Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Game 66: The One With The Ghost Bear

Game: 66
Opponent: Philadelphia
Score: 4-2 Loss

When a team wins nine games in a row it's really hard to get upset over one loss. However, man did they get their asses kicked on Monday night. The final score is truly not indicative at how outplayed they were for 60 minutes. It was amazing that they had a shot to tie it at the end before Wayne Simmonds buried the empty netter with 30 seconds to go.

Andrei Vasilevskiy also saw his personal winning streak end, but there should be an asterisk by the loss. He was phenomenal in the game, especially in the second period when the Lightning were outshot 22-6. I did chuckle when the Lightning challenged Shane Gostisbehere's (a.ka. the Ghost Bear) goal at the 16:51 mark. The ref should have just announced the goal was good because when you're getting outshot 30-6 you don't get to challenge calls.

Why yes, he did get a penalty on this.  Photo credit to Bruce Bennet Getty Images

Despite the lopsided ice they were playing on, there were some good spots to point out. Well two. Vasilevskiy and Tyler Johnson. TJ picked up another two points to continue his late-season resurgence. That makes three of the last four games where he's scored more than one point. Having him at full strength keeps that second line strong and opens up the ice for Steven Stamkos and his line.

When the Lightning weren't getting outskated they still couldn't get the bounces.  Rebounds jumped over sticks, Flyer goalie Steve Mason would get just enough of a puck to deflect it wide.  Not to say that the Lightning weren't unlucky, they deserved to lose this game, it's just when you're on a winning streak sometimes you get outplayed and still manage to win.  This was not one of those games.

Other than that it was a bad game so there is no need to dwell on it. With Boston coming to town next the Lightning definitely need to put the game out of their mind and move on. Sometimes having back-to-back games isn't a bad thing. Despite winning 9 in a row, they only have a one-point lead over Boston and Florida. They do have a game in hand over the Bruins, but the race is still too close to take the foot off of the gas.

They did manage to gain some separation from the bottom of the pack (7 points over Detroit for 8th and 11 over Philly for 9th). At this point I'm not sure it matters for the Lightning. They do have a better record at home, but their road record isn't shabby at 18-13-2. I'd rather they have home ice for the playoffs, but I'm not sure it's going to matter where they play if they get to the conference finals.

Having conversations about playoff seeding is fun if just for the fact it delays talking about off-season issues. Especially since Mr. Vinik could use a few home playoff games to generate some more income. He's going to have a heck of a big check to write coming up.

Did Matt Carle Get a Point?
Nope. But he was a +2! He was on the ice for both of the Lightning goals! That's not bad. He picked up another 20 minute ice time game and saw almost 3 minutes of shorthanded time. He's played pretty well as an injury fill-in over the last two weeks. It'll be interesting to see what happens when Andrej Sustr comes back. Does Carle go back to the bench or will it be one of the young kids.

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