Game 47: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in a shootout.
They were outshot for the entire game, and the defense wasn't really on in the first, but they managed squeak out a win against the Western Conference team. Steven Stamkos had two goals, while Ryan Malone scored the game winner in the fourth round of the shootout. And Dwayne Roloson played very well, facing 30 shots.
The first goal that Roloson let in you can't really fault him on. RJ Umberger split the D when the defensemen should've had him all wrapped up. Goalies expect their defensemen to take care of the shooter at that point - and it's not as if they were all that far away from Umberger, either. They were still trying to get in front of him after he'd already gone past them.
A couple of shifts after that, the exact same thing happened with different players on the ice. This time, however, the defense tied up the shooter so that he wasn't able to get of a quality shot. Roloson easily stopped that attempt and play continued.
Sometimes it's the little things that kill a team. You try to take the puck instead of the body, or you try to bodily get in front of a player instead of trying to poke-checking the puck off of his stick from behind. Sloppy passing, sloppy hitting - those are the things that give the opposing teams the most chances.
And, thankfully, the Lightning have been very lucky when it comes to that. Because those are the things that have been killing them. Not playing sloppy - in fact, they're playing much more cleanly than they used to. It's just making the little mental mistakes like defensive assignments or trying to be cute with the puck in the offensive zone that get them. It's because they're playing cleanly that these things haven't come back to haunt them too often - that they're managing to win close games despite the mental mistakes.
Here are two crazy stats from the game last night. Nate Thompson won seven of eight faceoffs - that's 88%. He's been a very underrated player for this team, I think. And Randy Jones had six blocked shots.
With this win, the Lightning are still atop the Southeast Division, and are now sitting in third place behind Philadelphia and Boston in the Eastern Conference.
The next game is Thursday, 20 January, at the Atlanta Thrashers. Game time is early, at 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will open up at 6:30 pm - come join us!