Hey, the Bolts lost, this makes it better. Don't worry, in Game Three I'll show some Lightning Girls
Well, that was ummm...fun? Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals saw the Lightning's 8 game playoff winning streak come to end. Throughout the sixty minutes of exciting hockey there were some good things and there were a lot of bad things. Fortunately, they leave Boston with a split of the first two games and head back to Tampa with home ice advantage.
To be honest, I'm not surprised at how this game turned out. Even during their winning streak the Bolts weren't playing their best hockey. Game after game they were relying on their old man between the pipes, Dwayne Roloson, way too much. Tuesday night it finally burned them. He was off his game from the beginning, struggling to control his rebounds all night and the Bruins were finally able to take advantage.
I'm sure some writers will slyly remark that perhaps time has caught up to the 41 year-old netminder and that perhaps he's starting to show his age. I disagree. He just had a bad night, something that happened during the regular season from time to time. So lets put a kibosh on the "start Mike Smith in Game 3" talk before it begins. The Lightning are not the Flyers.
Let's recap Game Two by bulleting some things I didn't like, and some things I liked.
Things I didn't like:
-Seeing Mike Smith in the net while the game was actually being played. I like Smith, he seems like a nice guy, but when the Bolts cut the deficit to one I was thinking of how many years would be taken off of my life if I had to watch a playoff game with Mike Smith minding the net in overtime.
- The second period. The Lightning have played a vast majority of these playoffs in their own zone, it's just the way the games have gone. They spend a minute and a half furiously skating around in their zone, chasing around the other team and blocking shots. Then they get possession of the puck skate down the ice and score in thirty seconds. Then back to defending their zone frantically for two minutes.
In Game Two Boston finally put all of their zone time to use. They got in front of Roloson and were first to the rebounds that he gave up. That's how you beat Tampa Bay, outwork them in front of the net.
- Patrice Bergeron not being healthy. If Boston had started their concussed centerman, chances are young Mr. Seguin would have been scratched. Therefore (and such as) he wouldn't have abused Roloson on his first goal or had a hand in three others. Stupid teenager!
Not one of Dwayne's finest moments in this year's playoffs.
- The Lightning's fifth goal. Look, I was excited when they scored, but that should have been blown dead waaaay before Dominic Moore shot the puck in. The ref has got to see that Tim Thomas' helmet was off and stop play immediately. There is too much going on around the crease to take that kind of chance.
Things I did like:
- The Lightning got themselves down by three goals, but never gave up. One might even argue that if it wasn't for the stellar play of Thomas Tampa Bay would have never had that type of deficit. They kept getting scoring chances, and kept forcing the play. Let us not lose sight of the fact that they've put the puck past Veizna trophy candidate Tim Thomas 9 times in two games.
- Steven Stamkos' goal. A pure shooter is a joy to watch. The subtle drag of the puck to change the shooting angle and then the quick wrists to snap it over Thomas' shoulder was a thing of beauty.
- Steve Downie goading Zdeno Chara into taking a penalty. Getting the big man off the ice for two minutes is always going to be a big thing for the Lightning. As this series continues look for Downie to continue to pester the Bruins.
"Lemme at 'em. I'll kill 'em. Even if he's two feet taller than me!
- The third period. It was really the first time in weeks that the Lightning dominated a period offensively like they did Tuesday night. If they can skate with that kind of urgency in Game Three, their chances for a win look good.
Number Three - Mike Smith. Why? Because it's probably the last chance I get to ever give him a star. On a serious note, what he did in the third is a lot harder then people know. He hasn't seen a puck fired in anger in about a month. To come in off the bench and stop all 8 shots that he faced is not easy.
Number Two - Tyler Seguin. Two goals and two assists for someone who wasn't even supposed to play this series. Once again - stupid teenager.
Number One - Tim Thomas. His stops on Marty St Louis and Ryan Malone kept the Lightning from matching the Bruins' offensive onslaught in the second period. If he lets in either one of those goals it is a whole different hockey match. He may have given up five goals, but he also stopped about half-a-dozen prime scoring chances.
Somehow, Ryan Malone gets called for goaltender interference on this play. "Never touched the guy, ref. I swear!"