I’m going to go with a simple take going into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
The Lightning isn’t playing right and I don’t mean by the team not scoring and winning. They’re playing a little dishelved and reckless and coming off like something that isn’t Tampa Bay Lightning hockey.
Neither are the fans. I’ve been fearing this sentiment all season when things go wrong.
Expectations for the Lightning are stratospheric, adding pressure on the club to achieve… And when fans – I’m not talking bandwagon fans, I’m not talking general NHL fans, I’m talking people I know and have social connections with; long-time devote Lightning fans – condemn the team for losing a game, let alone failing as they did in Game Two? It makes things worse (for other fans and for those tied to Lightning hockey), it also shows a spoiled sentiment.
Maybe this happens in all sports markets, I don’t know as I’ve spent most of my life in Florida and didn’t experience this in my childhood in New York. It feels like something I’ve dealt with while watching the college football ranks here — University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami – where the only option was to win or earn scorn from a segment of the fanbase. It just rings poorly. A loss hurts. Losing is dissatisfying and upsetting. Marking the entire series as lost after losing Game One, though?
If the Bolts were where the Columbus Blue Jackets are – 8th
seed in the Eastern Conference – and dropped the first two games of the playoffs,
the loyalists would still be with the club and holding out hope while those who
I’m talking about would likely not be involved or would spout their disdain and
then move on to other things.
Yet when you’ve won 62 games in the regular season and to drop the first two games of the playoffs? You’re shit and to be defiled for things going wrong. And that’s what I’m seeing, that’s what’s made me stay away from social media chatter about the Bolts/Jackets series.
In closing: I stated in another post that the albatross around the Lightning’s neck all season has been poor play after time off. There’s something else that’s happened that makes hope ring for this fan: Getting out of town after stumbling at home has led the Lightning back to the win column. We’ll see if they can pull that off tonight minus Nikita Kucherov … But that’s been a factor – no offense from Kucherov – all series so far. But they have enough offensive firepower on the roster to score without him in the lineup.
I don’t expect a win to restore confidence. Skepticism will be alight at every turn. That’s not Lightning hockey either. The fans are better than this.
Post game: Guess I was wrong on them coming back… They’re not playing like the team I knew; net crashing and scrumming/fighting?