The outcome of tonight’s game, which ended with the Montreal Canadians (36-23-7) beating the Tampa Bay Lighting (37-21-7) 4-2 at the St Pete Times Forum, is frankly secondary to the feeling in and around the Lightning right now.
When Coach Guy Boucher was asked after the game about his team’s effort to begin the game, he was “shocked” at the lack of effort and focus his team came out of the gates with tonight.
Martin St. Louis was asked the same question.
“We have to be honest each and everyone us about out effort for 60 minutes, it took a lot of us a while to get going and individually we have to bring out best from the get go, if we do we are better collectively,” he said.
These are surprising quotes coming from a team who is first in the division and third overall in the Eastern Conference but it suffered its third consecutive loss against teams that are fighting for their lives in the playoff hunt.
There is a feeling of a real sense of difficulty around this team right now. It has dealt with injuries all year and it has gone through points where it has played poorly, but right now they are failing to match the urgency and effort of the opponent on a night in and night out basis. This is not to say that this team is not playing hard or with a great deal of effort, but they are not matching the desperation of the team that is below them in the standings.
Boucher talked about not just his team feeling these effects, but it appeared that all the teams in the bottom part of the standings are playing harder than the teams at the top. Philadelphia ,for example, has also lost three in a row so it’s not just the Bolts who are feeling this pressure right now to finish the job.
Where does the team go from here, the team is still in front by one point over Washington for first in the Southeast division but as of the match up on Monday night they could be looking up at the Caps in the standings heading into that game.
Boucher has been listed a coach of the year favorite for the play of is team so far this year but he is going to earn his stripes the next couple of weeks, because if this team does not right the ship Monday then they could fall into a much deeper dive and find themselves in seventh or eighth position in the conference heading into the playoffs.
Boucher has called for his best players to be its best players heading down the stretch. The organization is going to get a real understanding of the type of team it has when the Washington Capitals skate on the ice on Monday, as potentially the team in first place in the division.