Lightning 4, Blackhawks 3 (SOL)

Considering the Hawks came into the game down Brian Campbell, they lost Dave Bolland early in the first on a blatant head shot, and they were trailing 3-1 after 21 minutes, escaping with a point in one of the tougher buildings to play should be cause for a minor celebration.  The Hawks top line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp outscored the Lightning’s top line of Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Steven Stamkos 3-2.  Unfortunately, the Lightning’s supporting cast outscored the Hawks 1-0. 

For the second night in a row, the Hawks gave up a goal late in the first period.  This time, all three players keyed in on Steven Stamkos and forgot there was anyone else in a black jersey.  Enter Martin St. Louis who picked up the puck and picked out a corner. 

The Lightning scored a little after the first minute of the second on a broken play to extend their lead to two.  Down to essentially 15 skaters with Bolland out and the corpses of John Scott and Fernando Pisani rotting away, it looked like it was going to be a very long evening in St. Petersburg.

Fortunately, the Lightning defense didn’t have an answer for Toews, Kane, and Sharp.  Halfway through the second, Kane drew three defenders to him and fed the puck towards the front of the net.  Toews and Sharp had a mini 2-on-1 in the crease.  Sharp banged home the loose puck to cut the lead to one.

In the third, Toews won an offensive zone draw to Brent Seabrook.  Seabrook calmly held the puck, fed it to a wide open Niklas Hjalmarsson who fired a shot towards the net.  Toews worked his way to the front by this point and re-directed the shot past Dwayne Roloson. 

From there, both teams traded decent opportunities.  In overtime, Roloson stopped a Bryan Bickell breakaway.  The Hawks, meanwhile, killed off a minute of a power play that saw a few golden opportunities for Tampa.

Martin St. Louis was the only player to score in the shootout and that’s that.

Thoughts 

–The past two nights, Pat and Eddie made a fairly large deal about opponents playing man-to-man against the Hawks in the defensive zone.  As if this doesn’t play largely into the Hawks’ hands.  Man-to-man is probably the most difficult defense to play in this new NHL.  Teams have to have incredibly good skaters and decision makers to play it effectively.  Florida and Tampa are neither of those.  Needless to say, the Hawks, once again, skated circles around the opposition down low and there were people open everywhere once there was a defensive breakdown.

That’s the thing about man-to-man, one defensive breakdown and it becomes a fire drill in front of the net.  So please rest of the NHL, please keep playing this against the Hawks.   

–If Bryan Bickell played every 3 out of 4 games like he did his last two shifts, I don’t think anyone could find a complaint in his game.  Bickell destroyed Mattias Ohlund and Martin St. Louis with huge checks at the end of regulation.  Then in overtime, he just missed winning the game on a breakaway.  If it weren’t for Steven Stamkos bearing down on him, Bickell would have very likely lifted the puck right over Roloson’s glove.

–Like most NHL rules, their shootout rule is largely left to interpretation.  So when Martin St. Louis scored on his shootout attempt by coming wide, doing a spin-o-rama, and stopping the momentum of the puck before roofing it past Corey Crawford, I’m not sure what to think.  The spin-o-rama move has been used so much now that it leaves entirely to the referee’s discrection.  With the play moving so quickly, it’s nearly impossible to make the call at full speed.  I still have no idea if it was a good goal or not.  Maybe the league would be better off just allowing guys to do whatever the hell they want so long as they only take one shot. 

But that’s probably too easy.

–That was Niklas Hjalmarsson’s best game of the season.  Even though his penalty was the wrong call as the puck hit the glass before the net, I’m still waiting for a good explanation why he treated the puck like an IED in that situation. 

–You would have to think Pavel Kubina will get some kind of retribution from the league for his hit on Dave Bolland.  Kubina made no qualms about aiming for the back of Bolland’s skull with his elbow.  The only unfortunate thing for the Hawks was Kubina not getting a shift in overtime.  The man is an absolute stiff and would’ve very likely led to prime scoring chances for the Hawks.

–Late in the third, Troy Brouwer stripped Mattias Ohlund of the puck down low and outworked Kubina.  Jonathan Toews was wide open streaking down the slot.  Brouwer buried an easy shot into Roloson’s chest.  Obviously Brouwer was at the end of the shift, but generally Toews screams his head off any time he’s remotely open.  I would love to know why Brouwer didn’t spot him. 

–If you thought Brian Campbell was terrifying to watch in the 4-on-4 overtime, Chris Campoli takes it to a whole other level.  He’s all over the ice while taking all sorts of risks with the puck.  Tonight, he stopped a puck with his glove with two guys bearing down on him, pinched in below the Lightning goal line, and allowed a 2-on-1.  All in the same shift.

–After the Hawks were probably told no less than 98 times in the last 15 hours to always keep an eye on Steven Stamkos, it’s hard to find a ton of blame on Tampa’s second goal.  Their defense was obviously keyed in on him because of who he was.  So when he drew three guys to him to free up Martin St. Louis, it shouldn’t have been that surprising.  That tends to happen when superstars are on the ice.

On his first goal, I’d love to hear how the Hawks could’ve played that any better.  Brent Seabrook closed the gap on him as well as anyone could.  Dave Bolland was draped all over him from behind.  Stamkos was able to muscle past Bolland’s backcheck and somehow fire a shot past Seabrook’s stick.  Incredibly gifted players make special plays from time to time.

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17 Responses to Lightning 4, Blackhawks 3 (SOL)

  1. alpo says:

    That Stamkos goal was just plain dirty. Seabrook and Bolland were all over him and he still manages to snap a hard one towards net. One thing I prefer to never see again though is Patrick Kane uncork a slapper. Ugly. And how about some love for dis John Scott guy. What a gamer. He starts the rush on the 1st goal and also pings a shot off the cross-bar later in the game. Yesterday was probably his best game of the season, but nevertheless please come back soon Campbell.

  2. AC says:

    I would’ve like to see Crawford take St. Louis’ body away on the spin. I don’t know how the ruling would’ve worked, but if they’re going to allow Stamkos and St. Louis to stop the puck’s motion (which is against the letter of the law on shootouts), why not take the body on the shooter?

  3. John says:

    I was thinking the same thing. As soon as Crawford sees them turn their feet to spin, he just shoots his stick out to poke-check the puck away. Should he ‘accidentally’ get his stick between their legs, I don’t think that’s against the rules.

  4. Scott says:

    The St. Louis goal was borderline but we came back to tie it in the third period while two of our core players were out so I can’t complain about salvaging one point. Especially cause the extra point didn’t go to a Western Team.

    What was nerve racking was every time Stamkos set up on the top of the circle and got a pass to him. I was just expecting a goal. I actually thought the play in OT by St. Louis (I believe) that hit the crossbar was just good hockey. I think everyone thought he was going to pass and caught the defense leaning and we got lucky.

  5. Marts says:

    Cam made a comment last night (on another thread) that Tampa is a fraud and I tend to agree with him. People think that Stamkos, St.Louis and Lecavalier ensure the team plays “pressing” offensive hockey. They sure had Edzo convinced of that. Fact of the matter is they don’t. I’ve watched at least a dozen of their games this year (probably closer to 20) and they play a very boring anit-hockey style of game. They almost exclusively wait for a counter attack which can be very lethal with StL-kos.

    I think goalies should be able to hatchet little french pukes that pull puck-stopping spin-o-rama stunts like last night. Garbage. Try pulling something like that on your own goalie at the end of practice and he’s liable to tell you to go fcuk yourself. League needs to wake up and put in firm rules or just go utter free-for-all. Or just abolish it all together…

  6. John says:

    They are what their record says they are. Obviously, they’ve had a really good run of luck this season as their goal differential will insinuate. But fraud? That’s a pretty strong word for a team that has one of the best home records in the league. Cam’s point was that the Hawks dropped 3 of 4 points to inferior opponents.

    At home, Tampa Bay is not inferior to the Hawks.

  7. Anthony says:

    There is no way you can say that the hawks are inferior to the lightning after watching the hawks actually play to their talent level for the last 2/3 of the game and in overtime, Tampa was completely and blatantly outplayed.

    The shootout should also be abolished, it’s absolute nonsense in determining a game anyway, that would be like stopping a basketball game after five minutes of OT and having a three point contest or a slam dunk contest. The shootout in the league carries even less credibility when the actual rules and regulations of the event aren’t even always sanctioned; just an attempt by the league to bring in non-traditional, new generation hockey fans.

  8. John says:

    I didn’t say the Hawks were inferior. They’re pretty evenly matched actually. I wouldn’t go far as to say Tampa was completely and blatantly outplayed for 2/3 of the game. They had some stretches in there with decent pressure.

    This idea that the Hawks should win every game and only play up to their talent level when they feel like it is an insult to the NHL. As if there’s not two teams on the ice tryin to win.

  9. Dale Halas says:

    I understand your beef with Scott. He hasn’t performed the way the Hawks had hoped he would.

    I don’t, however, understand your beef with Pisani. He has had a useful year for the Hawks. His offensive GVT numbers are slightly better then Stalberg and Dowel’s and he has matched Stalbergs defensive GVT. He has been a pretty useful 500K – 4th line pickup for a team that has needed 500K guys to compete with other teams 1M players…

  10. John says:

    He’s slow, almost to the point where he can’t keep up with the play; he doesn’t do anything offensively; he can’t stay healthy and he can’t create at all. Oh and on top of that, his best skill (penalty-killing) has been mostly non-existent this season. Otherwise, he’s just what the doctor ordered.

    I’ve watched enough Blackhawk hockey this season that I don’t need their GVT’s to tell you that Stalberg or Dowell > Pisani.

    Anyways, the point I was trying to make in the post was that Pisani is mostly useless if the Hawks are chasing a couple of goals.

  11. Marts says:

    3 games for Kubina. About right I’d say. Hopefully Bolland doesn’t miss much action.

  12. Anthony says:

    That’s fair, I’d agree with that. Just venting a little frustration at the outcome of the game and how it had to come down to a shootout I suppose.

  13. Cam says:

    Going into a shootout isn’t the problem. The Hawks being so mediocre in them despite their individual skill is. It feels like decades ago when Kane was unstoppable in them. Now it’s a drag every time he leaves center ice to head for the net. Hossa and Sharp too.

  14. Big Tony says:

    I’d like to see what Frolik can do in a shootout. He can’t be worse than Hossa usually is.

  15. Cam says:

    Florida rides the momentum of their win over the Hawks to a home loss to Ottawa. Took them 56 minutes to crack the scoreboard.

  16. Jim says:

    Probably my homer perception, but it seems like every opposing goalie becomes Georges Vézina when they play the Hawks. If that is true, then it’s no surprise as the Stanley Cup Champs are the benchmark.

    In the second and third periods of both the Florida and Tampa Bay games, it seems like the Hawks were peppering the goalie at will, yet couldn’t get anything to dent the twine. Perhaps a little bit of elevation on some their shots would help, as well as hitting the corners or going top shelf. Bickell’s breakaway in OT at Tampa, for example, was shot right into the goalies midsection. And in the shootout, both Toews and Kane had zero elevation and bounced off the goalie’s shinpads.

  17. Cam says:

    The Lightning proceed to lose to Ottawa and the Panthers.

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