Did the Tampa Bay Lightning's win at Philly show the glass half full or half empty?
It was interesting how the Tampa Bay Lightning's game against the Flyers Thursday night had some of the flavor of the past two seasons. Tampa Bay mustered only 24 shots on goal and there were patches, not a lot but noticeable, when the Flyers kept the Lightning hemmed into the defensive zone for a minute at a time.
But in the end, the Lightning, playing emotional back-to-back games, and facing the defending Eastern conference champs, survived 3-2 with some stifling third-period defense and good goaltending from Dan Ellis. Flyers goalie Brian Boucher whiffing on a couple of shots helped, but before you put too much emphasis on that, Steven Stamkos hit two posts as well.
The question, then, is, was the victory over the Flyers something on which to hang one's hat or something that sparks a few worries? I go back to the 2007-08 season in which the Lightning began 3-0-0 and recalled how badly the team played in that third victory over the Panthers. Not saying in any way the Lightning is on that path, which led to the worst record in the NHL. Still, do we look at what has gone on so far this season with some caution?
For starters, the circumstances were not ideal on Thursday. It was a game against a tough opponent after a draining overtime win the night before at Montreal, another emotional setting. It probably was tough to find legs early. Add the distraction of a video tribute by the Flyers to Simon Gagne, and there were a lot of reasons for the team to be a bit unfocused.
But also consider this. Ellis held the fort while the team struggled through the first period, being outshot 14-5, and Tampa Bay managed a 1-1 tie thanks to Stamkos, who, by the way, became the first Lightning player to score goals in the first three games of a season. By the third period, Tampa Bay was in control and outshot the Flyers 11-4. Pavel Kubina's goal early in the third gave the team a 3-1 lead and was the winner. His 66th Lightning goal tied Dan Boyle for most by a Tampa bay defenseman.
The sentiment in the locker room, of course, was all positive. Dominic Moore said the win showed how relentless the team has become. Coach Guy Boucher talked about a "character" win. But Moore also so it was good for the players not to get too far ahead of themselves.
Tampa Bay does have some history to deal with.