Tampa Bay Lightning Game 11: versus the New Jersey Devils
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the New Jersey Devils in another shootout 2-1.
On Halloween night, the scariest part of this game was perhaps the shot total for the Lightning. New Jersey outshot the Lightning 38-19. After that, it was probably the shootout, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Now, Martin Brodeur might go down as being the greatest goaltender of all-time in the NHL in the record books, but not even he has a 0.00 GAA or a 1.000 SV%. If you don't shoot, you can't score, and it doesn't matter who's in net for the opposing team. In fact, if you're playing against a particularly good goaltender on a hot streak, you should shoot more than you normally would in order to get something past him.
Antero Niittymaki was by far the best player on the ice for Tampa Bay. As he has been for all of his NHL starts with this team this season. Nothing against Mike Smith at all - Smith just needs to get used to playing with a decent defense in front of him, unlike last season when he had to do it all himself. Niittymaki was calm, and on top of everything. Yes, one goal did get past him in regulation, but that was due to a defensive breakdown in front of him by Victor Hedman.
Hedman, while he's definitely one of the top defensemen for the Lightning, is showing that he is an 18-year-old rookie after all. He doesn't look as comfortable as he did at the start of the season, nor is he as consistent. Against Ottawa in the previous game, he had four giveaways, for example. But that's to be expected as he not only needs to get used to playing in NHL players, but he also needs to adapt to the size of NHL ice rinks.
Other than Niittymaki, the best player on the ice was Vincent Lecavalier. He wasn't that great in the faceoff circle, winning only 4-13 (24%), but everyone has an off night doing something or another. In all other aspects, he played well. Of the Lightning's 19 total shots, Vinny had five. And he also had two hits. He plays his best when he's hitting and running the ice, I've noticed.
This game should never have gone into a shootout. Of course, I'm of the opinion that few games should go to a shootout - not because I don't like shootouts, but because there's always something the team should've done better to avoid them. In this instance, if they'd shot more, it probably wouldn't have gone to overtime in the first place.
As I've said before, I think their problems with the shootout are simple. They're concentrating more on themselves than what the goaltenders have done that game. Scouting reports on the goalies are important when it comes to shootouts, but so is paying attention to what the goalies are doing during the game. If it were me, I'd be asking my own goaltender what he saw of the other one at the other end. Goalies see more than people think.
As for the rest of the team, I thought that Jeff Halpern had a good game, going 13-6 in the faceoff circle (68%). Despite getting the game-tying goal, I didn't think Steven Stamkos had a very good night. Matt Walker also played very well, as did Alex Tanguay for the last half of the game. And, again, that line of Todd Fedoruk, Zenon Konopka, and Steve Downie was great. I was happy to see them get more ice time.
The next game in Philadelphia is a 5 o'clock start due to the World Series.