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Three Quick Goals Spell Doom for Bolts

October 20, 2019, 7:10 PM ET [2 Comments]
Sam Hitchcock
Tampa Bay Lightning Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Just like that, in the span of two minutes and 49 seconds, the Lightning allowed three straight goals before the first TV timeout of the second period. Rapid-fire miscues sunk the Bolts’ chances by giving the Colorado Avalanche a nearly insurmountable lead. In the pecking order of things Tampa Bay needs to improve, puck management, transition defense, and gap control may not rank ahead of discipline or even forechecking. But they are areas of concern, and a team with Colorado’s speed and talent can exploit errors by the Lightning. It is worth examining these three Colorado strikes to identify where things went astray and what it reveals about the Lightning’s vulnerabilities.

On the second Tyson Jost goal, the sequence begins after the Brayden Point line failed to retrieve the shot attempt from Ryan McDonagh in the offensive zone.



Avalanche forward Colin Wilson won the race to the puck along the boards and chucked it toward J.T. Compher, who was flying the zone. McDonagh was back on defense, and while Compher had help en route with Jost racing up the left-wing lane, two Bolts’ skaters were tracking Jost.

McDonagh should have felt emboldened to step up and confront Compher and hopefully stymie the entry. Instead he retreated, giving Compher a large cushion and allowing him to buy time until Jost neared the top of the left circle and Compher tossed him a pretty pass. The first problem was surrendering the offensive zone to Compher and allowing him time to wait for support.

The second problem for the Lightning was the weak-side coverage in transition. If you watch the clip closely, at the three second mark Sergachev has a stride on Jost, but he stops skating when he recognizes that Stamkos has the inside track to intercept a pass from Compher to Jost. The only problem is, if Stamkos misses that pass from Compher to Jost, bad things can happen. For instance, Jost then has a clear shot opportunity from below the circles, which is exactly what does happen. For Sergachev, having help in transition defense should not cause him to stop skating.

The Gabriel Landeskog goal and third Jost goal, which came in quick succession, were a failure in puck management. Cirelli tried to carry the puck out of the zone and had his pocket picked by Landeskog. After that, the Lightning never got another opportunity to clear the puck from the zone.

On the Jost goal that made the score 4-1, Kevin Shattenkirk made a pass to his partner McDonagh, who tried to tip it to Stamkos for the offensive-zone entry. But that entry was denied as Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson was there to block the entry and Compher was there to chip the unclaimed puck past McDonagh.



This led to a counterattack where both McDonagh and Point were slow to recover, putting Andrei Vasilevskiy in the impossible position of defending what was, in essence, a condensed 2-0. Once Compher moved the puck across the low slot to Jost, Vasilevskiy didn’t have a chance.

The Avalanche play at a tempo that mirrors the Lightning’s. They want to push the pace and use their speed and rush game to create plays in space. True, Tampa Bay cannot play a freewheeling style against a buttoned-up, well-structured team like Carolina—but they also can be shredded by teams whose M.O. resembles their own. Saturday’s contest underscored that lesson. Aspects of the game, like transition defense and tight gaps, which go hand-in-glove, need to be present in every game. The same is true with puck management.

Without looking at the final score and just reviewing the 5v5 stats, it would seem like the Lightning had a dominant game. They owned the first period, generating twice as many shot attempts as Colorado. And in the third period, they recorded 12 Scoring Chances, which is just one shy of tying their season best. (Against Ottawa they manufactured 13 Scoring Chances in the first period.) Heck, they nearly doubled their shot total with 46 shots on goal to the Avs’ 24. But the game was squandered in three minutes that rendered the other 57 irrelevant.

The Lightning need to find consistency, and after a good first period they lost focus. With the Lightning struggling to string together consecutive periods of strong play, how they respond against Pittsburgh on Wednesday Night Hockey will be telling.
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