Lightning Mid-Season Report


RECORD: 21-18-3

Place in Conference: 7th

Injured Players: Fredrik Modin, Rob DiMaio

Team Point Leader: Vaclav Prospal is leading the team in points with 44 on the season, and is tied with Fredrik Modin in goals scored with 17. Playoff hero, Brad Richards is leading the team in assists, tallying 29. Pavel Kubina holds the lead in penalty minutes, at 64.

Current Situation: The reigning Stanley Cup Champions started the season very shaky. They obviously lacked the confidence they had back in 2003-04. The first four games wins alternated with losses. Soon enough, the Bolts went through a six game losing streak which was the worst slump since 2001-2002. Bouncing back, goaltender John Grahame set a franchise record with 9 consecutive wins as the starter. Coming of a 10-1-1 run, the team struggled, winning 2 of 8. However, their last two games were won in one goal decisions: 2-1 over the New York Islanders and 1-0 over the New York Rangers.

Strengths: This team has struggled in every area. At the beginning of the season, the losses were blamed on the defensemen, whose placement was horrific. Then the power play was abysmal. After that, the offense ran dry. Now, the power play is struggling, the penalty killing abysmal, the defense in the wrong places at the wrong times, the offense as dry as the Sahara, and the goaltending – well apes probably would do better. This team has an impressive offensive line up (on paper that is), but the goals aren’t clicking; the stars can’t seem to find the back of the net. All of this is very disappointing to Lightning fans.

Weaknesses: The weakness would be the goaltending of the Stanley Cup Champions. John Grahame has been given every opportunity to snatch the No. 1 goaltending job. How well he is performing, that all depends on how positive you are. He started the season off well, a 5-2 victory over Carolina. After backup Sean Burke pulled a groin, Grahame’s play plummeted. Around that time, Torts said “If the goalies like it or lump it, they are going to be held accountable just like everybody else in that locker room. All we are looking for is good, consistent goaltending. Not great, just good. I don’t think we’ve gotten that yet.” John Grahame came back from the skid and won nine consecutive starts, breaking a franchise record. His GAA is still below 3.0, but for how long, only time will tell. In response to the 4-3 loss against the Canadiens, Tortorella said: “We can’t have four goals go in our net on 10 (scoring) chances.” Burke started this season wonderfully; being played in relief of John Grahame, he stopped 4 of 4 shots against him, against the Bruins, and then winning against Pittsburgh. Things took a

turn for the worse once he pulled his groin, stepping on a puck during practice on October 29. Usually solid, he had a slip up against his former team, the New Jersey Devils, allowing 6 goals on less than 20 shots. Other games, he has been tough to beat, such as against another of his former teams, the Phoenix Coyotes; he allowed only one goal, and none on a five on three penalty kill. His goals-against average also rests at just below 3.0. *Note: Sean Burke allowed one goal against NYI, and Grahame had his second shutout against NYR, in back to back games.

Needs: The team definitely needs more consistent goaltending. Tortorella said. “And if he plays well, he’s going to go again. This is what we have. And I’m not up here trying to rip anybody apart, but let’s be (expletive) honest about what’s going on here. And it’s getting old. We’re going nowhere, nowhere until that situation is straightened out.” As for trades, trading isn’t an option. With just above $700,000 under the cap, that just is not going to happen. “We are going to get better with the people we have right here. We are staying within our organization and going to get better that way in all positions and all facets of the game,” Tortorella said. “I have total belief in the way our system is and the people in that room. So it’s a tremendous challenge, but wherever there is a challenge it’s a great opportunity.”

Expectations in Second Half: With the way this team has played so far this year, they’ll be lucky if they make the eighth playoff berth. The rest of the season is going to be as shaky as the beginning. If they make the playoffs, they will end up squaring off with the Ottawa Senators, which can only mean doom. The Lightning has failed to defeat the Senators since

March 1, 2003. Tampa has only won five of the past 29 meetings since 1998-1999 regular season, and only two of the past 17. They will easily be dethroned as champions.

6 Responses to Lightning Mid-Season Report

  1. Wilson52 says:

    I personally think TB is on a Stanley Cup hangover. I am sure they will get their act together and at least make the playoffs. With that being said if they make the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed, its going to be a tough matchup for the #1 or # 2.

    Even though Ottawa has done a great job with TB in the past, this would be a tough matchup for the Sens. Ottawa will have to play great hockey to beat TB and TB would have to play great hockey as well to beat Ottawa. Also TB would be a hard matchup for the # 2 seed which would probably be Philadelphia.

    I think this years playoffs are going to be really unpredicatble especially when you could see a team like TB as a bottom playoff seed. Should be interesting.

  2. intothevoid001 says:

    i wouldn’t be so quick to say that the sens are going to crush the lightning, they’re defending cup champs.. it is the playoffs, anything can happen

  3. Gretzkin says:

    Tampa Bays reign as Stanley Cup Champions ended pretty much when they hoisted the trophy.

    They weren’t a bad team, they just got lucky.

    The fact of the matter is, that the strongest teams usually run out of gas and lose out before their time.

    Tampa Bay – Calgary was a bit of a fluke.

    I think that Tampa Bay is a shadow of the team that won the cup now, so I wouldn’t bet on seeing them in the finals this year, that’s for sure.

    The Flames however, also got lucky. But they had Kipper, who was unbeatable, a very strong D, and a Team Spirit that couldn’t be matched by anybody else.

    Oh yeah, and Darrly Sutter.

    I think the Flames chances of a return is more likely, but I think Alberta, and Canada will be more likely represented by Edmonton in the Finals this year if they make a deal for a bonafide Goalie.

    One thing I do know, is that it’s over for Vancouver…

  4. jonnygf40 says:

    I’m a huge Canucks fan, and I was just conjuring a trade in my head that I thought would help both Tampa Bay and Vancouver. Rumors are circling around Vancouver that Jovanovski is on his way out. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year, and speculation is that he is wanting to sign in Florida. He has his offseason house in Florida, and his wife is from there. Since both teams are struggling right now, how about:

    to Van : Brad Richards

    to TB : Ed Jovanovski

    Or maybe a package involving those two players. I know that the TBay power play has been struggling lately, and Jovo would definitely help that out. Also, Vancouver has been lacking in the first line center department. Morrison hasn’t come through so far this year, and the first line hasn’t been firing on all cylinders of late. Richards would dramatically change the look of the first line:

    Naslund – Richards – Bertuzzi

    With Prospal having such a wicked season, and Lecavalier having another Vincent Lecavalier season they have some wiggle room loosing one of their top centers. Both salaries are also fairly similar. Richards is bringing in about $3.2 mil this year with a significant raise no doubt comming in the off season (probably near the $5 $ 5.5 mil range.) Jovo is making $3.99 this year, but is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. He is also up for a pay raise (probably near the $5 to $5.5 mil range.) Obviously this trade would have to be a sign and trade, because there is no way that TBay is going to trade Richards for Jovo if he’s not signed.

    Well that’s my two cents. Let me know what you think.

  5. Laus723 says:

    Jovo’s Florida home is about 5 hours from tampa, not much point in him going to the lightning, plus, being a former panther, there’s still some built-in angst, probably. his wife is from south florida, only makes sense he’d go back to the cats!

  6. Leaf_Nation19 says:

    I highly doubt that trade will ever happen as well because both Tampa Bay and Vancouver are both looking for goaltenders. Also, with Morrison, Richards, and H.Sedin at center, there’ll be a problem in ice time, and also break up Vancouver’s already talented offense. Tampa Bay needs a goaltender especially someone like Theodore or Aebischer, as Tortorella has already expressed this to the media. Richards is too valuable to traded away, there’d have to be much more in return than Jovanovski and a few other mediocre players even if his contract expires at the end of this season.

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