Sunday, March 13, 2016

Making Greg Louganis Proud

Tonight, Tampa Bay Lightening goal tender Ben Bishop took over a game between the Blue Jackets and the Bolts, combining a physical game with a wimpy, diver game to discombobulate the Blue Jackets and leave them in the dust by the end of the game.  While it is true that the NHL should have a quiet talk with Bishop about his diving, which drew two crucial penalties against the Jackets, it is also true that Bishop had nothing to do with the two short handed goals that the Bolts scored against the hapless Blue Jackets power play.  And the dude pitched a shut out.  Which has little to do with Ben Bishop's prowess, and a lot to do with the team in front of him.  The bottom line is that the Jackets failed to generate significant pressure around the crease, so Bishop was left to fielding lazy pop flies launched from significant distance.  Props to the Bolts D-Corps, they simply denied the net to the Jackets.  And that was the game, not Ben Bishop's theatrics.  

So if you wondered if Tortorella was going to retain the assistant coaches he inherited from Todd Richards, I'm guessing he is going to want to go with his people.  The power play is in a death spiral, and has given up more goals in the last few games than it has scored.  In addition, they are trending in the wrong direction.

Let me assure you, that this is not the first time I have wanted to yell 'decline the penalty' from the upper bowl, and it likely won't be the last. I have seen some futile CBJ power plays in my time, and this one ranks with the most futile.  These things tend to be cyclic and an undo amount of panic over these results is not appropriate.  However, 3 short handed goals in 3 games (if my math is correct) is a problem.  Your power play is supposed to giveth, not taketh away.

Tonight we saw a team that went to the Cup finals last year, playing against a team that is not ready for that task.  This is part of the journey that our players are on, if developing a team that can contend for the Cup, and tonight's game was illustrative of how far we have to go to get there.  Tampa Bay won battles all over the ice for the majority of the game, reduced the CBJ to launching shots from the top of the circle because that's all that was there, and ultimately made them press so hard that they gave up goals that they have no business giving up.  So props to the Bolts.

At the end of the day, the worst thing the Jackets could have done is win this game, as it has definite implications on our draft future.  Our team is not as bad as it looked tonight, but there is real room for improvement.  But for the most of the game this was pretty compelling entertainment, and Bishop's antics kept the crowd engaged until Tampa's defensive performance caused the Jackets to come unglued.  The difference between a veteran play off team, and a team still finding itself.

So a tough one for the fans and the team to choke down, but so it goes.  Stamkos took this game over, and the Bolts take home tonight's prize.  Rally, and get ready for Thursday's game against the Red Wings.  They will be happy after our last game against them, I'm sure.  Conflicted feelings about winning and losing is not good this time of year, but its the reality of some NHL fan groups every year.  There is no free pass.


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