Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Hedman Plays Overtime Hero vs. Blue Jackets
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 4-3 in overtime on Sunday night, thanks to a quick-strike attack in the bonus period. While the underlying numbers and shot clock all paint a picture of a well-deserved win for Tampa Bay, there was more to the story in this game. Here are Sunday’s thumbs:
Thumbs Up: Victor Hedman Ends it Quickly
I’m tired of seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets. You’re tired of seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets. And, it turns out that Victor Hedman is tired of seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets as well. With his team searching for a victory, Hedman scored the overtime winner just 10 seconds into the extra frame to seal the deal.
With this being the last regular season matchup between these two teams, and with Columbus sitting right at the bottom of the Central Division standings, this will hopefully be the last one of these games we have to watch for a number of months. They’re just painful.
Thumbs Down: Lackadaisical Defensive Play
Again, the shot clock and underlying numbers paint a picture of complete and total Lightning domination. However, there were a number of occasions in this game when the Bolts just looked completely disinterested in seeing plays through. There continues to be questions about this team’s engagement level right now, with a growing number of fans articulating at least some measure of concern about whether they’ll be able to “turn it on” come playoff time.
Anyone who has watched the Carolina Hurricanes or Florida Panthers recently has seen the kind of speed that those two teams are bringing to the table these days. When they’re at their best, the Lightning can match or exceed that. When they’re not, though, the difference is really noticeable. The first-round could be very interesting for the defending champs.
Thumbs Up: Alex Barre-Boulet Gets His First
It’s still difficult for me to say with any degree of certainty whether Alex Barre-Boulet has a long-term future with the Lightning in the National Hockey League, but I do know he was very deserving of his first career goal tonight. Despite either generating or helping to generate numerous high-quality scoring chances in previous games, Barre-Boulet had failed to find the scoresheet. That changed tonight in a big way.
His 3-3 game-tying goal, scored on the power play, was a thing of beauty. He took a slick cross-ice pass from Ondrej Palat, and wired a one-timer from the Stamkos circle. He won’t have to lie to the grandkids about that one.
Beyond the power play goal, I though Barre-Boulet was really effective for Tampa Bay tonight. He seemed to be buzzing every time he was on the ice, an eye-test evaluation supported by stellar underlying numbers.
Thumbs Down: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s Goaltending
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the best goaltender in the world.*
*when he’s not playing the Columbus Blue Jackets
Thumbs Up: Ondrej Palat’s Monster Night
With three points on the night, Ondrej Palat now has tallied 42 points in 48 games this season. Those 42 point surpass the total he notched last season in 69 games, and represent his highest total since the 2016-17 campaign. Anyone who thought that his resurgence in the postseason last year was a mirage has been proven wrong by his consistently solid play this year. With Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos out of the lineup, he has really stepped up.
Thumbs Up: Mathieu Joseph’s Speed
If you’re still not sold on the idea that speed and skill up and down the lineup, including on the fourth line, is key to being successful in the NHL today, look no further than Mathieu Joseph’s 12th of the season as all the evidence you need. A quick transition by Brayden Point allowed Joseph to jet up the ice and put himself in a position to score.
The Lightning will see the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
As always, thanks for reading.