AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : LIGHTNING : FEBRUARY 13
By Leo Haggerty
I’ve been waiting all year to use the term to describe the Lightning’s tandem goalie combination of Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Also, I truly promise I will never use it again. Hey, I could have used VASILESHOP so stop whining.
The Lightning began their four-game road trip sandwiched around the National Hockey League’s newly instituted individual team bye week. The Bolts traveled to the Twin Cities to take on the Wild in their first game of a back-to-back pair and then head north of the border to Winnipeg for a contest with the Jets.
Tampa Bay received two outstanding performances in net in these games. The first was against the best team in the Western Conference in the Wild where the Lightning earned a much deserved point in a 2-1 Shootout loss. In this one, both goalies were superb but #88 in white was brilliant. Vasilevskiy stopped 37 shots, with at least five deserving of the highlight reel, and two of three in the Shootout. He deserved a better fate but Wild net minder Devan Dubnyk only allowed one goal in regulation and stopped all three Shootout attempts by the Bolts. All in all, a great effort that was deserving of a point.
Not to be outdone, #30 put up a stellar performance between the pipes as well in a 4-1 Lightning win. Bishop stopped 32 shots and was the recipient of two first period goals by the Bolts. The first one by rookie Brayden Point (7th) one a nifty pass from Jonathan Drouin. The second goal was on a Brian Boyle (13) deflection of a Victor Hedmon shot from the point. That was all the big guy in net would need to extend the Tampa Bay points streak to 4 games (3-0-1).
Now, the Bolts are off until this Saturday. They head to Big D for a date with the Stars then a quick flight to Denver for a Sunday night date against the Avalanche.
I still say the big key for this team to get to the post season is getting all their big guns back. Now, we have to add C Tyler Johnson to the MASH unit that already contains the names of C Steven Stamkos and W Ryan Callahan.
The faster these three can get back on the ice the better the chance of the Lightning going to the playoffs but it better be soon. You can’t ask the rest of these guys to pick up the slack every night. Mind you, they’re trying but that finger in the dike will only last for so long.