Feb. 09, 2018
Lightning head home after blowout loss in Edmonton
We knew it would happen sometime. After playing eight straight on the road and 17 of their last 24, the Lightning just ran out of gas against a young and talented Edmonton Oilers team. The Oilers who are fighting for a playoff spot ran the Lightning right of the building in a 6-2 win.
The Lightning had no answer for Conner McDavid who torched the Lightning defense for 4 goals and 5 points in the Oilers win. The Oilers who have the worst power play in the league were 2/4 on the night and scored on their first two power plays. The PK has been a problem for the Lightning all season long.
This was one of the sloppiest games I have seen the Lightning Play in a long time. Yes the Lightning have been on the road for an extended road trip, but this is where mental toughness comes in to play. All championship teams have it, and the Lightning didn’t have it against the Oilers.
The tight defensive play that the Lightning relied on early in the season is gone as the team has allowed over 30 shots in six straight games. There are too many odd-man rushes being allowed, turnovers in their own zone. Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled in the game last night and replaced by Louis Domingue who couldn’t stop the Oilers either.
These last four games the Lightning have gone 2-2 but it feels like they have gone 0-4 by the way they have played.
Victor Hedman returned at the start of this four game road trip but has not played like the All-Star that he is.
As Jon Cooper said earlier this season and Tyler Johnson said it again last night, The team is playing hard just not playing smart.
So where do the Lightning go from here? Four of the next six will be at home starting Thursday night against Vancouver. The Lightning will have a couple of good practices before then and here are a few things the coaches should demand.
Defensive accountability from everyone. Get back to a strong forecheck. Eliminate sloppy and lazy passes. Trust the system that you had such great success with to start the season.
Maybe this is just a mid-season funk for the Lightning. All teams go through one during the course of an 82 game season. The Lightning are going back and forth with Vegas for the best record in the NHL. The Boston Bruins are creeping closer to the Lightning in the division standings.
The rest of the season, the Lightning will only play seven games against the Western Conference. The remaining games are against the Eastern Conference and the majority of those games are against their division opponents.
There is a lot of hockey to be played yet. We have seen this team go through these spells before and turn it around. The Lightning are still in a great spot and can still make a deep playoff run. But they need to raise their overall intensity and level of play and that needs to start Thursday night against the Canucks