The Lightning are tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference. No, I’m not hallucinating. This isn’t what I planned on talking about in my next entry at all. I had even started writing an update about how Sidney Crosby is bad for the NHL. My venom for him might have to be reserved for closer to this year’s Winter Classic. Don’t worry, Crosby lovers. Ovechkin doesn’t get off scot-free either.
The build up to last night’s game was pretty epic for such an early season match up. The media lens was focused in on the Bolts with the Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town. Pittsburgh ’s Sidney Crosby and Tampa ’s tied for the league’s goal scoring title and shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy for that feat at this year’s NHL awards. Everyone was buzzing about the match up, asking if this would be the year that Stamkos became one of the league’s elite players. I think he is already, but my bias is showing since I get to see him play 7 months a year. The game was also being billed as the first real test for the Lightning and their coach. Guy Boucher has pioneered a brand new style this season and is definitely being viewed with curiosity. He is the youngest head coach in the league, has not coached at this level before, and is doing something no one else is doing. The Penguins have been to the Stanley Cup finals twice in the last three years. Playing them is definitely a good benchmark of where your team is between the penthouse and the basement so to speak. This win is huge.
The West Coast road trip over the next week will be a big test. The Western teams always play a very hard hitting, physical style. One of my biggest worries going into this season is the lack of a physical presence on the bench. Other than Steve Downie, who is willing to drop the gloves? It might not be part of the new system, but it is definitely something other teams will take advantage of. I am interested to see who steps up.
Also? Marty St. Louis is still a bad ass. At the end of the game, he carried the team to victory on his small but muscular shoulders. I know this might upset some people but... he should be the one with the C on his sweater.