Sunday morning's video review of Tampa Bay's 6-2 home loss to the Colorado Avalanche revealed a few missing elements to the team's play, beyond just an inability to score enough goals or keep enough pucks out of their own net.
The Lightning didn't like the way they were outworked in some aspects of the game and saw that lack of compete magnified in slow motion on a big screen in front of the rest of the team. The resulting hour-and-a-half on the AMALIE Arena ice following that film session was one of the more intense practices the Lightning have conducted since training camp, one that featured multiple compete drills, one-on-one battles, two-on-two battles, physicality and a lot of hard work.
"I think we kind of fooled ourselves walking out of here last night thinking we gave ourselves a chance to win," Bolts defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "When we really looked at it, we didn't win a lot of 50/50 battles, created a lot of our own mistakes. Maybe there wasn't a lot of them, but you've still got to be precise with the puck and in good structure and simple and crisp. There was a lot of things that we weren't doing the way we were expected of, trying to instill that here today."
Video: Cooper on intensity at practice
In the locker room Saturday night following the loss to the Avalanche, the Lightning spoke about how they played like they wanted for large stretches of the game but were victimized by turnovers and mistakes that led directly to Colorado goals. They liked the number of shots they were able to generate, the good scoring chances they created. Colorado goaltender Pavel Francouz was a difference maker, robbing sure goals and turning the momentum of the game.
But after examining the tape a day later, the Lightning weren't as complimentary of their game.
"We all watched our shifts and watched breakdowns, certain things here with the team," McDonagh said. "We looked at the shots and might have thought we did enough to win the game, but in the grand scheme of things, it was pretty sloppy and not playing up to what is expected here from each individual and as a team. So hard practice today and with the schedule we knew it was coming too, so it was good for us to get some work in."
The response in practice to that honest assessment was positive. The Lightning brought intensity, determined to make sure they would never have to say another team outworked them again.
"I think we even made it clear at practice we need the work ethic to be a little higher during games and we worked hard today," Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph said. "I think the guys really battled really hard. No one quit. Everyone kept going until the end. The ice was getting bad at the end and we still competed. I think that was a good practice for everyone."
"There's no doubt we have it in us," McDonagh added. "We've got to get it consistent and find that motivation and find that competitiveness from the first puck drop. We've got to look each other in the eye the start of each game and make sure we're all there and ready to battle for one another. It's something we need to do here and grow here as a team."
Video: McDonagh on accountability
Following the session, head coach Jon Cooper announced to the team they would have Monday off, a welcome respite from a trying early-season schedule that's seen the Lightning on the road for two weeks and with just two home games compared to six away from AMALIE Arena. The schedule doesn't lighten for the Lightning any time soon either. At the conclusion of the current three-game homestand, the Bolts play three games in four nights in New York City and the surrounding area and head immediately to Sweden for another nine days.
Monday's day off will be an important one for the team to rest, recharge and rejuvenate.
"If you ask the players to rank the days during the season, I think all the days off would tie for first," Cooper said.