Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Vasilevskiy Saves the Day vs. Stars
It wasn’t nearly as one-sided as the result last time out, but the Tampa Bay Lightning still managed to end up on the right side of the win column tonight against the Dallas Stars. This time, led by another wonderful performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Bolts plodded their way to a 2-0 victory. Here are tonight’s thumbs:
Thumbs Down: The Entertainment Value
This was not a particularly exciting game to watch. The Stars did a much better job of clogging the defensive and neutral zones - preventing the Tampa skaters from really kicking things into high gear - which in turn resulted in lower-than-normal shot and chance totals for the Lightning. I feel bad for the people who have put up with COVID-19 for a year and decided to purchase a ticket to this game as their first larger-scale public outing.
Thumbs Up: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s Goaltending
We’re getting to a point now where it’s probably fair to call Andrei Vasilevskiy the leader in this year’s Vezina race. He was once again spectacular tonight, making both routine and high-danger stops look easy. His stop on an undefended Andrew Cogliano right in front of the net was particularly memorable, and served as an early indication of the kind of evening it would turn out to be for the big Russian goaltender.
Thumbs Down: The Best Players were the Worst Players
Outside Palat’s goal, the Lightning’s best players were among their worst players tonight. It was a rare rough outing for names like Steven Stamkos, Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev, and Ryan McDonagh, among others
Thumbs Up: Finding a Way to Win
As alluded to above, it’s probably fair to say that the Bolts didn’t deserve to win this game. As boring as their style is to watch, the Stars were the technically better team tonight. Good teams find a way to win, though, and that’s exactly what Tampa Bay did. They now sit tied for first in the Central Division standings.
Thumbs Up: Ondrej Palat, Offensive Threat
When news of Nikita Kucherov’s long-term injury broke, there was some question about who the Lightning would/could use to replace him on the man-advantage unit. If tonight’s goal is any indication, Ondrej Palat is the perfect player for that spot. His ninth goal of the season was a mirror image of a typical Steven Stamkos bomb from the circle. If opposition penalty-killing units have to worry about Stamkos on one end and Palat on the other, defending becomes an almost impossible task.
Thumbs Down: Alex Killorn’s Empty Net Woes
We can laugh about it now, but Alex Killorn’s biggest enemy tonight was Dallas’ empty net at the end of the game. He somehow missed a wide open, unobstructed opportunity, and followed it up by having another shot blocked by a Dallas skater. Killorn is lucky that his teammates were able to prevent the Stars from generating much of anything after that; he would have owed the guys a steak dinner or two had the Stars tied the game.
The Lightning will take to the ice against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
As always, thanks for reading.