October 20, 2011

Bolts get Revenge on Isles

Somewhere deep down, I think we all realized we didn't see the real Tampa Bay Lightning last week, even if their defense is a bit weak on paper.

On Thursday night, the Lightning showed us why they still are one of the top teams in the East with their offense. Ryan Malone, Vincent Lecavalier, and Steven Stamkos all scored to lead the Lightning to victory.

The Islanders had some issues with puck possession. It showed in particular around the boards, where the Isles seemed to loose many battles. Losing those battles costs you chances to get the puck to the net, and the Isles had registered only 10 shots through two periods.

It goes without saying that's not very good. It left Al Montoya out to dry. He wasn't as sharp as he had been in his first few games, but he was tested with some hard shots and made some nice saves. The Islanders seemed to be back on their heels for much of the game, and let the Lightning get into the slot areas where they scored most of their goals.

Keeping with the defensive side of things, I thought Steve Staios had a really nice game. He made some good blocks, and broke up that Brett Connolly breakaway by getting the puck before the player. It was a heads-up, veteran play that not many would have been able to make there. He showed some nice speed on both ends and even jumped into the offense a few times, but was responsible enough that once the puck was turned over he got back the other way quickly. I hope we can see more of that from him this season, and so far the Isles are keeping his minutes at a very good level for him to sustain that.

Even though he didn't score, John Tavares has a nice game as far as the forwards are concerned. He skated hard and seemed to be the only one working along the boards at times. He was up against a lot of pressure all night and still got in some nice chances and got to the net more often than his teammates did.

The real story of the game was the Isles scratching Blake Comeau for a second straight game. Comeau sat in favor of Trevor Gillies despite the Lightning not having any goons in their line-up for him to go with. He didn't get much time, but did see some garbage time minutes on the wing with Tavares and P.A. Parenteau.

Howie Rose made some interesting comments during the telecast. He mentioned that he tried to get some information out of Jack Capuano about why Comeau has been scratched. In trying to differentiate if it was on or off-ice related, Capuano wouldn't budge. The fact that he's very non-committal is interesting to me. It's no secret that Comeau's contract, as well as current spot among the forwards makes him a prime candidate to be dealt away. It remains to be seen if that's how this story ends here, or if this drags on a little while longer.

On our podcast from this past weekend, Sean and I both agreed that Capuano should go with a Montoya-Nabokov split for this Florida trip. I still think Nabby should get the nod in Sunrise, despite Rick DiPietro being on the trip. Again, while Montoya wasn't bad tonight, if you start Nabby and he plays well, then I would say he's the hot hand for now and roll with that. The goalie of the evening won't matter much though if the Islanders are going to let themselves get pushed around in the corners again. That will have to change.

Speaking of change, Capuano did hint at some line-up changes during the post game. He was shuffling some of the lines during the game, and we saw Kyle Okposo end up on the 3rd line for a good chunk of the game. I think that's an indication of where we can see things headed as far as line combinations are concerned.

If it gets the secondary offense going, then we'll be better for it.



Feel free to leave your thoughts of the game in comments, don't be shy!

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