Ironically, my sentiments mirrored those of Victor Hedman until Victor Hedman echoed those sentiments in the direction of the opposing bench of players who was in the process of orchestrating a near clinical destruction of his own bench's aura of invincibility.
As a fan, I am supposed to sink into my own couch while lazily drawing convenient comparisons to series' past between two teams that are, when you take into consideration the amount of moves the Blue Jackets have made over the last 12 months, entirely different. The reigning Norris Trophy winner whose most notable contribution to the series thus far was facilitating his team's untimely collapse in the postseason opener by putting forth a preseason-opening effort, on the other hand, is not...
Point being, there was plenty of reason to believe that the Tampa Bay Lightning, with their embarrassment of riches from a talent perspective, could "buy" their way out of a surprising two game hole.
I say was because that reasoning took a sizable hit when one of their most prominent and underperforming players chose to openly base all of his optimism on the efforts of a Stanley Cup Championship winning team that he, need I remind you, proceeded to lose to later in last year's playoffs.
I say was because the Head Coach of the team in question referred to the first gut punch his team has taken all year as a "five alarm fire" in an overreactive way that reminds you that the smoothest of regular seasons has left him entirely unfamiliar with alarm fires one through four...
I say was because last we saw the league's leading scorer he was more concerned with selfishly going out of his way to try to damage the brain of the defenseless opponent he chopped down in a fit of frustration than trying to carry his success into the time of year that actually matters...
Honestly, I don't know what's more dispiriting for Tampa Bay, the fact that their most prolific game-breaker did something that was sure to get him suspended from a pivotal Game 3 despite having run-in's with Player Safety in previous postseasons or that it might not even matter with how he's played thus far.
The truth is, Nikita Kucherov acted out like a spoiled brat who thinks winning is a given despite having entered the time of the year where not even an inch is given. The even harsher truth is, if Victor Hedman's lousy and off-target trash talk is any indication, that sounds like it may be a prevailing thought process in a locker room that's in too deep to keep playing like they deserve to win as opposed to playing like they are desperate to win. The harshest truth is that the comparison of a 2-0 series deficit to a five alarm fire sounds like somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as no one thought their chances of coming back were that close to ashes before the member of their organization who is supposed to be the most grounded said so.
Each round of the NHL postseason is an up-and-down grind, so at the end of the day it's not exactly 'The End of Days'...but someone might want to notify Jon Cooper of that. And someone might want to let Victor Hedman know that history doesn't just magically repeat itself because it's happened do so enough times since the advent of written word to popularize that saying. And someone might want to put a drop of vodka under Nikita Kuchero's tongue and have him suck on a binky in the owner's suite until he sleeps off his irritable entitlement during the game he made sure not to be a part of.
Again, the Tampa Bay Lightning may very well show some spine and rebound from this, as they have the top-end skill, depth, and experience to do so. However, as of last night they were all on very different pages and not one of those pages read like it was destined to lead into a more uplifting chapter. That's far more of a cause for concern than one of best regular season teams of all-time sputtering off to a slow start in the playoffs.