Tampa Bay received 62 video games within the common season, tying the NHL document, however did not win a lot as one contest within the post-season, falling in 4 straight to the Columbus Blue Jackets. What comes subsequent for the Lightning at a time when there are extra questions than solutions?Anthony Cirelli seems on because the Blue Jackets have a good time|Jamie Sabau/NHLI through Getty ImagesTampa Bay Lightning followers who suppose they’ve simply witnessed the largest choke-job in NHL historical past can take solace in the truth that in 1982, the Edmonton Oilers completed 48 factors forward of the Los Angeles Kings and blew a 5-Zero lead in Sport three en path to dropping the first-round collection. Actually, statistically, there are no less than six playoff collection that had been larger upsets than the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Lightning.
Nah, overlook it. There’s nothing that’s going to sugar coat this monumental folding of the tent by the Lightning. Given the very fact they tied the NHL’s single-season wins document, received the Presidents’ Trophy and had been swept within the first spherical, the Lightning make a compelling case for many who consider they made probably the most ignominious playoff exit in NHL historical past.
Nothing in regards to the Lightning’s loss to Columbus within the first spherical made sense. The ability play that was tops within the league in the course of the common season was mediocre at finest. The penalty kill that was No. 1 within the common season was abysmal. The league’s most harmful offense couldn’t produce greater than a median of two targets a recreation. The person who will nearly actually stroll away with the Vezina Trophy in two months posted an .856 save proportion. And the participant who put up one of the best offensive season of the wage cap period failed to attain a objective and bought himself suspended for a recreation. Wow, if you put it that means, maybe it was the worst collapse in NHL historical past.
The consequence will undoubtedly have these questioning whether or not this roster has what it takes to win when it counts most. There might be requires important change and those that consider the $eight.5 million captain, the $three.75 million coach, the GM…anyone, anyone, has to go.
Sound acquainted? Effectively, it ought to, as a result of the group that hoisted the Stanley Cup final June had been listening to precisely that for a couple of decade. Ask Steve Yzerman, who was till not too long ago the GM of this group, what number of occasions Detroit Purple Wing followers wished him on a one-way ticket out of city earlier than he led them to a few Stanley Cups, the primary of which when he was 32 years outdated. Finally, it is going to be the Lightning’s means to close out that noise and make selections based mostly on logic relatively than emotion that can decide whether or not or not they observe within the path blazed by the Purple Wings and the Capitals.
So what are the Lightning to do? Effectively, they don’t have the posh of doing nothing, and which may really be a blessing in disguise for them. Going into subsequent season, they’ve simply over $6 million in cap area and so they’re confronted with the duty of signing Braydon Level to a contract extension and mainly rebuilding half of an ageing protection corps. And the 12 months after subsequent, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy should be renewed.
So what the Lightning are going to must do is precisely put a worth on their gamers, then swallow exhausting and make some tough selections. They’re made all of the harder by the truth that each Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde have no-trade clauses of their offers. Do the Lightning hand over some belongings to have a group take Ryan Callahan’s $5.eight million cap hit off their fingers? Or do they both deal Level’s rights or enable one other group to supply sheet him as a restricted free agent and take the bounty of belongings they’ll get in return? You’d must suppose that there’s no scarcity of choices on the desk in the intervening time.
These are selections that had been going to must be made anyway, even when the Lightning had received the Stanley Cup. They’ll now be made with the backdrop of this huge collapse and also you’d must suppose it is going to be an element, however the Lightning know they’ve a powerful group and a stable group, led by proprietor Jeff Vinik, and received’t succumb to the temptation to make change merely for the sake of change.
A part of the issue right here is the Lightning actually don’t have this discovered but. Final season they went on a roll to start out the marketing campaign, then let their foot off the gasoline and nearly misplaced the division. This season they vowed that wouldn’t occur once more and stored their tempo going till Sport No. 82. Neither of these approaches was profitable. The Capitals had a revolving door of coaches for a time, however caught with Barry Trotz by three straight second-round defeats earlier than he led them to a championship, so firing the coach isn’t a panacea.
This isn’t a case of a company in disarray. The Lightning are stable and secure from prime to backside and their scouting workers, led by director of newbie scouting Al Murray, has displayed an uncanny means to seek out gamers and develop them into excellent NHLers. Maybe coach Jon Cooper was proper when he stated that for six days in April, his group couldn’t discover its recreation. Perhaps it’s that straightforward. The Lightning will win a Stanley Cup sometime. It actually received’t be this season and may not be subsequent, but when they continue to be affected person, they’ll be rewarded. And in as we speak’s parity-riddled NHL, that’s in all probability all you’ll be able to count on.
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Tags: columbus blue jackets, playoffs, tampa bay lightningConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.