In the first seven games, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored 37 goals and went 6-1. Over the last four games, three on the road, the Bolts have scored six goals and lost all four contests. Tampa Bay is now 6-5 and leads the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets by one point in the Southeastern Division.
The best thing that happened on the Bolts first extended road trip of the season was the cancellation of their game versus the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
On Sunday night the New York Hagelins trounced the Lightning 5-1. Carl Hagelin had two goals and an assist, and Henrik Lundqvist had to make only 19 saves as the New York Rangers extended the Lightning’s losing streak to four games.
Hagelin, who has been stuck in a scoring slump since last season, scored two goals and added an assist in the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Lightning at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, after tallying a goal and an assist in the Rangers’ road win over the Bolts eight days ago. According to Elias, since March 21 last year, Hagelin has scored five points in two games against the Lightning (three goals, two assists), and four points in 19 regular-season and 17 playoff games against all other NHL teams.
After allowing a third goal, Mathieu Garon was yanked in favor of Anders Lindback and the team seemed to respond as Vincent Lecavalier ended Lundqvist’s shutout bid with 5:18 left in the second period when he put in a rebound of defenseman Victor Hedman’s shot from the left point.
But, the third period was a frustrating exhibition in futility forTampaBaywho mustered a measly four shots on goal. While the Rangers are the ultimate shut down team when leading late in the game,TampaBay’s many offensive weapons should have been able to mount a much better attack.
Coach Guy Boucher appears to have no answers for his teams’ road woes that extend back to last season where they were officially the worst road team in the NHL, winning only 13 times in 41 tries.
Prior to the Rangers game forward Ryan Malone stated, “The results are not what we want, but any adversity we face is good especially early. Most of our guys are used to (close games), especially last year we were in so many one-goal games. So, I think this year, starting now, we are going to see more one-goal games as everyone starts to get more defensive minded and not as open as the first ten games.”
Early? Any adversity is good? After Sunday’s drubbing at the hands of the Rangers, the season is nearly 25% complete! Malone then added to the “good adversity” and injured himself during the team soccer ball kick around prior to the Bolts game against New York. Malone has been placed on IR and the Lightning have recalled Richard Panik from Syracuse.
Steven Stamkos called the team out after the loss, “We are known as a team that can’t win on the road right now and it’s embarrassing, to be honest. We have to find a way, and it feels like we keep saying that all the time, but we are a lot better team than we are playing on the road.’’
The Bolts road struggles are apparent in their special teams play. Tampa Bay’s power play is clicking at a ridiculous 44.4% at home, while on the road they score an anemic 5.3% of the time with the man advantage. After going 0-2 on the power play Sunday, the Lightning has gone three games without a power play goal after connecting eight times in 16 chances. It is simply shocking that a team this talented offensively can just stop scoring.
In this short, 48 game season, The Lightning appear to be at a crossroads. Many of the players stated that the first road trip would, “Show us where we are at.” That being the case, Tampa Bay has a long way to go.
Steven Stamkos photograph courtesy Susan Ferlita.
About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?