Score: 1-3 (L)
Let's get this out of the way right now. I did not watch this game. I do not plan on watching this game. Yet, in some ways I feel like I've seen this game too many times this year. Close game, All-Star Ben Bishop plays well, a forward (Ryan Callahan) gets hurt, and the Lightning can't generate enough offense to win the game.
I was at work when the game was being played (yea second shift!) and from a couple of brief encounters on Twitter it didn't sound like things were going well, especially in the first period. It seems they righted the ship a bit as the game went on and with the extra skater managed to get within one when Steven Stamkos played Anton Stralman's bankshot off the boards perfectly.
Unfortunately, that was a close as they would get as 40 seconds later, Lance Bouma was able to find the empty net to put the game out of reach. I will say one thing, the Lightning have run into some rotten luck when it comes to empty net goals. Just off the top of my head I can remember three empty net goals the Lightning have given up from the wrong side of the red line.
Granted, the easiest way to prevent that from happening is to have the lead late in the game, but it is frustrating to see the opposing team make a risky play and have it pay off for them. File that into yet another thing that is frustrating about this season.
As painful as it is to lose a close game, it sucks even more when they lose a game when they have a chance to gain ground on the teams they are chasing. On Tuesday the Lightning lost. Montreal and Boston also lost. Those are two games that Tampa Bay is chasing in the standings. A win would have tied them with Boston and Ottawa at 44 points and lessened the gap to three points between them and Montreal.
When a team is chasing a playoff spots they have to win as many games as possible and, more importantly, take advantage when the teams ahead of them lose. The good news is that the Lightning are still within stalking distance and have yet to make a run. If they snap off a 7-3 or 8-2 run over the next couple of weeks they will be right back in the thick of things.
Did Matt Carle Get a Point?
Matt Carle was a healthy scratch as Nikita Nesterov made his return to the lineup. With all of the trade talk surrounding the Lightning right now I'm sure Carle's name has been mentioned a time or two on Mr. Yzerman's cell phone. The asking price is reportedly extremely high for disgruntled forward Johnathan Drouin and I wonder if one of the asking pieces is that the team that gets Drouin has to take Carle with him.
Thinking about trade scenarios and seeing what Philadelphia did with retaining salary in the Lecavalier and Schenn deal got me thinking about how to move Carle. I'm sure there is no team that wants him at $5+ million cap hit. So if the Lightning move him, they would probably have to retain salary. Well, what if the Lightning could just move a portion of his salary?
Let's say they are working out a deal with Arizona for Jo Drouin. Can they say, hey we'll give you Drouin for a first round pick, a mid-to-high level prospect and you have to take $4 million differed salary off of Carle's contract over the next couple of years, but we keep him on the Lightning. Wouldn't Carle's 10-14 minutes a game look a lot better at a $3 million cap hit than a $5 million hit? Arizona has cap room to take the hit and they still end up with a pretty good player in Drouin to go along with Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. I'm going to guess that kind of deal is not allowed under the CBA, but why not at least investigate it?