It was the third straight “must win” game. The Lightning were coming off consecutive home losses in which they looked horrible. It looked like the effort was there…until the second period.
Travis Konecny, Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier and Radko Gudas scored in the second period to lead the Philadelphia Flyers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Michal Neuvirth made 24 saves in his first game since November 12 after missing 24 because of a left knee injury.
The fact that the Lightning lost again is not that alarming. What is distressing is who they lost to and how they lost. They were routed by a team coming off being beaten in five straight games and losing seven of their last eight. Tampa Bay gave up a season high 44 shots. They took the lead 1-0 after the first period but the Flyers scored four times in the second.
The Bolts had the chance to pull within one point of the final wild card spot. Instead they they are now five points back of the Flyers. “The time is now,” Coach Jon Cooper said. He went on, “When you just don’t have that passion to go to the net and shoot the puck to score, it’s tough to win games.”
The Bolts remain two points back of the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Alex Killorn spoke of “false confidence” and “No fight back.” The coach talked about a lack of passion. These comments during a so-called playoff run. Something is very wrong.
Simmonds was not penalized on the play and Brown did not return to the game after the hit.
Many are calling for Cooper’s head, some think GM Steve Yzerman should be doing more. The trade market is tough. Not many are looking for a trade partner, especially one offering up an oft injured, free agent to be, freakishly tall goalie.
“If there was something I could have done to this point that would make our team better, I would have done it,” Yzerman said. “We’ll keep trying.”
The team needs a top four defenseman. Team defense has gone from fifth in goals against last year to 22nd (2.61) this year. The team has allowed f our or more goals 15 times. The goaltending has fallen from grace too. The penalty kill is under 80% and ranks 24th in the NHL. Tampa Bay has allowed the first goal in 26 of 41 games.
Beat writer Joe Smith asked Yzerman if it was a coaching issue. His response, “It’s all of us, we’re all in this together. This just doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately it takes time to teach, to learn and apply it. It just takes time.”
Tampa Bay will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins tomorrow at 5:00 PM. Things have to change quickly.