Some things in life are a mystery, and hockey is no different. There are occurrences that happen in games occasionally that just don't seem to make any sense. Like how one team can always dominate another team, even though if you compare them player by player and roster to roster, it doesn't seem like they should be able to? Like how a goalie who is susceptible to high shots, never had to face any high shots? Like how a team who looked like a million dollars one night, suddenly can't pass, can't receive passes, and can't shoot the next night?
The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes last night, 2-1 in a game not nearly as close as the score. While the Canes tightened up their defense a bit, their offense was an exercise in futility all night long. Again, the team had trouble breaking out of their own zone. When they did, Tampa Bay did an excellent job of clogging things up in the neutral zone. The Canes did have a few opportunities to score, but they either whiffed, shot it wide, or were unable to lift the puck 6 inches into the wide open spaces above a sprawling Johan Holmqvist. There was one time in an extended powerplay opportunity late in the 2nd period when the young goalie spent more time on his back than he did his skates, and the Canes still couldn't find the back of the net. Justin Williams missed a point blank chance when he failed to lift the puck a couple of inches and Johan grabbed it. Cory Stillman missed two open nets. Like I said, it's a mystery. In each of the chances, the top part of the net was wide open. Perhaps the guys forgot that when they beat Tampa Bay in Raleigh, all of their scores were on shots up high? Tripp Tracy mentioned it a few times on the telecast tonight, so it wasn't a secret.
Cam Ward played a good game. The scores against him were both top shelf and on very tough shots. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis had the tallies. Both were on the powerplay as the Boltz took further advantage of the worst penalty killers in the NHL. The Canes scored a meaningless goal with 13 seconds left in the game as Stillman tipped in a David Tanabe shot. Let's take a look at some of the stats and my offhand observations:
- They had 20 hits, about half the hits they had against the Rangers (36)
- They were outshot, 32-24, but 10 of their shots were in the 3rd period, in desperate catch-up mode. Again, too little too late.
- They were pretty much dominated for 3 periods, meaning the Lightning have outplayed them 11 of 12 periods so far this year.
- They continually attempt blind, fancy drop passes, that don't work. All of them seem to be trying it from time to time, and it's painful to watch. For instance on one powerplay, Brind'Amour skated over the blueline and left a drop pass that St. Louis darted in immediately to steal, because at that point it was predictable and he knew it was coming.
- Did I mention that they failed to shoot high on Holmqvist, even though that is his known weakness?
Thank goodness they only have to play Tampa Bay 6 times next year instead of 8! Tim Gleason should think twice next time before he says in public that the Boltz only have one line to worry about. (the quote was posted in the Tampa Bay locker room the previous game. Think they forgot about it?) Timmy, apparently that one line is good enough to beat ya'll!. The next game is in Montreal, a place where the Canes usually have a bit more luck. Will the team ever be able to put together a few good performances in a row? Maybe on the next homestand. Everyone knew this road trip would be tough, and it's certainly proving to be.