Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Fennelly: Lightning effort for first 40 minutes inexcusable (w/video)

TAMPA — Does Jonathan Drouin ever get tired of being in the middle of everything?

Enough of that.

As much as it took the wind from its sails, the Lightning needs to forget about the offsides call that wiped out a Drouin goal that would have been the first of Tuesday night. This is no time for blowhard complaining.

Whatever happened to its mental toughness that got it here?

How do you not show up for two periods?

The Lightning rallied, eventually, behind two Brian Boyle goals but still came up well short in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final, losing 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Those last 20 minutes made the first 40 that much more appalling.

Inexcusable.

It did know it had a chance for a trip to the Stanley Cup final, right?

"If you're not at your best, it's near impossible to win. We paid for it tonight," Boyle said.

Inexcusable.

So it's on to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final on Thursday night, back in Pittsburgh, just as Penguins star Evgeni Malkin predicted.

The Lightning made the guy look like the prophet Evgeni.

Great.

What the Lightning needs to remember is how lousy it was in the first and second periods. It was down 3-0 before it awoke in the third.

The Lightning needs to remember how the Penguins took this game over for two periods. The Lightning didn't begin to match Pittsburgh's intensity. No jam. No jump. No win. Inexcusable.

The Lightning was outshot 14-4 in that first period. It had 11 shots through two periods.

"A lot of one and dones, not getting a lot of pucks through," winger Ryan Callahan said.

Pittsburgh's best players were its best players. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist. Two of the Lightning's best players stumbled.

Tampa Bay went two men down when Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman went to the penalty box, Stralman for interference, Hedman for delay of game during the penalty kill.

Shortly thereafter: Penguins goal. That man, Phil Kessel, again. 1-0. It went from there.

Now there's another Game 7, another hill to climb.

Understand, the Lightning climbed one just like that last playoffs. It was blown out at home by the Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final to force a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. The Lightning won 2-0 to make the Stanley Cup final, Ben Bishop was in goal. Only there's no Bishop in sight at the moment.

"We had a great chance tonight," Boyle said. "We kind of tiptoed around it. We weren't aggressive. We weren't on top of it. We weren't skating."

Where was the compete the first two periods? Where was the sustained time in the Penguins' end? Also, Penguins goalie Matt Murray, back in net, was very, very good.

Wasted was a fairly solid performance by 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy, who kept the Lightning in the game as best he could. But where was the help?

It was a bad night to lay an egg. Especially after all this team had overcome on the way to Game 6. The Lightning has been without Steven Stamkos, its leading goal scorer, all playoffs, and without Bishop, its Vezina Trophy finalist, since Game 1 of this series.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper will need to bring his team back physically and mentally. History suggests this team is very good at Game 7s. It even won a Game 7 at Pittsburgh in 2011, completing a comeback from 3-1 down to take the series. And there was Game 7 at the Garden last year.

Maybe the Lightning has the Penguins right where it wants them.

It's still not where you want to be.

Comments
Vegas-Lightning, of all things, is the biggest show in town

Vegas-Lightning, of all things, is the biggest show in town

TAMPA — It's Vegas night.Who would have thought we would have been circling this one on the schedule before the NHL season began?Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.We've circled it just the same.It's Vegas night.Any wa...
Updated: 6 hours ago
With Victor Hedman out, Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek finally gets chance to prove himself

With Victor Hedman out, Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek finally gets chance to prove himself

TAMPA — When it comes to replacing its top defenseman, the Lightning realizes that’s not possible."Let’s be honest," coach Jon Cooper said. "Nobody in that room is Victor Hedman."But with Hedman out three to six weeks with a lower-body injury, it mea...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Could Mikhail Sergachev replace Hedman on All-Star team?

Could Mikhail Sergachev replace Hedman on All-Star team?

With Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with a lower body injury, he has to get replaced on the Atlantic Division team. There are plenty of strong candidates to fill the void, including the Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly and Boston rookie C...
Published: 01/17/18
Rick and Tom podcast: Can the Lightning keep up this pace?

Rick and Tom podcast: Can the Lightning keep up this pace?

In their latest podcast, Tom Jones sits down with Joe Smith to catch up on the Lightning through 44 games as it gets set to come back from the bye week. Will the Lightning be looking to add pieces at the trade deadline, who might it have to give up,...
Published: 01/17/18
What are the Ducks getting in J.T. Brown? What is Tampa Bay losing?

What are the Ducks getting in J.T. Brown? What is Tampa Bay losing?

The Ducks claimed right wing J.T. Brown off waivers Sunday because they wanted depth on their fourth line with a forward who could play both wings and center."We will not bring him there to sit in the stands," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told reporters...
Published: 01/17/18
How the Lightning ‘practices’ without practicing

How the Lightning ‘practices’ without practicing

TAMPA – The Lightning is scheduled to take the ice late Wednesday morning at Amalie Arena to do something it hasn't done since, well, last year.Practice.You have to go back to Dec. 27, the day the Lightning returned from the Christmas brea...
Published: 01/16/18
Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- it’s TV tidbits time

Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- it’s TV tidbits time

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best comebackExcuse Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for getting so carried away that he dropped the queen bee of curse words on live television Sun...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning’s five-day break comes at particularly good time

Lightning’s five-day break comes at particularly good time

By ROGER MOONEYTAMPA — Before the last game on the Lightning’s last road trip, coach Jon Cooper asked his team if anyone was tired.It was an obvious question, given the Lightning was playing the second game of a back-to-back set, had lost 6-3 at Otta...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning’s J.T. Brown claimed off waivers by Ducks

Lightning’s J.T. Brown claimed off waivers by Ducks

Wing J.T. Brown is headed from the Lightning to the Ducks.Anaheim claimed Brown off waivers by Sunday’s noon deadline. He was placed on waivers Saturday to create roster flexibility for calling up players from AHL Syracuse, general manager Steve Yzer...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

TAMPA — Two weeks from today, this city will host its first special NHL event in nearly two decades with the All-Star Game at Amalie Arena. The last All-Star Game in Tampa was 1999. But it sounds like the city won’t have to wait nearly a...
Published: 01/13/18
Updated: 01/14/18