Spotlight again on the defense
Interesting discussion this morning of what it will take to beat the Senators and it had everything to do with the defense playing a north-south instead of an east-west game; that is, making plays up the ice rather than across it, or even worse, across the defensive zone.
Friday's game against the Penguins was a prime example. When the transition was straight ahead, the Lightning thrived, and the forecheck was strong, as we saw in the first and third periods. When the game seemed side-to-side, with the defense making passes to each other rather than the forwards who have done such a good job lately coming back to be available for passes up the ice, the Lightning was on its heels a bit, as they were in the second period.
Do that kind of stuff against the Senators, one of the quickest teams in the league, and it will be a long night. There also is the chance the forwards start to get antsy. If they're not getting the puck, perhaps they get frustrated and begin drifting up the ice. That leaves the defense even more at a disadvantage.
Coach John Tortorella said the onus is on the defense to be aware of the help provided by the forwards, knowing where the forwards are and getting them the puck.
"I just don't think we're a smart team sometimes,'' he said. "You can make it an easier game for yourself if you just stay smart and stay within the concept that's successful. We fluctuate there. We put ourselves in tougher situations not because of the other team but because of the way we play. That's something we need to work on, situational play and what's going on within the game.''