Happy thoughts for Lightning fans
I wanted to write a story about the Lightning that wasn't depressing. Because it's the middle of winter and the sun's been hiding (here in Nashville, anyway), and because it's the December-January mid-season lull when it all starts to become a grind, even for the fans. And because watching the games and reading the post-game analyses has gotten a bit depressing all on its own regardless of what's going on in the world.
I sat and I thought. And I thought and I sat. And, hey, a new year is coming. 2012. The winter solstice has passed. The nights aren't going to be getting longer anymore--or at least for another six months. The holiday trading freeze is over. Anything can happen.
So I'm going to ignore all the bad news for now--just for now--and focus on things that can make me happy in the middle of these doldrums. As always, your results may vary.
A 5-1 victory: Any 5-1 victory is wonderful. A 5-1 victory over the the top offensive team in the league while faced with injuries like they faced last night? That's outstanding.
Martin St. Louis: Aside from the fact that watching Marty play makes me happy, I am also in awe of his will. Twelve days? Really? We all thought he was out for another week at least. I'm also happy that he's both totally fierce and completely clean. It makes me happy that he actually looks upset when he gets a penalty.
Steven Stamkos: What a kid. Leading the league in goals on a team that's kind of starving for them. I love his willingness to learn to be a leader on this team--and his understanding that it's something that has to be learned. He's leading the team in large part by example: in the top 4 on the team in goals, shots, game-winning goals, shooting percent, and relative Corsi and relative QoC.
Victor Hedman: In all of the anxiety about the Lightning defense, we somehow forget that Heddy's really quite young for a defenseman. He's playing a lot of minutes, against the toughest opponents in the toughest situations and he's still got one of the higher relative Corsi ratings on the team. He should get better as he gets more experience and if he does, his $4 MM cap hit stands to become a great bargain. Also, Get Well Soon!
Vinny Lecavalier: Take a step back from that contract and look at what he does. He's there every night, mentally as well as physically. He's intense. He's team-oriented. He's steady. He leads the team in PP goals (4), and is 2nd in shots (109), shots/game (3.1), and goals. These are all good things. That's not even considering what he does for the community.
Adam Hall: 63% faceoff win percentage while starting about 2/3 of the time in the defensive zone. Losing a faceoff in the defensive zone results in so many shots on net that it's like giving the other team a 10 to 15 second power play, so those faceoff wins mean a whole lot.
Dana Tyrell: He pushes the play in the right direction. He starts his shifts in the offensive zone only 36% of the time and finishes them there 55% of the time. This zone start-zone finish ratio is better than anyone else on the team. Only Eric Brewer comes close (29% to 47%).
The Lightning Community Hero program: I've never heard of any other program quite like this. The team is giving $50,000 to a different community program at every home game. That's a total of $2,100,000 dollars. Add in the publicity that these programs receive and the chance for ordinary fans to nominate a Hero to be honored, and you have an ownership really involved with the community.
So, anyway, these are some things I can feel happy about. Which doesn't mean that I don't understand that there are issues for the team, okay? In fact, I wish there were more of these. It's always possible that later on in the season there could be. It's virtually certain that I've missed something or someone I shouldn't have. What about you? Anything you can think of that is worth being happy about?