Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Game 24: Post Thanksgiving Hangover

Game: 24
Opponent: @Washington
Did You Watch it Live?: Live? I was there, baby! Section 410 rocking the blue and white!
By Yourself?: Unfortunately not. The Duchess was there and my parents.
Did they have fun?: I think they enjoyed the Christmas Market outside the arena more than the game.
Three Stars: 3. Andrei Vasilevskiy 2. Jason Chimera 1. John Carlson
Worst Play: So many to choose from. I'm going to go with JT Brown nine-ironing the puck over the net after he stole it from Braden Holtby.

So I waited 24 hours to write this (and god knows how many days to actually post it). Simply put, I try not to write angry. It clouds judgment and the chances of writing something that I would regret would increase greatly. That being said, the game itself was hot garbage. They've played some uninterested periods of hockey this season, but the first period of the game against the Capitals was so very, very bad that I wondered out loud if they knew the start time of the game was 5:00pm.

It didn't help that they kept taking penalties against one of the better power play teams in the league. The Caps burned them twice in the first period with the man advantage while keeping the puck in the zone for most of the period. Washington's power play didn't seem complicated – play with the puck until they can isolate Alex Ovechkin by the side of the net – but it worked well against the Lightning.

Ovechkin sniped one past Vasilevskiy 7 minutes into the game to start the scoring. At that point, Vasilevskiy was the only reason the Lightning were still in the game. Tampa was apparently trying to tire the Capitals out by letting them shoot the puck, shoot the puck and shoot the puck some more. Eighteen shots made it to the net and tons of others sailed wide or were blocked. It wasn't much better in the second period when Washington added another 13 shots on net.

It wasn't until the third period that the Lightning showed some signs of life. Down 4-0 Brian Boyle found the back of the net and two minutes later Victor Hedman notched his second goal of the season by blasting the puck past Holtby to bring the Lightning within two goals. That would be it for the offensive output and the final ended up 4-2, a much more respectable score than they deserved.

Playing in Washington has always been trying for the Lightning (unless it's the playoffs) so it's probably a good thing that they only have to come up here once a year now. However, the way they played in the first 40 minutes they couldn't have beaten an AHL team. Whether the injuries are now catching up with them (losing Tyler Johnson after 48 seconds left them shorthanded) or if the Capitals are that much better of a team it was just disappointing to watch them play that bad. It's becoming harder and harder to look at them as a playoff team.

Random Hockey Thought:

I wasn't impressed with the atmosphere at the Verizon Center. Yes, everyone wears red and cheers when the scoreboard tells them to, but for most of the game it was pretty flat. Despite the Caps dominating the game there was no energy coming from the crowd until they scored the back-to-back goals at the end of the second period.

The folks sitting around us were more concerned with mundane aspects of their life then what was going on on the ice. The closest to game action I heard was the girl behind us analyzing Tom Wilson's mustache.

There was a fairly impressive amount of Lightning jerseys in the crowd and we didn't get much flack from the crowd. There was one random “Stamkos Sucks” guy at the end of the game on the way out, but he was outnumbered by the “Go Lightning” folks that we ran into.

Even the “It's all your fault” chant directed at Vasilevskiy after the Washington goals were announced was half-hearted and muddled. Get it together Caps fans.

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