In defense of the Tampa Bay Lightning
I’m going to voice what seems to be a very unpopular opinion here, because it’s something that I feel very strongly about and it seems like a lot of people are vilifying the wrong side in this.
No, I’m not talking about those idiot students at Penn State.
I’m talking about the absolute sham of a game that happened between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
For those of you fortunate enough to miss the game, here’s a sample:
For the video impaired, basically what happens here is that the Flyers decide that they don’t likeTampa’s 1-3-1 forecheck (or lack thereof), and they’re going to let everyone know it – by not doing a thing.
Now, there are a lot of people that are vilifying Tampa in this and, on the surface, they wouldn’t be wrong. The 1-3-1 is a horrifically boring system. It takes the 1-2-2 that Jacques Lemaire used to run and clogs up the neutral zone that much more.
Exciting? I’d rather watch paint dry.
The main point that people seem to be hung up on is that it’s the Bolts’ system, so it’s obviously their fault.
The problem with this, though, is that the Bolts were on DEFENSE. In any sport, when you’re on defense, there’s no expectation that you attack. It oftentimes gives you a better shot at winning, or at forcing a mistake, but at the end of the day, you’re defending your goal, end zone, basket, whatever you want to call it. Tampa is simply under no obligation to attack the Flyers in any way, shape or form when the Flyers have the puck.
Conversely, the Flyers are on OFFENSE. It doesn’t matter the sport. When you’re on offense, the point is to attack. In fact, there is a significant detriment to your team when you don’t attack (i.e. you don’t put points on the board). The Lightning weren’t doing anything wrong.
Is their style the most exciting style to watch? No. But, at the end of the day, their purpose when the other team has the puck isn’t to be exciting. It’s to defend, and they obviously did just that. Boring or not, there were extended periods of time where the Flyers had the puck, but were not an offensive threat because of the Lightning’s system. I don’t think Boucher gives a good goddamn whether or not it was exciting, because it worked.
By Philly doing what they did, all it does is cement in Boucher’s mind (and in the minds ofTampa’s players) that this style of hockey, no matter how boring, works.
It isn’t the Lightning that should be ashamed today. It’s the Flyers for essentially becoming that kid who gets pissed that everyone else isn’t doing what he wants to do and says, “Fine, I’m taking my ball and going home!”