I caught my first regular season game this year in Tampa Saturday, albeit I switched to my hometown allegiance for the night rooting for my Caps.
It was futile as Washington lost, but I didn’t grow frustrated at the Caps despite their losing skid as much as I’ve become more impressed with this Lighting squad.
Watching pre-season, scrimmages and games on TV this year only tells so much. The takeaway came during a first period power play when Kucherov, Palat and I believe Namestnikov were regrouping for the breakout. They each hit their mark right on the hashmarks skating back, turning in sync to the left to head back up ice. You script these regroups and breakouts on a board and they never go as plan. Try to draw it up in NHL 15 and it doesn’t look as good.
Sitting three rows from the glass, the behind-the-net fadeaway pass to Kucherov was just as heart melting. If this was any other night rooting for the Bolts I would have gone out of my mind. That is a difficult move to actually pull off and for the goalie to bite on the move. Braden Holtby went with the option that Johnson would walk around and pass from the strong side or jam the puck in.
Hotlby had a goalie blind spot playing the angle like he did, but the other option would be to try to see from the far post, then leaving the near side open for Johnson to tap in. None of the Caps had Kucherov covered. Not even a stick was nearby to knock it away.
At 8-3-1 and playing what seems to be a man down every night, the Lightning are on a special run now. The Caps are in an early season spiral that I know will turn around.
The Bolts might see a four-game losing streak sometime this season, but I don’t see them losing too many consecutive games nor being inconsistent where stretches will go win-loss-win-loss-shootout loss, win, OT loss type of scenario.
Enjoy the great play as long as it continues.