STRENGTH TO REBOUND
The dictionary defines RESILIENCE as:
I use this term to describe the Lightning and let me explain why. They are the only NHL team since the start of the pre-season schedule not to lose three games in a row. Every other NHL team has lost three games in a row at least once this season. All teams have accomplished this ignominious accomplishment save the Tampa Bay Lightning.
One of the leaders on this team, Ryan Callahan, told the media “We have to put our best foot forward…We are a confident group. We have proven we can rebound from disappointing games.” In a nutshell, he is describing the underlying strength of this team. Its resiliency.
— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) May 9, 2015
It could have been easy several times during the regular season for this Tampa Bay Lighting team to go through the motions in a particular game and a losing streak would have ensued. But this team found a way to bounce back. They found whatever is within themselves as individuals and as a collective team to fight back after a loss or two to win a game.
On November 11th, the Lightning lost 3 – 2 in a shootout against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was the third road game in four nights for the Lightning who were riding a six game winning streak despite playing without Victor Hedman. Getting back home, the team came out flat in a game against San Jose and lost 2 -1 . This was their first two game losing streak of the season. How did this team respond? Playing a red-hot New York Islanders team, they beat the boys from the island by a score of 5 to 2. Three game losing streak avoided. Hurdle cleared.
Just two games later the Lightning lost to these same Islanders by that same 5 to 2 score. To make matters worse, the team lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs by that same dreaded 5-2 score. The second two game losing streak in as many weeks. How do they answer? Playing the Minnesota Wild, who had embarrassed them 7-2 in October in the Twin Cities, the Lightning escape with a 2-1 victory to avoid dropping three games in a row. In December over the span of 14 days on three different occasions, the Lightning lost two games in a row only to respond with a victory each time to avoid losing the third consecutive game each time.
A team has to possess an intestinal fortitude that is unique for this pattern to continue. It must have the leadership in their coaching ranks as well as among their players to continue to fight through the adversity or malaise that could set in when a team drops a couple games in a row. Most present and former players describe how the mind has to be right during a game. How much the mental aspects can at times be more important than the physical ailments or limitations a player or team faces. Again, once in January and another time in February, the team lost two games in a row only to find a way to win the third game.
THAT CHAMPIONSHIP QUALITY
In March and in April, there were three more two game losing streaks. As you may have guessed by now the Tampa Bay Lighting won the game immediately after those two game drops to avoid the dreaded three game losing streak. The last one was against Florida on April 4 as the season was winding down.
But twice in March, after losing two consecutive games, the Tampa Bay Lightning avoided losing a third game in a row by beating the same team. On March 16th, after losing in a shootout to Boston and then dropping a 2-1 game to Winnipeg, the Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens at home by a score of 4-2. And on March 30th at the Bell Centre, after losing to Nashville and Detroit, the Lightning beat the Canadiens on the road by a score of 5-3.
Resiliency. It is an important trait of any championship team. We hear so often about the grind that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To win four best of seven series over a little over a month and a half takes offense, defense, goaltending and special teams. But it takes more than that. Some would say it takes a little luck. Others would say it takes determination. And there are some who say it takes character. Let me just say it takes all of the above and I would add resiliency.
Whatever it is inside a man that pushes him when his body tells him he cannot go any further. To jump in front of a 100 MPH slap shot because your team is up by one with five minutes to go. However anyone would describe it, this “stuff” of champions has been shown at times this season by this young Tampa Bay team.
If I were a betting man, I would bet on the resiliency of the Tampa Bay Lightning. So far, this season, they are perfect.