Game 62: Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils
The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3.
The unquestionable star of the game was de facto captain Martin St. Louis. He scored his second hat trick of the season, and had an assist on the other goal that was scored by Matt Gilroy. He wasn't just the player that kept the team in it on the scoreboard, but he was the guy who kept the team in it mentally, too.
For much of the game, it was a laid back sort of Sunday matinee game, as most would expect. There weren't a lot of shots overall - the Devils had 22 shots while the Lightning only had 16 - and it wasn't really a lot of end-to-end sort of action. But it was a good overall effort by the Lightning, and they managed to play for almost all 60 minutes.
And, I think, if you were to ask the fans, that's what gets to them the most. We all know that the players try all of the time, but some aren't as mentally there into the game as they could be - for whatever reason. Losing sucks for everybody, but it's more palatable if players are visibly into the game. It's hard to be 'on' all game every game, but when most of, or even the entire, team seems 'off'...? Well, then that's a problem.
That wasn't the case in this game, but it was the case in the game yesterday in Pittsburgh. Some of that was just the same old stupid luck that the Lightning have been fighting all season, of course. But not all of it was.
This win was particularly interesting for three reasons. One, it was against Martin Brodeur, who is 35-16-5 against the Lightning lifetime - including today's game. Two, the Lightning are 10-19-4 on the road this season. Again, including this game. And finally, they scored a power play goal on the road - as they did yesterday - who are 11.4% (13 goals in 114 opportunities) on the road with their power play (not including this game).
Victor Hedman was out with an "upper body" injury, so Evan Oberg was brought up (again) to take his spot. And this time, he got to play. Not just play a minute or two as he's done previously, but 11:25. That's still a far cry from Hedman's average ice time of 23:01 per game, but a lot more than he's had with the Lightning up until now.
And yes, I suppose I have to grudgingly admit now that he really does exist.
The next game is after the trade deadline on Tuesday, 27 February, versus the Montreal Canadiens. Game time is the regular 7:30 pm Eastern. If you're not attending the game, then please stop in and say hi to us. The Raw Charge game thread will become available at 7 pm.