Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Lightning Fall Behind Quickly and Don't Recover
For the fifth time in the last seven games, the Tampa Bay Lightning ended up on the wrong side of a result. Last night, it was a 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here are the thumbs:
Thumbs Down: The Early Effort Level
The underlying numbers at the end of the night looked just fine (hello, score effects!), but the Tampa Bay Lightning were deserving of this loss based on how they started the game. The team just looked discombobulated for long stretches of the game, failing to do enough in the offensive zone for what felt like the zillionth straight game. It’s true that this team is missing Nikita Kucherov right now, but you’d like to think that Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, and others could combine to make the offence look more alive than it does these days.
Thumbs Down: Tyler Johnson’s Effort Level Specifically
After talking Tyler Johnson up in this space earlier in the season, he’s really come to make me look a little bit foolish recently. On too many nights, he seems to disconnect and float through plays that ultimately cost his team. There was no better example of that than on Zac Dalpe’s opening goal. Would it have killed Johnson to take even a single skating stride in the defensive zone? It looked like it…
Thumbs Up: “Ross Colton Stays Hot!”
Dave Randorf said it best, as Ross Colton scored his fifth of the season. Assisted by Johnson and Pat Maroon, Colton wired his shot top corner to make it a 4-1 game. It didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things in this game – too little, too late – but it was another example of Colton making an outsized impact for someone in his role.
Thumbs Down: The Warts Average Goaltending Reveals
With Andrei Vasilevskiy having been so, so good for most of this season, average nights from him expose some serious warts with this lineup. There’s a reason that most of the insiders, in their pre-deadline radio hits, have described the Lightning as buyers. Even with limited cap space to work with, Julien BriseBois might be able to pull off something that will help his team. As an example, there are rumors out there that Columbus’ David Savard is on Tampa’s radar.
Thumbs Up: The Sergachev-Thomas Pairing
If there was one big positive that stuck out to me, basically from start to finish last night, it was the Mikhail Sergachev-Ben Thomas pairing. They controlled the game when they were out there together, and were a key factor in the Lightning generating so many shots on goal in this game. The underlying numbers back up what my eyes were telling me, as those two were among the top Lightning skaters in both five-on-five shot attempt and expected goal share per Natural Stat Trick.
The Lightning will press their luck against the Blue Jackets again tomorrow.
As always, thanks for reading.