Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins - Game Seven

Guy Boucher slams scheduling for Lightning’s latest loss

7 Comments

Now that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ six-game losing streak is over with, the Tampa Bay Lightning might replace them as the NHL’s coldest team with an 0-5-1 skid of their own.

The biggest story from the Washington Capitals’ 4-3 win against Tampa Bay should be Troy Brouwer’s first career hat trick, but Lightning head coach Guy Boucher might steal the spotlight with his rants about the league’s scheduling. The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno captured Boucher’s frustrations about the Lightning’s losses in back-to-back games.

“We’re already behind the eight ball before the game even starts,” Boucher said. “If we would’ve played at least one good game on the road on a back-to-back, I would say, ‘We can do this, we can manage.’ We have never done it. We’ve always got our butts whipped and looked horrible.”

Tampa Bay suffered a gut-wrenching loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night and then turned around to face the Capitals in D.C. tonight.

That is indeed a challenge and it’s true that the Bolts have looked ugly in back-to-back games in which the second contest was on the road. Here’s the rub, though: including tonight’s loss, they’re just 0-3-0. That’s not a good thing, but it’s not as if the Lightning are running into this problem on a constant basis.

Boucher and Tampa Bay are going to have to suck it up as this season goes along, too. Here are the remaining games in which at least the second contest of a back-to-back set is on the road:

Friday, Jan. 20: at Dallas
Saturday, Jan. 21: at Phoenix

Saturday, Feb. 11: at Buffalo
Sunday, Feb. 12: at Pittsburgh

Saturday, Feb. 25: at Pittsburgh
Sunday, Feb. 26: at New Jersey

Friday, March 2: vs. Rangers
Saturday, March 3: at Carolina

Monday, March 26: at Philadelphia
Tuesday, March 27: at Boston

Wednesday, April 4: at Montreal
Thursday, April 5: at Toronto

Boucher told reporters that the Lightning did everything they could to win tonight’s game, but if Tampa Bay wants to turn things around, they’ll need to actually make it happen in those stretches.

Even if they’re cursing the schedulers on the way.

Oh yeah, in case you’re curious, here’s video of Brouwer’s first career hat trick, with the empty-netter eventually turning into a game-winning goal.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

3 Comments

Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

7 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

23 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

13 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.