Dear Coach Cooper:
You’ve done an amazing job with the young Tampa Bay Lightning. Along with most others, I sing your praises. I’m only following hockey now about 4-5 years, but it doesn’t take lifelong dedications to the game to see what’s staring me in the face. Your “so-called” third line, especially during these finals, has been dominating the vaunted Chicago Blackhawks, hereinafter referred to as (the “Hawkettes”). While the entire Lightning team has been playing gangbusters, especially through the first 4 games (game 5 was a bit of a disappointment outside of the 2nd period), one line has stood out to everyone watching, in every single game. Television analysts have been talking about them each and every game—that same “third line.”
Most praise, including a feature prior to game 5, mentioned Ryan Callahan as the catalyst for the great play of his linemates, Cedric Paquette and J.T. Brown. I know I’ve noticed Brown’s hustle throughout the playoffs as “Cally-like.” Whether they’re keeping the Jonathan Toews line off the scoreboard, or their keeping the puck in the Hawkette defensive zone via checking, hustle and/or scoring, they have been the most visible Tampa Bay line on the ice during these finals.
In the meantime, Steven Stamkos is being frustrated. He’s a great player with a bullet for a slap shot, but keeping him in front of the net (where he’s being haunted by Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson) has been fruitless thus far. And why the hell is he passing so often on power plays? Playing hide the puck isn't working. Make them shoot (all of them). It was great to see Anton Stralman get frustrated the other night and take a couple of slap shots (he must've seen the clock and the time that was left on the PP and said, "Enough passing!")
Here’s a proposition: Why not switch back to Cally, Stamkos and Killorn, and move Valtteri Filppula back to the third line? Cally will keep the puck in their end, and he’s our best in front of the net. Stamkos can return to wing where his slapshot can yield the results it did early in the season. Filppula will not upset the flow of the third line because Brown and Paquette have become as tenacious as Cally.
We’re down to one (or two) more games. Now that Kucherov remains yet another casualty, we need to shake up the approach. We can’t keep losing 2-1, not this team. The Hawkettes will no doubt smother Stamkos again tonight. They’ll do whatever they can to win it at home. We need to shut them down, of course, but we also need to score the way we have throughout the season and the playoffs. The Hawkettes were gifted game 5 when Bishop experienced temporary insanity coming out of the net the way he did (so maybe chain his ass to the net with no more than an 8-foot leash?).
If you’re watching film of the games (and we know you are), you have to see how tenacious the always tenacious Callahan has been. Knocking defenders off the puck, diving to retain possession, blocking shots and making things happen.
Come on, Coop, we need this.
You guys have far exceeded expectations. In fact, everyone is seeing a potential NHL dynasty in Tampa, but like they keep saying: sometimes you only get one shot … and dynasties are built on championships (so why not start now?). We haven’t lost 3 in a row all year and I don’t expect we’ll start tonight, but last game was the first time in the playoffs (since early in Detroit) when I thought we looked like kids playing men again, especially in the 3rd period.
We need a spark, Coop.
Cally is the spark.
F* the beard … listen to me: I love this game of hockey. I think it’s the best of our major sports. There’s simply no other sport as team-oriented as hockey—none. Although I enjoy taking part in the fanatical antics of the sport in support of my team, this bit with the beard … forgetaboutit. Yesterday we hiked four miles and nothing drove me crazier than that F’in beard. I was scratching the entire way and into the night … at least until after The Lord of Light “made a mess” on Game of Thrones … then I promptly went upstairs and shaved the F’er.
It’s not like the beard was working anyway … not in this series. So, smooth as a baby’s ass, as they say, the ugly one’s face is today.
SNHU MFA NEWS …
Darren Rome Leo’s book is up and running … here’s our (TK and several writers) coverage of Darren’s wonderful novel.
I read it way back and was completely overwhelmed by Darren’s brilliance. The story is poignant, humorous, and at times heartbreaking; the writing superb. Very much like some of my favorite authors (Lynn Kostoff, Ben Whitmer, Frank Bill, etc., the kind that humbles entertainment hacks like myself). It’s an incredible read, amici. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Signed: Elizabeth Copps of the Maria Carvainis Agency will represent "The Promise of Water," the thesis novel of Andrea Crossley Spencer. "I feel very, very good about working with Elizabeth," writes Andrea. "We'll be making some last revisions over the summer with the plan for her to send it out around Labor Day."
Book reviews next weekend … sorry for the delay, amici, but the NHL finals, hiking, my own dopey writing, and life in general are slowing the book reviews down. I’m reading two terrific books at the same time. Len Wanner’s Tartan Noir (incredibly well researched expose on Scottish crime fiction) and Joe Clifford’s Choice Cuts (loved the veteran PTSD model train story the most so far).
Hillary, Hillary, Hillary … so she finally speaks on TPP … now that it was halted, she’s all for halting it … wow, what a surprise! And now that she sees Bernie Sanders gaining big time, she’s suddenly against the bankers … I repeat: if Democratic Party voters are vulnerable enough to fall for her latest line of horseshit, they deserve either Republican who wins: Hillary herself or whoever the GOP officially puts out there. The way Hillary views her democratic voters? Simply put:
And I say: No Bernie, my vote shifts to the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.
LET’S GO LIGHTNING!