Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said his team was an angry lot following a second straight loss to Montreal in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series.
And you know what? He liked it.
“There was a difference in the room after we lost Game 4 (compared to) Game 5. It was a genuine pissed-off attitude when we lost Game 5,” Cooper said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I could just tell, there was nothing that really needed to be said. Guys were angry, it’s carried over.
“I like our mojo right now. I want to be an angry team.”
There were signs of Tampa Bay’s frustration immediately following Game 5. Goalie Ben Bishop called out his mates, saying “it’s tough when you only show up for half the game” while captain Steve Stamkos added “this one (stinks).”
And it’s easy to see why the Bolts are getting irate.
Carey Price has been tremendous over the last two games, stopping 46 of 49 shots (a .939 save percentage). But within those numbers lies a problem for Tampa Bay — its shot totals have been woefully low this series. After putting 35 on Price in the opener (which happened in double OT), they’ve since registered 24, 19, 24 and 25 shots in goal in the four subsequent games. For a team that led the NHL in goals per game during the regular season and averaged 29.6 shots per contest, it’s a pretty noticeable decline.
“We haven’t had our best stuff yet,” veteran forward Brenden Morrow told the Tampa Bay Times. “We still believe our best hockey matches up pretty good against other teams’ best hockey. We just have to find a way to muster it up.”
Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they’ve got an opportunity to “muster it up” at the friendly confines of Amalie Arena. The Bolts were an NHL-best 32-8-1 at home this year.