Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lightning storm back, take series

If you listened to my show last week you’d know I predicted the Tampa Bay Lightning would get rocked 4 games to 1.

Can you blame me? They were down 3-1 and lost an overtime heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 20th.

Dwayne Roloson gave up a sloppy game-winning goal in the second overtime to James Neal. A goal that Roloson himself appeared baffled.

Steven Stamkos was nowhere to be found and the only offense came from Martin St. Louis and a virtual unknown in Sean Bergenheim.

Roloson was the scapegoat and took the blame for the three losses, and he did so with class. But he was inconsistent and unreliable, and deserved part of the blame.

And I was supposed to say that all is well? That the Bolts had the Penguins right where they wanted them and that they were going to win three in a row to take the series?

Crow never tasted so good.

The Lighting showed the heart of champions and tremendous resolve, defeating the Penguins 1-0 Wednesday night and taking the series 4-3 to advance to the semifinals of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The “scapegoat” quickly turned into the G.O.A.T. after putting together three consecutive stellar starts, including a shutout in last night’s win.

Roloson was once seen as the reason Tampa wasn’t going to advance and he proved the naysayers wrong with his game seven performance.

The Penguins unleashed everything they had at Roloson, taking 36 shots – 13 more than the Bolts – and Roli was up to the task, stopping everything Pittsburgh shot at him.

The 41-year-old goaltender understands that this is his last hurrah. This is it for him. He needs to put it all on the line now while he has an offensive-minded team to back him up, and I believe Roli’s best playoff games are still ahead of him.

The Stanley Cup playoffs tend to expose the legends and the once unknown Bergenheim has become Tampa’s local hockey hero.

Dominic Moore skated behind the net towards the left side of Penguin goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury and passed the puck to Bergenheim, who was standing alone below the right circle and put the biscuit in the back of the net for Tampa’s lone goal.

The sequence was the exact same play the two unleashed in game six’s 4-2 win.

With Stamkos finally making his presence felt and Vinnie Lecavalier doing what Vinnie always does, Tampa’s scorers are dangerous. If Roloson continues his hot streak this team will continue to surprise in the playoffs.

Up next, Friday April 29th against hated rival Washington. The Lightning lost the season series 2 games to 4.

I’m not feeling the greatest about this series, but I’d love nothing more than another heap of crow.

No comments: