The simple truth; 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning playoffs post-mortem summary

They don’t call the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs the Second Season for nothing. Accomplishments during the NHL’s regular season be damned; everything starts at zero, every team starts on an even keel. Every team has a chance.

Game One and the first period of play, the Lightning did what was expected of them. The high flying ability of the 2018-19 President Trophy winning club was on display.

After the first intermission of Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, things changed. The next eight periods of play were rife with… what? I don’t know. It just didn’t come off like the gameplay that so many bore witness to from the club during the regular season. Chippiness, penalties, scrums, and fights. One might put the spotlight on the Columbus Blue Jackets for that as if they were the antagonists… No, no… It was an NHL game and the team that was antagonizing most heavily was the Lightning. Penalizations ensued. Opportunities rained down on the Jackets by way of it.

Eight periods of play – the bulk of Game One, Game Two and THree in full… the damage was done and Columbus capitalized on it with sound play, leading to their own imposing play and victories. Excuses could be made — primarily that chief defenseman Victor Hedman was playing while injured and was sidelined with Anton Stralman for Game Four — but that’s just it, an excuse. That’s not to say Hedman being hurt didn’t cause issues, it’s that what was going on in Lightning team play wasn’t defensive lapses. It was overall team play and perhaps game-plan lapses

The titans of contention during the 2018-19 regular season turned into the also-ran roster of the 2019 Second Season. That’s it. That’s the way to look at it.

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Disappointed by Lightning play and fan reaction

I’m going to go with a simple take going into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:

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Morning Song by Babe Rainbow (music and lyrics)

By the Australian Alternative/Indie group Babe Rainbow, “Morning Song” was released last week and I crossed it by chance… It’s had me hooked with its mellow sound since. Have a listen via the official music video and read the lyrics below:

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Another Lightning record: Drawing viewers to their historic regular-season performance

Another Tampa Bay Lightning broken record for the 2018-19 NHL season. The only difference with this one, it was a feat fans helped them achive: It was the most popular season of Lightning hockey in Fox Sports Sun broadcast history. (Damn shame local news coverage by Tampa Bay media didn’t reflect the popularity during the regular season… just sayin’…)

I’ll let the official press release from Fox Sports do the talking. Read below:

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The Great Outdoors and the first Eastern Conference Quarterfinals watch party for Lightning fans

It’s the time of the season for fans to congregate together and watch Tampa Bay Lightning hockey during the 2019 NHL Playoffs. Seeing everyone can’t make it to the Amalie for games (or venues of opposing teams — in this instance, Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio), watch parties by the Lightning are a nice way to do it.

It was announced Monday that hockey fans in Tampa Bay can hit up an official watch party at Curtis Hixon Park for Wednesday’s Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It won’t just be hockey watching in Curtis Hixon on Wednesday as the rock group Cage the Elephant is also supposed to perform.

Details from the Bolts press release are as follows:

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The gamble and the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

Once in a while, I get contacted with hockey-related stuff that reminds me I actually established myself in coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning while blogging on Boltsmag/Raw Charge. In this instince, the question led me to want to post a reminder for NHL fans out there. No, it’s not a crowing (which would be expected from a fan of a team that just tied the NHL’s record for wins in a season). It’s something I’ve written in past blog posts when the playoffs commence.

Here’s the question and what follows is my response:

I hope you are doing well.  Who would you take if you were forced to place a bet about the upcoming NHL playoffs;  Tampa Bay or the rest of the field?  I thank you again for your time.

— C.R.
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Call him “Roy”; Jeremy Sande’s pitch to play John McClane in the 6th Die Hard film, “McClane”

In October 2017 I wrote an immediate reaction to the bare-bone synopsis of the next Die Hard film. It’s not that I’m not a fan of Die Hard or Bruce Willis/John McClane, it’s more about the fact that I’ve seen the franchise move away from the wrong-place-wrong-time, fixed location presentation. By way of it, the franchise was getting away from John McClane and what made the character a draw in the original film and early sequels.

Here it is, a year and a half later and I’ve been wondering casually what the deal is with the film tentatively titled (at the time of my original write-up) Die Hard: Year One. The bare-bones synopsis that came out with the news of the sixth film said that the movie would be a prequel/sequel hybrid that Willis would be involved in. Yet casting news, filming news, it all slipped by without actually being news… or so I thought because I haven’t heard or seen shit.

In some ways, it’s understandable that the movie hasn’t moved forward – those “some ways” being the merger of 21st Century Fox (20th Century Fox) and Disney. Unlike when Walt Disney Pictures took control of the Star Wars franchise, there’s a hell of a lot more to organize and oversee with the acquisition of the entire 21st Century Fox motion picture studio (and more holdings of various sorts). Moving forward quickly with the Die Hard movie (that’s to be helmed by Len Wiseman and titled McClane) may have been slowed by the sale logistics or other various things, I wouldn’t know for sure.

I was updated a touch by a surprise email a few days ago. This blog isn’t one that tends to get PR email or press contacts (whereas my days writing for Raw Charge has added me to alot of hockey-related and Tampa Bay-area PR stuff). The contact wasn’t from Fox, not Disney, or a third-party agency or talent firm, but from a would-be Officer John McClane.

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Another benchmark change is looming for the Lightning in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

As it stands, with the 2018-19 regular season still in play, Tampa Bay Lightning history has a total of five players who have played with the club in five Stanley Cup Playoffs: Pavel Kubina, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman. All five players were around for the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

History is about to change, obviously…

The forthcoming 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be Stamkos and Hedman’s sixth time, setting the new franchise paramount in their tenth and ninth NHL seasons respectively. It just seems fitting that this new “record” is being set in a season with so much record-breaking by the Bolts.

Kubby, Vinny, and Marty won’t e alone in the five-season playoff appearance category; they just didn’t play with the guys who will be joining them in the ranks. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, and Nikita Kucherov have been in all of the playoff seasons helmed by current head coach Jon Cooper (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018). It’s also worth mentioning that Johnson, Palat and Killorn were also part of  Cooper’s 2011-12 Norfolk Admirals team that won the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup. Also worth noting is Kucherov’s struggles of 2013-14 (communications) limited his ice time during the Bolts Eastern Conference Quarterfinal failure; he only played in two of the five games of The series.

Of all the aforementioned Lightning players, it’s just Kubina, Lecavalier, and St. Louis who have their names etched on the Stanley Cup. We’ll see if the results from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff’s changes that.

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Songs in the queue for Spotify Playlist review

I’m approaching a year as a Spotify playlist curator, having started the Underexposed Soft Rock and Easy Listening playlist in May of 2018. While the playlist has amassed 107 followers in the time it’s been active, I don’t know how many of those “followers” actually listen. I’ve already talked about that downside of Spotify though, so I’ll move on.

The Underexposed playlist is at 137 songs, it’ll keep growing as time goes by, as will the Softer Side of Indie 2019 playlist as I cross songs that fit the angle I’m going for with that list.

How do I find the songs, though? While I’ve crossed some posted on Reddit’s Indie music community (which have tended to fit the Softer Side 2019 playlist most often), the majority of the songs I’ve posted on the Underexposed playlist have come from my listening to Lonely Oak Radio and other indie stations (Only Rock Radio, Catorweb, and Indie Star Radio primarily). When I cross a song that might fit the bill of the playlist, I put the name of the song and the artist into a txt file queue of songs to potentially add after review.

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For those on Reddit and who enjoy the Adult Contemporary class of music, join me on /r/AdultContemporary

Soft rock, easy listening, and love songs…nothing but love songs. This is a seven year old subreddit that has long been mothballed. I’m trying to get it going.

Simply click on the title for a redirect to the subreddit.

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Lightning’s success generates all too much silence in the Tampa Bay sports media

There’s a outspoken and upset Florida Panthers fan who voiced their discontent with the Panthers organization in a post on Reddit’s hockey community. A mix of words invoked nostalgia and made me upset in my own fashion.

[…] At the start, things looked great. The team had great players in Scott Mellanby and John Vanbiesbrouck, took a Cinderella trip to the Finals which got all of Miami absolutely BUZZING in 1996, started a notable fan tradition of throwing rats, acquired a superstar in Pavel Bure, acquired future superstars Olli Jokinen and Roberto Luongo, had very great and notable players pass through here… […]

Ah, 1996! Yes, the Florida Panthers looked upright and had a future optimism shown in only their third season of play in the National Hockey Lague. But ’96 didn’t show a dim picture on the other coast of Florida. No, no, the 1995-96 Tampa Bay Lightning did something foreign in the Tampa Bay metroplex in the sporting sense of the term: They were a pro team that made the playoffs. It was the first time in 13 years that a top-level professional franchise in the Bay area had done that [author note: this isn’t an attempt to truly look pat the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team; soccer is not traditionally pitched as a top-four major sports league in the United States.] It was also the Lightning’s first-ever playoff appearance.

There was a sense of optimism and hope invoked in the local press coverage from WTVT, WFLA, WTSP, and WFTS. The St. Peterburg Times and Tampa Tribune did it too: The Tampa Bay Lightning was the sports team in Tampa Bay, and they were the entity to rally around. Brian Bradley, Mikael Andersson, Petr Klima, Paul Ysebaert;  with the future (or so it seemed at the time) franchise ties to Roman Hamrlik, Chris Gratton, Jason Weimer, and Rob Zamuer. All these (and so many more names that I’ve forgotten off the top of my head) and the last line of defense, the stalwart in goal #93 Darren Puppa.

The playoffs! Such a rare feat in this burg was being embraced by a local team and that generated a degree of local pride for sports fans. It was something accomplished by Tampa Bay and invoked such a good vibe, even if the Bolts were a one-and-done team in the 1996 NHL Playoffs  (the Philadelphia Flyers bounced the Bolts in the first round). Contention was such a foreign term and it was finally translated! Yessir! Yessir!

It seems foreign now, doesn’t it? No, I don’t mean contention. I’ve already written about that for the Bolts before this season. The Lightning themselves have proven it, night in and night out, through 76 games and the feats achieved.

I’m talking about coverage and the lack thereof from the traditional media people in town. There is no buzz. It’s not a priority. It’s filler.

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Questions and would-be stories for Truman Burbank’s Life After Seahaven

When you’re sold on a movie or a movie character, it’s not foreign to think about things in the film and come up with angles of the story that flesh out entirely different story=ies that could drive a movie. For example, the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away has a story unto itself that isn’t shown in the film: What happened to Chuck Noland (Hanks) as he gets rescued from the South Pacific? It’s not a 1-2-3 thing but a process and a tale on its own. It wouldn’t be the movie by itself but there are various acts and deeds that he had to undertake that would have been interesting to see.

I was thinking about that Cast Away stuff which turned me to the ending of another film, a film that had more to show because the ending was a gateway to a new adventure for the main character who was followed along closely for the entire film. This picture wasn’t a direct adventure but more a character piece, so an immediate sequel wouldn’t have been fitting.

At this point, more than twenty years after Truman Burbank bid the set of Seahaven “good afternoon, good evening and good night”  and entered reality, there are stories that could be told and shown in a framing that compliments what was The Truman Show, or at least some of the elements as they were presented in the 1998 movie.

Peter Weir’s film was a play on reality television, with a single life filmed and the world around him manipulated to give Truman Burbank (played by Jim Carrey in a role that defied the over-the-top comedy he was known for) regular story and drama to entertain the viewers of his television channel And Truman didn’t know about this – being filmed, the man-made control over his life.

As Truman was taken care of by those in control, he was a prisoner, prevented from exploring and knowing the world. His world was the set of Seahaven in Burbank, California. The events of The Truman Show touch on his life, the actors/actresses and off-screen aspects and la-de-da, building up to the movie’s finale, Truman’s escaping the set.

The escape itself, passing through a door into the darkness of backstage, opens up a new world of events for Truman. It opens up a story to tell in reflection. So, consider this a pitch called “Life After Seahaven”.

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The NHL on NBC and NBC Sports Net needs broader appeal

The following tweet sets the standard for this blog post. It was posted during a telecast by NBC Sports Net and with thanks to me hearing the all-too-common complaints aimed at the network for their coverage of a National Hockey League game.


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Record-breaking vies against playoff contention in the Lightning’s remaining schedule

Author’s Note: I go the wins-in-an-NHL-season record wrong in this piece. The record is 62 wins by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wins. Research quick results were not clear on the record. The Lightning could tie that mark. To break it would be on grand sports record fe.

16 games remain in the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning regular season and hoo-boy, have those first 66 delivered. 50 wins in 66 games tie the NHL record for the feat.

While a contingent of fans might lock this performance into what the club will do in the playoffs, I warn you not to. That’s the Second Season. Everything starts over for every club involved in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and there have been incidents in the history of the NHL and professional sports in general where a paramount club is taken down with shocking ease by a lower ranking challenger.

Getting ahead of ourselves is not the point of this write-up, the point is actually the Bolts potentially threatening, reaching, and breaking said league record.

60 wins isn’t impossible, but it’s tough… or should be.

To take 50 wins from 66 games played gives the Bolts a mite over a .750 winning percentage. If you apply that simply to the number of games ahead, that’s 12 potential wins. A 62 win season shatters the NHL record and is… just math done by me.  You have to play the games and that’s what causes a win or a loss. Not ratio logic and blah-blah-blah by analysts, columnists or bloggers.

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The storm continues with Tampa Bay Lightning hockey

Ten days ago I wrote my shocked and impressed piece about where the Tampa Bay Lightning stand in mid-February: 92 points in 59 games played.

Ten days later, five more games in the books and the Bolts took every flippin’ one of them. 102 points in 64 games played. There’s more worth noting in that in franchise achievement:

  • 49 wins are one shy of the team record of 50, achieved in 2014-15
  • 252 goals-for on the season is four more than the Stanley Cup Champion 2003-04 Lightning team and 10 shy of the 2014-15 team.
  • The point-percentage of the club is now a startling .797
  • The simplified win-percentage is .766
  • The club has gone 12-0-2 in February with one game left to be played
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