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Like a spider with a fly


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@TropicalFruitGirl26 this is for you. And for @SpikeDDS.


 I watched the Wings and Lightning a couple of nights ago, fun start to the game, the Wings up 3-0 in the second period but I am gonna be honest, even 3-0 I never for one moment thought the Wings were going to win. Never.


  First thing, the Bolts own the Wings right now they dont just beat us they humiliate us. Second, they do that to about everyone right now, the Bolts were going for their team record tying win and against a depleted roster like the Wings have. Third, the Bolts might simply have the deepest roster from top to bottom that anyone has ever had during the expansion era. 


 Kenny Dryden who was in net for the Canadien Dynasty that was the seventies said a lot of times the Habs would get bored playing a bad team and would fall behind by a goal or two because unconsciously they knew it didn't matter, they were bound to come back and win regardless. That is Tampa V Detroit right now.


 So the Bolts spotted the boys a field goal and a half a game like a spider playing with a fly in a web, the wings were the fly, thinking they had it made that they were going to pull one out. Then Stammer happened. Then Kucherov.  


 The Lightning are a ton of fun to watch, skill everywhere the pundits are asking themselves if anyone can beat them, watching them spot the Wings a field goal just for funsies before piling on says that boredom is about the only thing that can beat this team. If they go into the playoffs with any type of momentum and most importantly remain healthy there isn't any NHL roster alive who can hang with them.

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At the risk of sounding arrogant (believe me, I am NOT), in watching the TB-DET game (and some others here and there during the year), I honestly felt that boredom really was the bigger opponent the Lightning face.

Heck, I even started a thread titled "The Challenge for the TB Lightning" basically saying this very thing:
The Bolts are so far ahead of every other team that they need to find ways to keep themselves engaged, night in, night out, no matter who they play.


I saw Detroit come hard at Tampa Bay, like they always do, and saw the Wings look like their hard work was going to overcome whatever depth or skill the Lightning had.....and as a fan of the Bolts, I saw this as, "Well, the Lightning will either storm back...…..or lose this and just get it together again next game and not worry about it"

A hint of apathy coming from me, as a fan, of all things. Go figure. 
And while I can afford to be that way sometimes, I know the team cannot (not if they really want that Stanley Cup).
But lo and behold, the Bolts did take control of things in the game vs the Wings and well, we know the final result.


Crazy thing is, the Wings did everything the way they were SUPPOSED to against Tampa Bay. 
They played focused, they played hard, they took advantage of Bolts mistakes, and they created their own whenever TB gave them even a hint of daylight..... just wasn't enough.

And once I saw that it was Justin Abdelkader that seemed to be taking center stage in the charge against the Lightning, I actually started to smile a bit there because, as tough a game, and as enthusiastically as Abby plays, I already knew that his style of play is not the be-all recipe for success (tough, physical with a we-gonna-beat-you-up swagger) that it once was against a team like the Lightning.

Teams are finding out one by one, that the Tampa Bay Lightning simply aren't the same skilled team of years past that can be pushed around, jolted around, and thrown off their game simply because "they don't like to get hit".

This version of the team not only CAN take hits, but in many games, they INITIATE the physical contact and make it part of their game!
As if having skill, depth, defense, and goaltending well above other teams wasn't unfair enough.....NOW, they hit people just as hard, START it up themselves, and play a physical game second to none in the NHL.


If Detroit were going to really hang on and win this, it HAD to be guys like Vanek, Zadina, Larkin (yes, I know, he didn't play, but his ilk of player is what's needed against a team like TB), Athanasiou, and perhaps Mantha….those players had to be focal points, along with the support of tough physical efforts from Abby, Witkowski, and of course, The Kron Wall.

The most ironic thing to me in all this, this dominance that TB seems to have over Det these days, is that Steve Yzerman, a freakin Wings lifer, is the one who built the Lightning....in the very image of those dominant Detroit Red Wings teams he was a part of for many years.

In fact, I had said many times in various threads, "If Yzerman can build the Lightning to be anywhere near as successful as his very good Wings teams of the past, and set them up to win for years to come, I will be a very satisfied and happy fan"
Well, looks like Yzerman gave me my wish, and has taught his understudy Brisbois the same, as he seems to be continuing along the same blueprint.


I am also thankful for Lightning leaders such as Steve Stamkos, Alex Killorn, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Callahan, and Victor Hedman, just to name a few, who approach things very business-like.
They never seem to get too high, or too low, don't overreact to anything, yet at the same time, seem to understand the urgency in turning things around if it looks like a team may have exposed a weakness......and they do a good job keeping the rest of the team engaged in any given game played...……..likely the result of not only personal character, but from lessons learned in the past.

The Bolts seem to be a southern mirror image of what the Wings once were.
Detroit fans NOW know how many of the rest of us felt when having to deal with those juggernaut Wings teams...….I can only continue to hope the Tampa Bay success is as long lasting as the Detroit success was.

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  The most amazing stat of the year:


 Boston went on their tear, they went 15-0-4 running slipshod over the league pushing themselves into the second best record in the league ahead of everyone in every other division. Simply dominated their opponents and the entire league.


  At the end of the streak, caps on purpose, THE BRUINS WERE STILL 17 POINTS BEHIND THE LIGHTNING.


 How Tampa can possibly get up for every game against teams like the Wings or Senators or Wild is beyond me.


 But if you look at the Bolts when they are facing someone like the Capitals or Toronto or the Peg, elite teams they play as if it were a playoff game and crush the opponents will early. I respect and love watching this team play against other great teams. They make great teams look silly.

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2 minutes ago, yave1964 said:

   How Tampa can possibly get up for every game against teams like the Wings or Senators or Wild is beyond me.


 But if you look at the Bolts when they are facing someone like the Capitals or Toronto or the Peg, elite teams they play as if it were a playoff game and crush the opponents will early. I respect and love watching this team play against other great teams. They make great teams look silly.


This part here.
I have wondered the same.

But I think a big part of it is, a HUGE lesson learned from last season.
If you remember, the Bolts were up big on the Atlantic last year as well.....then lackluster play, taking too many "games off" against much lesser opponents, and just seemingly general "oh, we got this...we are going to the playoffs" set in...and they ALMOST lost that big lead they had....and even looked a bit shaky starting the playoffs before finally getting things in gear and making their run to the East Finals where, of course, they lost to eventual champs, Washington.


I think that burns pretty damned hot in the memories of many Bolts players, and again, kudos to the team leader, if not the coach himself, for keeping the teams' collective heads on straight and NOT buying into their own hype the league is bestowing on them.

Even with all that, the Bolts, some games, DO look like they are just going through the motions, but then something, in-game, or something said on the bench, whatever it is...sparks them....and some games, they just get beat, some games they pull it together and remember they have unfinished business with regards to a championship, and they get things done....and it doesn't matter if they are playing Ottawa/Los Angeles, or Boston/Washington....they go out there and do what they do.

It also certainly helps that other teams bring their absolute best against the Lightning too.
That West Canadian trip the Bolts took some time back...EVERY frickin team...from Winnipeg, to Vancouver, to Calgary, to Edmonton....ALL played the Lightning like it was the Stanley Cup Finals!

Those things help the Bolts realize, "hey, no matter how good you are, someone out there, even if they are in 29th place in the league, is looking to knock your block off and make a name for themselves at your expense"


And in the case of the other legit contenders, they want to make sure the Lightning understand that NOTHING will be given to them.

Coach Jon Cooper has the perfect storm of talent, leadership, and probably most important, egos are all checked at the door, so four lines can legitimately be rolled out there (TB 4th liners tend to play as many minutes as some other teams 3rd and some 2nd lines!), and due to the depth of defense, the Bolts even set up a freakin rotation of defensemen where one guy sits out occasionally so EVERYONE gets playing time.

I just really feel the Bolts do not want the embarrassment of being the best, by far, in the regular season....then be a dud in the playoffs....or at the very least, the victim of some very unlikely Cinderella team.
And for the most part, they conduct themselves that way on the ice no matter who they play.

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@yave1964 @TropicalFruitGirl26


Reminds me of when the 2002 Wings lost their first two games of the SCF's to the Hurricane's. They were BORED! And Yzerman and Lidstrom looked at the team and said, "Wake up!"


And they did!


The Bolts are very much like that, and it's amazing that they have been able to assemble this kind of talent pool in the salary cap era. I didn't think this was possible. Turns out it is.

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