Tampa Bay Lightning Game 1: at the Atlanta Thrashers
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost their season opening game to the Atlanta Thrashers by a score of 6-3.
There was both good and bad in this game. But I guess that's the case for most games, really. I think we'll start with the bad.
All of the bad came from one source - the team was not mentally prepared to play. They came out confidently complacent, and then were left wondering why they were down 4-0 halfway through the game. It was almost as if they'd just won a championship last season and felt that they had nothing to prove.
The hard part to stomach was the fact that they were puzzled to be down by four goals. They should've been angry. But there was no sense of indignation that they were losing so horribly. Even the coaches on the bench were looking around scratching their heads in confusion instead of yelling at people to get their rears in gear.
There was no sense of teamwork, the defense looking like they were more interested in jumping into the play instead of playing defense, and Mike Smith looked like he was just going to rely on his defensemen to save him. Oh, there was a stretch for about 10 minutes of game time where they looked like they had it together and came back to make it 4-3, but then that fell apart on Atlanta's fifth goal of the night. The team as a whole was not mentally ready to play - including the coaches.
There was quite a bit of good that came out of the night, however - despite the score being what it was.
For one, there were plenty of shots on goal. That was definitely a good thing. If Atlanta's goalie Ondrej Pavelec hadn't been on, then this game probably would've been a lot closer. Although, I'm sure, still high scoring. Ilya Kovalchuk looked pretty hard to stop most of the game.
Vincent Lecavalier was everywhere. He had eight shots on goal, notched on assist, and was actually even on the night - though he could've been better on faceoffs. He was playing a lot at the point during the power play, which I think is a better spot for him to be than on the walls trying to set something up. As far as leading by example goes, the captain was doing his job.
Martin St. Louis had two of the three Tampa Bay goals scored, five shots, and played with a lot of energy. Victor Hedman still played too much, in my opinion, getting 26:27 of ice time though he had a great game - also receiving his first NHL point on a St. Louis goal. It was actually a Hedman wrist shot - a nice one - that was deflected in by St. Louis.
Mattias Ohlund was right behind Hedman with 26:11, but he was pretty invisible for much of the game. Alex Tanguay and Andrej Meszaros had moments of brilliance, but they were pretty quiet for the majority of the game as well. Paul Ranger is obviously still trying to get his timing back since he made a couple of notable mistakes. Ryan Malone and Steven Stamkos put in solid, but hardly spectacular, efforts.
Both Todd Fedoruk and Zenon Konopka got into fights. Surprisingly, Steve Downie did not. In fact, Downie played a solid, but clean, game. Which is definitely a good thing.
Kurtis Foster leaf the game early on with a "lower body injury". Speculation was that it was caused by a hit. He did not return.
The team needs to be mentally better prepared to play than that. If they had been going in, they probably would've won this game. It is only game one, but it was against a division team. They need to do better than that. Let's hope that this is just an aberration instead of the start of a pattern of poor play - play well if you have to, instead of playing hard consistently all the time.