What a surprise. The Flyers lose another lead and another match in extra time.
Heading into last night's game, head coach Peter Laviolette strutted into the St. Pete Times Forum pushing a wheelbarrow carrying his oversized testicles in front of him. Our bench boss had more up his sleeve than the rest of the watching hockey nation anticipated.
For awhile now, Tampa's head coach Guy Boucher has implemented a defensive strategy named the Tampa-T, which is a hybrid neutral-zone trap that eliminates any forechecking once the opposition gains possession of the puck in their defensive zone.
Its ultimate goal is to create turnovers in the middle of the pond and capitalize on a potential odd-man rush or breakaway. This is succeeded by overloading center ice with three of your skaters while one hangs out along the offensive blue line and a d-man skates back to his defending zone.
Thanks to a Lightning blog site called RawCharge.com, here's what the Tampa-T looks like on a hockey's dry erase board --
The author does an absolutely sensational job explaining the defensive strategy with further illustration
and more self-drawn diagrams. I highly recommend clicking the link I gave previously.
Many - including myself - would argue that this Tampa-T, though effective in many circumstances, is poor unethical hockey.
If you can remember correctly, the New Jersey Devils were the first NHL club to introduce us to this boring safeguard back in the '90s and early 2000's when they were on their Cup runs.
Why is it unethical?
Like I said before, it eliminates the forecheck. Hockey's not hockey without the forecheck. Not to mention it creates a brain-numbing and boring competition.
In last year's post-season, the Washington Capitals face-offed and lost a series against Tampa Bay in a four game sweep. The Caps fell victim to Guy Boucher's trap and tried desperately to succeed against it by dumping the puck in Tampa's zone and chasing it into the corner boards and/or over the goal line.
Needless to say.....it didn't do them any good.
Peter Laviolette had a different plan.
The man wearing the tie behind the Flyers bench ordered his orange minions to take the puck in our zone and......hold on to it?
That's right. Come and get the puck, bitches!
Laviolette devised a plan to expose the Lightning for using a defensive gimmick that has pussified the game of hockey even further. Many of the feeble-minded argued it was the Flyers who were the cowards for hanging on to the puck and refusing to attack Tampa's setup.
Nay, my friends.
The Bullies dared the Lightning to break away from their ridiculous trap and actually put the choke on the Flyers with some good ol' fashion forechecking. While all of this was going on, our boys heard the boo birds from a blatantly disapproving hometown Florida crowd.
But we never broke.
At first, all of us had no clue what in the hell we were looking at. Personally, I haven't seen anything like it before in all my years of watching NHL hockey. It was a standoff on ice. A game of chicken. Color analyst Pierre McGuire voiced his displeasure with the Flyers decision to turn 30 - 40 seconds of what's supposed to be the fastest sport in the world into a game of wrinkles-producing chess. Then again, any and all opinions belonging to Pierre McGuire are discarded the moment he reminds the viewers how big and handsome the linesmen are. Which he does.....CONSTANTLY.
One of the biggest surprises came in the tilt's first intermission when Versus' Mike Milbury sided with the Philadelphia Flyers and explained why the trap (or any version of it) is a poor man's defense.
Milbury deciding to be pro-Philly is more shocking than the earthquake our East Coast experienced back in August. I hate that man with every fiber of my existence but he was spot on last night.
"That's not hockey in my book, but whatever," Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said of Tampa Bay's defensive plan. "The league's letting them do it. Would you pay money to watch that? I wouldn't either. That was a TV game, too. Way to showcase the product."
Chris Pronger and the rest of the Flyers called Tampa out for their lousy 1-3-1, and the world heard. Believe me when I say that this isn't the last time you're going to see a team stall with the puck in their own zone in attempt to draw the Lightning out of their Tampa-T. And fans will get bored with Guy Boucher's defense REAL quick.
Once again our Broad Street Bullies may have done something in the game of hockey to implement change in the rule book. However the referees calling the game blew their whistles on the Flyers for "delay of game", and Philadelphia was forced to take the faceoff in their own zone.
There was a lot of confusion in last night's match.
One thing that wasn't confusing? Braydon Coburn's smackdown on Tampa's headcase, Steve Downie --
Until next time, fans. Good night. Good hockey.