Let's look at the positive
There really has been so little of it this season, let's take the opportunity to give the boys a pat on the back.
Let's be clear here, making the playoffs by winning the division is not going to be easy. Tampa Bay dug itself a pretty big hole, though it is trying mighty hard to climb out. Sure, the Lightning is being helped by playing in a terrible division, but, hey, it's the only division we've got. So enjoy what is turning into quite a little race and the 11 remaining division games, starting Saturday against the Thrashers.
Loved this quote from Dan Boyle after the 2-1 win over Nashville: "Now we have a little pulse. We have a little life.''
Who would have thought we would actually look forward to yet ANOTHER game with the Thrashers or the Capitals? Sorry, I still can't say I ever will enjoy ANOTHER game with the Panthers.
Anyway, good for the Lightning with the way it scratched out the win over the Predators, who had been red hot coming into the game. You need to win games like that; games in which you are not necessarily playing all that well, especially at the start. The first period was awful with not one Tampa Bay scoring chance. But a little soul searching between the first and second periods gave everyone a lift, and after tying the score, some more between the second and third periods put everyone on the same page. And considering the way the third periods have gone lately (and the lingering sourness about Saturday's late loss to Florida), playing a solid third and pulling it out in overtime was a minor miracle.
I'm not saying anything about the future of this team. I'm not predicting anything. There are still tons of holes and inconsistencies. But top players such as Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards and Vinny Prospal seem to be finding their scoring touches. And you can't deny the third and fourth lines, particularly Craig MacDonald and Nick Tarnasky, Andreas Karlsson, Mathieu Darche and Chris Gratton, have been showing some grit. Now if only Michel Ouellet and Jan Hlavac could get involved.
And you have to give it up to a group that has stayed tight in the locker room, hasn't pointed fingers, accepted the coaching of John Tortorella, whom I believe has done a pretty good job this season, and ripped off six straight wins on the road, one off the franchise mark.
Perhaps the team is on the good side of the breaks for once as what could have been a disaster, when Vinny Lecavalier took a shot off the left foot/ankle in the second period, might be, as one Lightning person said, "a normal postgame bump.'' Keep an eye on him, though, as he was limping pretty good after the game.
The bottom line is this. The Lightning is in the chase. It will take consistency and some good bounces to win it. For now, though, maybe we just enjoy the ride.