The Tampa Bay Lightning's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday wasn't as embarrassing as the 3-0 score suggested. The Penguins scored two goals in 18 seconds halfway through the third period and the game was all but over.
Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular in goal and stopped all of the Lightning's 32 shots. There were signs of life from the Lightning through the first two periods, but the Penguins took control in the third off of goals from Alexei Kovalev, Arron Asham and an empty netter by Chris Kunitz.
While Tampa Bay's defense is suspect, the system that head coach Guy Boucher instilled has cut down on the amount of shots against. I can't ever remember a time where the Lightning only gave up 20 shots in a relatively consistent fashion. Even in 2004 when Tampa hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup, they gave up a good number of shots per game and the defense wasn't great. The defense will play better and they will block more shots.
The third and fourth lines aren't the focus of the offense. Usually the bottom two lines are energy lines that contribute goals here and there. They will still be needed, but considering that they did give some energy to the team, it is tough to complain about their play. Guys like Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson are three of the lower line guys to watch in the coming games.
With the mass of playoff experience both of these players have, it is only a matter of time before they get hot and start carrying the team like they have for so long. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier will have better production, even though they are paired up against the Pittsburgh Penguins top line. Lecavalier had four shots and St. Louis had two, not to mention the fact that St. Louis got hit in the face with a stick early in the game.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had six power play opportunities to Tampa Bay's one. Both of the Lightning's special teams squads are ranked in the top 10. Special teams is one of the main focuses of Guy Boucher and both sides have been solid all year long. That will have to continue on the penalty kill. There will be more penalties and more chances for the Lightning in the series.
It is tough to criticise Roloson except for one play. The second Penguins goal was slightly his fault because he followed the puck instead of staying in his crease. This allowed for the wrap around goal that all but sealed the game. Other than that he was just as good as Marc-Andre Fleury. He stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced while proving his save percentage isn't just a useless stat.
For the leading goal scorer in the NHL, scoring goals has been tough as of late. He only had one shot in Game 1 and had two blocked. Now that his playoff debut is out of the way he can focus on playing well and living up to his name. Not many players have great games their first time out there. Playoff hockey is a different breed of the game and now that he has seen it, he can be the great player that he is. It's Stammer Time.