Game 9: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres
The Tampa Bay Lightning won their third game in a row beating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3.
Vincent Lecavalier scored his 800th NHL career point - a goal -13 years to the day after scoring his very first NHL goal. So, congratulations to the Captain. A job well done.
Brett Connolly is making the case to stay with the team. Mathieu Garon is making a case to become the number one goalie. And the Lightning are making the case that they're not as bad as they appeared to be a few games ago.
So, nothing to complain about, right?
Not so fast. There's always something to complain about. Assuming you don't just want to gloss it over and bask in the glow of a winning team, that is.
The Lightning only lead in one of the major statistical categories. They were outshot 39-23, they were out-hit 18-16, the overall team faceoff winning percentage was 42%. The only place they lead the Sabres was in blocked shots - 14-7 was the official tally in favor of the Lightning. They lead in the only statistic that really mattered, however, and that was the score at the end of the game.
They started out slow, and it wasn't very pretty. I think we can all agree at this point that this is a slow starting team. Maybe knowing that will cut down on the near heart attacks later on. So long as they finish strong and win, however, that's all that really matters.
Honestly, finding a way to win is the important lesson here. Knowing what they need to do in order to win a game now is going to be very helpful by the end of the season and on to playoffs. It's not fun watching them struggle against themselves, but having this happen early in the season will definitely give them confidence for later - as well as give them time to iron out all of the wrinkles.
Now, one less question that remains is...will Connolly be around for the next game. The team has confirmed that GM Steve Yzerman has told Connolly that he will be staying. That's a relief for the guy, I'm sure. And, it's a well-deserved honor as well.
The Lightning can still send him down to major juniors any time before the 40-game mark. It's just that at Game 10, his rookie contract kicks in, and they'll have to pay him for the season. And we'll all be one year closer to Connelly-geddon. After the 40-game mark, Connolly can be sent down to the AHL.
The Lightning improved to 4-3-2, and are now sitting in third place in the Southeast Division.
The next game is Thursday, 27 October, at the Nashville Predators. Game time is 8 pm ET. The Raw Charge game thread will open up at 7:30 pm, so stop in and say hi.