Friday, December 6, 2013

Lightning Defeat Senators

The Tampa Bay Lightning were able to beat the Ottawa Senators 3-1 in last night's game. It was a decent game for the Lightning, especially considering how many injuries the team is dealing with. Speaking of that, the team lost Hedman and Aulie to injury during the game. Aulie will be out for some time with a broken hand while Hedman is day to day. Lightning coach Cooper said Hedman likely won't be ready for Saturday's game.

St. Louis scored twice from nice passes by Palat, and Filppula finally got on the board again for the Lightning.

The story coming out of the game, other than St. Louis scoring twice, is the lengthening injury list. The team showed it has guts and heart, but let's not forget the opposing team wasn't exactly an elite team. Great effort from the Lightning, bit not something to get excited about just yet. We'll see what happens Saturday against the Jets.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tampa Bay Lightning Face the Columbus Blue Jackets

The Tampa Bay Lightning will be on the road Tuesday night to face the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets have struggled since being moved from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference for this season. The Blue Jackets are at the bottom of a top heavy Metropolitan Division and only won five out of sixteen games in the month of November. The team has been inconsistent as of late, leading them to a 4-4-2 record in their last ten games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had their own fair share of problems coming into the night as well. Two weeks ago, the Lightning went on a four game west coast road trip that saw the team go 0-3-1. The last three games for the Lightning were played at home. Tampa Bay managed to win two out of three games in the short home stand. Now the Lightning pay a visit to Columbus before heading back home for a couple games later in the week. The Lightning hold a record of 4-5-1 in their last ten games.

Obviously the loss of star-center Steven Stamkos has impacted the Lightning tremendously. While the Lightning have continued their home dominance, now holding a record of 10-3-0 at home, the team is just 6-6-1 away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. While the Lightning lost their last game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home, head coach Jon Cooper was not too upset with his team. According to Lightning beat reporter Missy Zielinski, Cooper said, "it was just a game where the puck was unable to make it in the net." Indeed, the Lightning looked to have done everything right that night against the Penguins, but they could not get past a focused Marc-Andre Fleury. The Lightning will look to bounce back from that game tonight against a struggling Columbus team.

The Blue Jackets lost on Saturday to the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-1. The Blue Jackets do not have any notable injured players, but the team is struggling to get any traction this season. The team holds a 5-7-1 record at home, which may be an advantage for the a Lightning team that has struggled in its last few road games. Defense may be the biggest issue for the Blue Jackets this season. The team has allowed 80 goals this season, ranking them in second most for goals-allowed in the Metropolitan Division. The only team in the division that has allowed more goals is the last place New York Islanders (93).

On paper, the teams come into this game evenly matched. Both teams have had their own fair share of struggles. While the Lightning are the stronger team overall, the Blue Jackets may be able to play up to par against them because of road struggles for Tampa Bay. While the Lightning should win this game, the Blue Jackets certainly have the ability to earn a surprise win tonight.

Stats from, and

Tampa Bay Lightning Game Preview by Missy Zielinski

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Monday, December 2, 2013

NHL Winter Classic: Not So Classic

The NHL has introduced a new 'Stadium Series' this season. This will involve the addition of four outdoor games held in stadiums (football or baseball venues). In 2008, the NHL introduced the Winter Classic. The Winter Classic consisted of a single game to be held every year (on or just after New Years' Day) at an outdoor venue. The purpose of adding a regular schedule of outdoor hockey games to the NHL schedule was to promote the sport while also bringing the players back to their childhood roots of outdoor hockey. However, I think the league has gone too far with the new Stadium Series.
The NHL Winter Classic was meant to be something special. It was the game every hockey fan waited for, and it came right at the end of the holiday season. That remains in place. This season, the Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Detroit Red Wings in the Winter Classic. However, there are also other games scheduled to take place outside. The Stadium Series will see four games, while the Canadian-exclusive Heritage Classic will also have a game on the schedule. The Heritage classic has only been played twice before. Not only that, but it is exclusive to Canadian teams, thus a treat for Canadian NHL fans. Essentially, the Heritage Classic is the Canadian equivalent of the Winter Classic. But the addition to of the NHL stadium series makes all outdoor games seem less "classic" and more regular.

I think the NHL has seen the outdoor games as money-makers for them. Every Winter Classic game has seen an audience of 35,000 or more. To put that in perspective, the average capacity of an NHL arena is around 17,000 (the Tampa Bay Times Forum capacity is 19,501). So there is obviously a lot of money to be had in these stadiums that can fit over 40,000 people. But fans I think will soon catch on. The hype of all of these outdoor games will soon dissappear. TV ratings will fall, attendance will drop, and the so-called special nature of these games will be gone. No NHL fan wants to see that happens, but it seems as though the league is pushing the situation in that direction.

IMAGE from Winter Classic 2014 logo (left) Heritage Classic 2014 logo (right) and the Stadium Series logo (bottom).

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Alabama Field Goals

Alabama's missed field goal in the fourth quarter of last night's game against the Auburn Tigers was the team's fourth miss of the game. In fact, Alabama did not make a field goal at all during the game. Of course, it was not just another missed field goal. It ended up being returned for 100 yards for a touchdown and an Auburn win in the most unlikeliest turn of events. For me though, I really question that last field goal attempt by Alabama.

Why was backup kicker Adam Griffith attempting the field goal in the fourth quarter instead of starter Cade Foster? Sure, Foster was 0-3 in field goals during the game, but he is the starter for a reason. I think a coach should definitely stick to his best players in order to provide the est chance to win a game. There are many accounts that say Griffith nails 50+ yard field goals during practice, but it's just that; it's only practice. A player can't be judged by what he's done during practice. Practice does not create an environment equal to a tie game with one second left in the fourth quarter against a rival team.

Adam Griffith has only take two field goal attempts this season, hitting one and missing the other. And to top it all off, Griffith is a freshman. It isn't fair to thrust a freshman player into a situation as big as this and expect him to nail a 50-plus yard field goal.  It isn't as though Cade Foster missed all three of his field goals either.

Sure, the stats read as zero field goals in three chances for Foster. But he technically only missed one, and that was after a made field goal was canceled by a false start penalty. The other two missed field goals were blocked, so if anyone should be subbed out it's the linemen attempting to protect their kicker. Why punish Foster for two blocked field goals? Why is Griffith taking that kick in the fourth quarter?

Griffith probably felt horrible after the game, and still might not be too happy with his attempted field goal today. However, Griffith is the last person to blame for the loss to Auburn. The linesmen lining up in front of both Griffith and Foster can be blamed quite heavily for Alabama's loss. A penalty added unnecessary pressure to Cade Foster, while lack of strength and coverage led to two blocks for Auburn's field goal defense. It would have been a shame if Griffith would have curled up in the fetal position right in the middle of the field as he felt the massive amount of pressure surrounding the situation in the fourth quarter.Thinking back on it a day later, Alabama may wish it would have happened that way instead.

IMAGE from ESPN: #43 Cade Foster hangs his head with quarterback A.J. McCarron looking on after a missed field goal during a game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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