Unstable and Unable
It's a rather simple equation, repeated nightly by the Lightning... It's what's kept me silent for so long - because I thought there would be change as the season progressed...
What seems apparent is the team is flying, on ice, by the seat of it's pants. With deadly offensive weapons and then a sharp fall off in offensive contributions and with a younger defense that is learning on the go.
I don't mind the team actually playing with younger talent on the blue line, what bothers me is the lack of veteran leadership there. There is a stability void on defense with Dan Boyle being down and out after his accident earlier this season. A stability void that hasn't been remedied by players growing up or the older guys covering the younger guys slip ups.
And then we get to the backstops -- where the term "stability" isn't applicable. Between Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis, you have two goaltenders that have proven they are not #1's. Two #2's doesn't equal a #1.
It's just one large math problem that leads to the Tampa Bay Lightning's also-ran status right now: top gun offense playing a go-go-go system + a younger, less experienced defense x unstable goaltending = a fine mess of mediocrity.
I knock Holmer and Denis but I need to be honest that their style of play (cynics, please don't quip at that :p ) is more adequate for this team -- it's not a chicken-with-it's-head-cut-off overcommitment and hyperactivity that we saw with John Grahame in the pipes (who was either brilliant or a monstrosity) during 2005-06. But what is lacking, clearly, is the ability to make routine saves that they must. That leads to more weight on a young defense and more errors with thanks to the go-go-go offense...
My long time Lightning-on-the-Internet friend, Sharon Loe, once got into a discussion on the Usenet Lightning group (referenced here through Google Groups) with a younger fan about the Lightning needing to simply score more to win. Thus, Sharon mocked (in a playful fashion) that the Bolts only needed to score "many MANY goals" in order to win.
The recent failing against the Flames brought that discussion back to my mind. Tonight's loss to the Capitals -- where seat-of-your pants play ruled, furthered it along.
Where is the stability? It's Jay Feaster's job to deal with that... And yet call-ups from Norfolk just won't cut it.
Dan Boyle's returning will not solidify things alone... There needs to be some solidarity brought onto the team.... Some clutch defense to go along with the offensive storm the Bolts can invoke. Between the pipes could do it, on the blue line would be nice too.
That, or the math of the current roster will continue to foil the team.
many MANY goals