Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Lightning Take Afternoon Nap vs. Blue Jackets
The Tampa Bay Lightning laid an egg early on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 5-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The loss, Tampa’s first of the season, moves the team’s record to 3-1-0. Here are today’s thumbs:
Thumbs Down: Preparing to Play in the Afternoon
The best way to describe what I saw out of the Lightning today is a lack of preparedness. They looked sloppy. Give the Blue Jackets credit for pressing the issue, but this wasn’t a Bolts team operating at its best. Passes skipped over sticks. Players arrived at pucks a half-second late. Carelessness was the name of the game. Maybe the Lightning are more of a “night game” team.
Thumbs Down: Erik Cernak’s Injury
It was a rough afternoon for Erik Cernak, who was the recipient of both a bad hit and an unfortunate fall before leaving the game with injury. The loss was a significant one for the Lightning, as they really lack depth on the right side of the defense even when fully healthy. While the extent of Cernak’s injury is unknown at this time, the hope obviously is that he won’t have to miss much, if any, time.
Thumbs Down: Officiating Nick Foligno
The aforementioned hit on Cernak looks like a fairly clear case of Boarding to me:
Based on everything I’ve seen in the last two playoff years and the start to this season, few players stick out as getting away with more than Nick Foligno. Playing on the edge works if you rarely get called for it.
(Before I’m accused of this: No, officiating wasn’t the reason the Lightning lost this game. At all.)
Thumbs Down: Alex Volkov Replacing Blake Coleman
Blake Coleman was late for a team meeting, so was scratched as a coach’s decision. Alex Volkov stepped into the lineup as his replacement, and really didn’t do much. He and his fourth line colleagues were outskated by the Blue Jackets on almost every shift, and Volkov often took himself out of the play by going after a late “bump” along the boards. It’s still very early in his career, but Volkov hasn’t really shown that he can be an everyday NHL player. Nothing today pushed that needle any further in the right direction.
Coleman is a key cog on one of the best non-superstar lines in hockey. The Bolts need him to be on time so this swap doesn’t happen again.
Thumbs Down: Mikhail Sergachev’s Relaxed Demeanour
Mikhail Sergachev is usually a cool cat on the Lightning blue line, which lets him do some pretty spectacular things while making them look easy. Sometimes, though, that nonchalant attitude can get him in trouble. It did today.
Thumbs Up: Ondrej Palat’s Goal
Even on days when this team looks like it’s completely lost at sea, the talent level in the lineup can still manage to shine through. A great example of that was Ondrej Palat’s third goal of the season, which came off a million-dollar pass from Brayden Point on the power play. That was about it in the ‘good’ department today.
Burn the tape. The Lightning are scheduled to be back in action next week against the Carolina Hurricanes, though those games may be postponed on account of COVID complications.
As always, thanks for reading.