Game 55: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2.
Steve Downie scored the only two goals for the Lightning. They were in the first period and 11 seconds apart, breaking a club record. The previous record for the fastest time for one player scoring two goals had been 16 seconds, and that was Jason Wiemer versus the New Jersey Devils in 1997.
So...good for Downie - and for Teddy Purcell, who assisted on both of those goals. However, the rest of the team wasn't able to keep up. This looked exactly like a team that had played its third road game in four nights. They started the game well enough, but weren't able to finish it at that pace. To put it bluntly, they looked tired - both mentally and physically.
Incidentally, Steven Stamkos - who had played over 25 mintues the night before against Buffalo - played slightly less time than his season average of 21:23. He was on the ice for 18:03. Not bad, but he only had one shot on goal and one hit for the night.
Even still, you know a team's not having a good game when a defenseman leads everyone in shots on goal. Victor Hedman was again a force. He had five shots on goal, and three hits - on top of playing 28:18. While Downie might have broken a team record, Hedman was the guy who stepped up his game despite probably being just as tired as everyone else.
For most of the game, the team overall just was...tired. They stood around a lot, and didn't take many shots. Being tired is no excuse, I realize, but it was a fact. Frankly, while they lost this game, they only lost it by two goals. It could've easily been much, much worse than that.
While I admire head coach Guy Boucher's coaching capabilities, I am beginning to wonder if a possible oversight of his is managing ice time for these guys during games. I understand that you want your best players playing when you're down, but you've also got to help them pace themselves when they're on a road trip such as this. And it was obvious that that wasn't the case with at least Stamkos the night before in Buffalo.
Letting the players police themselves in terms of ice time is a nice idea, I guess - if that's what going on - but in reality it makes for a tired team since no one ever really wants to leave the ice once they get on it.
The next game for the Lightning is Tuesday, 14 February, versus the Ottawa Senators. Game time is earlier than usual at 7 pm Eastern. The Raw Charge game thread will be available at 6:30 pm. If you're not going to be at the game, then come join us.
Lightning vs Penguins coverage
Lightning vs Penguins boxscore