TAMPA – So it ends? With a frame-by-frame analysis of the fatal goal, is it as if Abraham Zapruder was coming back from the grass?
After all the good times, all the memories, all the glory, do we have to raise our voices in collective anger? Is it possible that Lightning finally happened through a conspiracy of silence?
Hopefully the increasingly vague complaints coach Jon Cooper hinted at in the brief press conference after Wednesday night’s game was simply the frustrations of a man whose team may have run out of tomorrow’s endless stockpile.
Tampa Bay lost 3-2 in overtime to Colorado in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, leaving Lightning just one defeat away from the end of their reign at the top of the NHL.
This is the title. This is the news. This is the reality.
But the next few days could be filled with images, slow-motion videos and manic complaints that Lightning were deceived by a three-pointer because the referees failed to whistle when Avalanche had too many players on the ice. at the last moment.
“You know, I’ve been involved in some heartbreaking defeats and defeats,” Cooper said. “I was with a team that just fights, fights and fights. And they fought for the third consecutive Stanley Cup final. And in a season of cap that is so difficult and the rules are set against you because the league wants parity.
“And I like that in the league. And that’s what makes it harder… but it’s going to bite a lot more than others… just because it took… it was potential… I don’t know… It’s hard for me. It will be difficult for me to speak. I will talk to you (Thursday). You will understand what I mean when you see the winning goal. And my heart breaks for the players. “Because we should probably still play.”
So did that really happen?
Yes? Probably? Probably?
At least one version of the video appears to show Nazem Kadri jumping on the ice several seconds before Nathan MacKinnon reaches the bench. As MacKinnon emerges from the ice, Colorado players begin to celebrate as Kadri scores the winning goal.
Even more damning was the official box score shared by the league staff just before Cooper’s press conference. Each goal includes a list of players on the ice at the time it was scored.
At the end of Kadri, there are seven players on the list for Avalanche. Obviously, this is more than allowed. The league later removed Erik Johnson’s number from the list of ice players in his online box score and announced in the media workroom that Johnson was not on the ice.
Honestly, that was a weak response from the NHL.
Amid the confusion from the initial boxing score, the seemingly video evidence and the smell of a class from Cooper, the NHL should have dealt with the controversy quickly.
Instead, it was after 1 p.m. when the league finally released a statement stating that none of the on-ice officials saw too many men on the ice and that the project is not subject to video surveillance.
But the statement essentially leaves everyone hanging. The referees did not see too many men on the ice, but the league never says if the original call was correct.
And so the Avs have a cloud over their victory, the Lightning have a gall in their throats and millions of fans are left wondering what the hell happened.
And that is a shame. Because this was a great game and it could be a great moment for two great teams.
And even though the Lightning lost, this night was what you always loved about this team. Dexterity, determination, selflessness and fearlessness.
And if it’s going to be the end – if this is the last game of the season at the Amalie Arena – it was a fitting farewell, even if the last moments ended in confusion.
If Lightning fell short of the third consecutive title, it was not due to lack of effort. The owner spent money, the general manager made time exchanges and the players left their hearts on the ice.
At one point, we may have just asked too many of them.
Getting here without Briden Point, your top scorer from the last two seasons, is quite impressive. Nikita Kucherov is also in pain and Nick Paul is not well.
And then, as game 4 progressed, the Lightning lost Erik Cernak. Anthony Cirelli also suffered an injury to his right arm and, when he returned, could no longer make out faces.
“We grind, we give everything, it is definitely not due to lack of effort,” said leader Steven Stamkos. “As I said, it’s a sacrifice this time of year. No one else outside the dressing room knows. Sometimes you think you know, but you do not know. This is a difficult time of year for both teams.
“You have kids who are playing with a lot of things right now. “The kids are just fighting and our team will fight.”
Was Keravnos worth losing game 4? No, but only because they played so bravely.
So they were cheated by a win in game 4? No, even if the Avs had too many men on the ice.
This game is played at breakneck speed and the referees do their best to make every call correctly. If they missed it, so be it. There is always tomorrow.
Even if they start to finish for Tampa Bay.
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