Bolts Do Not Measure Up; Wings Win 6-2

By on February 18, 2011

By: Dave Jarvis (RSE Hockey)

Tampa, Fl. — (RSE) The Tampa Bay Lightning organization is modeling themselves after the Detroit Red Wings both on and off the ice. So, as Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman stated in reference to Thursday night’s game between the two teams, “This was going to be a measuring stick for our organization to see where we stand as a hockey club.”

Well, the Detroit Red Wings came into the St. Pete Times Forum and showed the Tampa Bay Lightning organization they still have some growing up to do – winning in comfortable fashion, 6-2. And the Lightning also learned a valuable lesson courtesy of the veteran Wings: Great hockey teams win games by doing the little things well.

“We have a long way to go to get to that level,” said Coach Guy Boucher after the game in assessing his team. “This is the best team we have faced all year. Period…End of story.”

Detroit was led by a consortium of their best players as Pavel Datsyuk had 2 goals, Dan Cleary a goal and two assists and goaltender Jimmy Howard 38 saves while surrendering just 2 goals. At no time did Howard ever appear to be rattled by the Bolts.

At the 14:38 mark of the second period, Tampa Bay started to claim some momentum, managing to tie the game on goals from Victor Hedman and Steve Downie. But just as things seemed to be going their way, a questionable penalty call on Vinnie Lecavalier for goaltender interference halted any momentum the Lightning had worked to build.

Detroit capitalized by scoring on the subsequent power play, as Niklas Kronwall sent the puck ricocheting off two Lightning defenders and into the net for a 3-2 lead which was never threatened.

In front of the capacity crowd of 20,849 fans in attendance – many clad in Detroit’s iconic “Hockey Town” sweaters – the Bolts continued to battle fiercely and not quit. Nonetheless, their efforts were not enough to challenge the Red Wings, who were clearly the better team this evening.

Boucher was quick to praise the Wings after the game as the “standard” for the NHL. But he also acknowledged that his Bolts are farther along than expected, despite the need to shore up some holes before the playoffs commence.

“We have a long ways to go to get to that (playoff-winning) level,” he stated candidly about his team’s play in the postgame wrap. “We have 2 months to get there.”

If (as I expect) Lightning GM Yzerman is going to use this performance against hockey royalty to determine how aggressive he will be at the trade deadline, then this game showed there are still a number of deficiencies which must be addressed if the Lightning wants to become an elite hockey team.

With things tightening up in the Southeast Division race for the Bolts, they will seek to get back on track this Saturday against the division-rival Florida Panthers. The puck drops at The St. Pete Times Forum at 7:30 PM.

For further details and insight on Lightning hockey as the trade deadline and postseason approaches, please tune in to the Rocket Sports & Entertainment show on Tampa Bay’s ESPN 1040 AM from 10 AM to noon this and every Saturday. Daily Lightning, Rays and USF coverage is also available online at rocketsports-ent.com.

Categories: Hockey

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