Following last night’s dismal showing against the New York Rangers, the media headed into the locker room to get the Lightning’s thoughts on the game. Pretty standard, really. What was out of character was that some of the team’s top players showed us what happens when people start getting real. Sun Sports showed interviews with both Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. Their words were a far cry from the programmed and sometimes cliche answers we’ve heard through the first 20 games of the season. Instead of canned responses, we got men who are clearly struggling to find an answer.
Allow head coach Guy Boucher to set the stage with his post game comments.
Ouch. The look on his face and the tone of his voice says pretty much all we need to know. Utter disappointment, and Guy wasn’t the only one. During Steven Stamkos’ time with the press, he dropped some serious bombs.
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times relayed Stammer and Hedman’s words:
“It’s getting to a point where it’s embarrassing,” Stamkos said. “We talk about work ethic, but it’s not there right now. Guys aren’t making plays. … There’s enough talking going on. We need action.”
“It’s embarrassing,” Hedman said. “They deserved to win. We didn’t deserve anything.”
Sun Sports has a compilation of some of the post game stuff, including some of Victor Hedman’s reactions. While it’s hard for fans to see their team struggling, these moments were a bit of a revelation. Instead of pretending everything is status quo, we got a glimpse of the climate of the locker room. They’re frustrated. They’re angry. That can’t sit well with athletes at their level.
So what happens next? Either the downward spiral continues or the team will show up in Boston with fire in their bellies. This hockey club has been playing its best in the 3rd period when the desperation of being down on the scoreboard kicks in. We’re 20 games into a 48 game season. If Tampa wants to crack the post season, they have to start winning. Now. If that doesn’t sum up the gravity of the situation, it’s tough to know what does.
The Bolts were able to harness that desperation and use it to their advantage in the 2011-12 season and it carried them within 1 game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Fiery, desperate teams are dangerous because they take chances. That’s exactly what the Lightning haven’t been doing.
In a perfect world, we’ll see a different team take the ice against the Bruins tomorrow. Crisper, tougher, and most definitely meaner. That’s entirely up to the guys on the bench, though. They have to hold each other accountable and be ready to go.