Can The Lightning Get back on Track?

Through the first month of the condensed NHL season, the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning looked as if they were picking up right where they left off. The Lightning held a 9-1-1 record through their first 11 games and was at the central division’s top. 

The NHL took a unique approach to the 2021 season. For a couple of years, there had been rumors of potential league-wide division realignment. This season was the perfect trial run at it. That realignment comes as a limiting travel method and ensuring that teams will not have to cross the United States-Canada border during the pandemic. As part of the NHL’s realignment, a division of all Canadian teams was formed as well. 

This will focus on realignment and focus on limiting exposure to COVID through traveling. While this allows for multiple tries at a rival, capitalizing on these games is crucial. A shortened season doesn’t allow for these types o

As of today, the Lightning hold an 11-4-1 record. That is still a pretty decent record; add in the fact that the Lightning are scoring on 70% of their shots, and things are looking pretty good for the team. But unfortunately, 3 of the 4 losses on the season have come in the latest four-game stretch. While it is way too early to go into full panic mode, some concern is warranted.

The team we have watched on the ice in the past two weeks is not the team we saw in the playoffs last year and certainly not the one we saw at the beginning of the season. There have been many unforced and sloppy turnovers, missed opportunities to score, and chaos on the defensive end. Plays stall in the offensive zone, and while the defense plays like they all just met each other this week. 

Fans of the Lightning are used to an electric offense that can score on whoever whenever. For the past couple of seasons through today, the offense has been the team’s heart and soul. The Lightning won the 2019 Presidents Trophy; the award was presented to the regular season team with the most points scored. The Lightning’s 128 points scored is the most in NHL history.

But with that being said, the Lightning have lost only to the Panthers and Hurricanes, the latter they play tonight for the second time. The Hurricanes control the puck in almost every game they play and often force opponents into turnovers. Carolina ranks as the top team in the division for now. 

We will see if the Lightning get back on track for these upcoming match-ups.

Tampa Finds its Offense Again in Carolina Series

The Lightning were able to shake a two-game skid against Carolina where they had failed to score a goal. Tampa has the opportunity to get back on track with a big series win against a good Carolina Hurricanes squad.

Tuesday night, Lightning fans were treated to a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Four different Bolts scored in this pivotal win. The team showed grit and veteran leadership after overcoming an early deficit. Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, and Alex Killorn scored for the Lightning, snapping a two-game losing streak. In between the pipes, Andrei Vasilevskiy held it down, making 34 saves.

Coach Jon Cooper shook things up a little, hoping to find the right combination to get the offense back on track. He inserted rookie Alex Barré-Boulet into the lineup and mixed up his lines. 

The New Lines:

  • Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Blake Coleman
  • Mathieu Joseph – Tyler Johnson – Steven Stamkos
  • Alex Killorn – Yanni Goude – Alex Barré-Boulet
  • Patrick Maroon – Barclay Goodrow – Alex Volkov

The mindset of this game was apparent from the drop of the puck. Get the puck in the back of the net. Tampa started the first period ringing off 11 shot attempts through the first nine minutes. 

Tampa’s first goal would come from none other than Steve Stamkos. Tampa ran a reliable play they have scored on many times this season; get Stamkos the puck on the left side and let him fire. The big Swede slammed a one time past James Reiner to tie the game 1-1

Victor Hedman played a significant role for the Lightning on Tuesday night. The defenseman was able to get in the scoring column as well as having a couple of big defensive stops. Ondrej Palat was able to send a puck off of a skate and past Reimer to give the Lightning the lead. It wasn’t the prettiest goal he’s ever scored, but it was an important one as it gave the Lighting a 3-2 lead with less than 12 minutes to play in the game. The final goal would come at the end of the third on an open net.

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Moving Forward for the Lightning

The final two games of the series will be back to back Wednesday and Thursday night. We will see if Coach Cooper keeps the same lineup from Tuesday’s victory. Having the momentum will help The Lightning if they can keep the same mindset. Attack early and often while relying on what they do best. They were moving the puck around to get shooters open. 

If the Lightning can win these two games and at the very least 1 of them, they can jump back up into the number 2 or number 1 spot in the Coastal division.