What did Michael Jordan once say? “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”
There’s not much basketball and hockey have in common, other than the fact they both have nets. But that statement from basketball’s greatest player ever is just the right balm for the battered and bruised pride of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who would do well to memorize that advice verbatim, because their future has success written all over it.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning – Center of the Universe™ time, of course – your trusty correspondent was crucified in Twitter for suggesting that the Los Angeles Kings should seriously consider starting Martin Jones for Game 4 of their first-round series against the San Jose Sharks.
The critics were pretty evenly split between one camp that insisted that none of the Kings troubles in the first three games could be dropped at Jonathan Quick’s doorstep and a group that worried about what kind of message that would send and whether it would damage his relationship with the Kings moving forward. All in all, the general sentiment could be summed up in the following Tweet: “You’re (expletive) kidding, right?”
Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean apologized for his careening remarks about Quebec-raised referee Francis Charron in the wake of Montreal’s Game 3 victory over Tampa, one in which the officiating certainly was on the dicey side. In bringing up Charron’s ethnicity, MacLean stepped into a hornet’s nest involving one of Canada’s distinct cultures – not to mention the only NHL team left in French-Canadian territory.
Was Charron’s goalie interference call, the one that nullified a Tampa Bay goal in a 1-1 contest, a poor one? Sure looked like it:
But this was not a matter of malice on the ref’s part. If anything, it was one of indecision – and that speaks to Charron’s inexperience, not his home province.
Although the Tampa Bay Lightning turned a Game 4 stinker into a thriller, they were unable to overcome poor defense and even poorer goaltending that nagged them throughout Montreal’s sweep.
As was popularly predicted, the loss of goalie Ben Bishop to injury was too much for the Lightning. He had emerged as the backbone behind a work-in-progress defense and had a significant hand in Tampa’s evolution and growth this season. He entered the Vezina conversation as a top 10 goalie in GAA and SP, but without Bishop, the Lightning more closely resembled the team that missed the playoffs the past two years. Read more
For Ryan O’Reilly to be passed over for the Lady Byng Trophy this season would require members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to blunder almost as badly as they did last year when they made Alexander Ovechkin an first-team all-star at both left and right wing.
O’Reilly plays big minutes – 24th in the league in 5-on-5 ice time per game – against the opponents’ best lines and led the league in takeaways, all the while only getting two penalty minutes this season. In his 72nd game, he broke his stick on a faceoff against Logan Couture and kicked the puck back to his defenseman before being called for playing with a broken stick. O’Reilly led his team in goals, logged more ice time than any other forward on the team and manages to get the puck away from his opponents without going on the wrong side of the rulebook. Read more
Despite his team trailing 3-0 in its series against Montreal and a day after a controversial call was made that overturned a goal his team had scored, Tampa coach Jon Cooper had a little fun with the media and his goal scoring captain.
As Steven Stamkos was doing his job as captain at the center of a day-off media scrum, the Lightning coach crept up behind all the microphones and stuck his water bottle into the fray. Read more
The Montreal Canadiens deserve full credit for their Game 3 win – and their 3-0 series lead – against Tampa Bay, but if you’re a Lightning player, coach or fan, you’ve got to wonder if things would have taken a different turn had Ryan Callahan’s goal with less than five minutes left in the second period counted instead of being waived off for goalie interference.
I, like most people, thought at first that the goal should have counted, but after digging into Rule 69.3 (after reading a tweet from former NHL referee turned TSN analyst Kerry Fraser), I started to waiver.
Rule 69.3 states… Read more
On the heels of the Quebec League’s Halifax Mooseheads’ incredible light show from last week, the Montreal Canadiens rolled out their own must-see laser/highlight-projection production prior to Game 3 against the Lightning. From classy tributes to electrifying entertaining, no one, and I mean no one, does pre-game like the Habs.
If you tuned in late, here it is…