Young Bolts Still Learning How To Win Consistently

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIINovember 22, 2009

You get nights light these with a team still trying to figure it out. In a 3-1 loss to a team the Lightning need to learn to squash, Tampa Bay was beaten soundly.

It happens in an 82 game schedule, you'll have an off night or two. Even the Penguins have clunkers.

For a young hockey team like the Lightning, every single opportunity at two points is crucial.

On this night, against the 5-12-5 Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay's top players decided to take a vacation and watched two of those precious standings points disappear.

Alex Tanguay, Steven Stamkos, and Ryan Malone had two shots on goal between them. Vincent Lecavalier did put five shots on goal, but he was "Bad Vinny" in this one, not really giving the effort his team knows he can provide.

It was a performance where Steve Downie was the best player on the ice for the Lightning. Even Martin St. Louis, who had the Bolts only goal, was missing his usual sparkplug "oomph".

"I am a little disappointed in some of the top guys," Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Rick Tocchet said. "Some of our other top guys just didn't show up tonight."

Even their opponents noticed.

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"I don't know how good Tampa was tonight," Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo said. "They didn't seem to have the jump they usually have."

Perhaps they had jet lag. After all, they've been on the west coast for the last week and had to take a cross country flight on Friday after falling to the Anaheim Ducks in overtime.

Or maybe they took the injury riddled Hurricanes lightly.

When you're a young hockey team, that can happen. You walk in, think you can coast and still win the game. In the NHL, you can never coast and win.

Lesson learned, Tampa Bay. Say goodbye to the 4-0-3 streak.

Tonight the Lightning will get a shot at redemption. Playing another team behind them in the standings (albeit by one point) in the Atlanta Thrashers, the Lightning look to finish this four game road trip strong.

With a victory over the slumping Thrashers (losers of two straight after a 6-2 run), they'll get five out of a possible eight road points during this trip, an acceptable tally on the road by most.

To beat Atlanta, though, the Lightning can't expect to show up and have the Thrashers cower off the ice. If anything, Atlanta wants to pass up the Lightning and take aim at the top dog in the Southeast division, the Caps.

After taking the night off against Carolina, hopefully the Lightning stars have that "oomph" back in their game tonight.


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