It has often been said that revenge is a dish best served cold. And the Tampa Bay Lightning were undoubtedly hoping for a little payback Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators. Which made a fresh sheet of home-ice the perfect place to start.
Still, something felt a little off about Tampa's 5-2 victory:
This team was on fire .
Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis were burning Ottawan blue liners like practiced arsonists. Ryan Malone, Alex Tanguay, and countless others repeatedly set the net ablaze, with no apparent regard for the safety of Ottawa's backup netminder, Bill Elliot. And Ottawa's much-vaunted offense?
Nothing but a puff of smoke, folks.
Extinguished by Mike Smith and the D-boys.
So much for ice-cold revenge. This win was exactly the type of statement a team looking to be taken seriously needs to make. And the Lightning—thanks, in part, to the Ottawa Senators and that infamous thumping—are still in the process of making a name for themselves as the '09 season shifts into second gear.
To be sure, opposing head coaches will be taking a closer look at their schedules after Thursday night's wildfire:
A blaze of this size is visible a long way off.
Even so, Tampa is taking the victory in stride. While the team is clearly getting closer to utilizing the full potential of its roster on a nightly basis, gains can evaporate as quickly as they appear. Without hard work and discipline, even the most talented of teams can fall prey to inconsistency.
In the aftermath of the game, captain Vincent Lecavlier said about as much:
"If we keep skating and keep working hard, things will work out for this hockey club. This is a totally different team from last year."
Bingo, Vinnie. Now, if you'll allow for one minor adjustment:
This was a totally different team from last week .