The Lightning have clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it's almost a lock that they will take on the Montreal Canadiens.
The Lightning beat Montreal 3-1 Tuesday night. Ryan Callahan racked up another goal -- that's his 6th goal for the team since being traded. (By the way, Martin St. Louis doesn't have a goal yet.)
I'll tell you what, Montreal and the Lightning have battled all year, and while the Lightning now have a grip on second place and home ice advantage, that can still change down the stretch as both teams wrap up the season.
The story in this game, as it has been all season, is goaltending. The Lightning's Ben Bishop was solid again and Montreal's Carey Price, simply kept the Canadiens in the game.
If there is a soft spot in the Lightning, it is their slow reaction time to step up and protect teammates from hits and cheap shots, especially goalie Ben Bishop. I think he's been tagged by hits too many times this season and the Lightning players haven't had a habit of stepping up with an answer for that.
Same thing in this game: Douglas Murray just racks the Lightning's Mike Kostka. It looked as if Kostka was momentarily knocked out cold and the only player to step was the rookie Tyler Johnson -- who was at least showing his teammates what needs to be done.
Obviously the kind of shots that Murray delivered and the necessary retaliation that Johnson delivered will be severely cutback when the playoffs crank up -- no one wants to be in a penalty box watching his team give up a goal.
But still, the Lightning (as a team) have been slow to protect this season -- I'd like to see that change down the stretch.
Lightning playoff tickets go on sale this Friday at at 10 a.m.
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