Tampa Bay Lightning vs Buffalo Sabres

Tampa Bay Lightning: Playoff Push Requires More Urgency

Feb 13, 2018; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Scott Wilson (20) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tuesday nights loss to the last place Buffalo Sabres should serve as a wake-up call. With playoffs around the corner, they have to raise their game to match the opponent. That hasn’t happened, and the result has been less than appealing.

Two months ago, the Lightning looked like world beaters, poised to run away with the Atlantic Division. Fast forward to now, and they look like the worst team in the NHL. One the red-hot Boston Bruins would easily wipe the floor with. Heck, the floundering Sabres DID wipe the ice with them.

Whether it’s leaky defense, an offensive power outage or subpar goaltending, there’s no denying this team must find another gear and quick. The Bruins have crept to within one point and are scorching hot. Plus, they have the hottest netminder in all of hockey in Tuukka Rask. That’s enough to give any team nightmares.

Meanwhile, the Lightning are either routinely giving up 30+ shots or allowing 5+ goals per game. Neither is a recipe for success come playoff time. The old saying “Defense Wins Championships” applies here, something this team hasn’t quite figured out. They seem content trying to outscore the opponent, a recipe that proved sustainable early on but not lately.

Defense is obviously an issue, with anyone not named Victor Hedman unable to clear the puck out of harms way more often than not. Hopefully, GM Steve Yzerman sees this and can swing a deal prior to the February 26 trade deadline. In the meantime, the Lightning must show urgency in every single game. Their shot at a division title depends on it.

Can the Tampa Bay Lightning snap out of this recent funk? While unknown, this current style has everyone’s attention. If it isn’t corrected, there’s a real chance this team finds itself swept out of the playoffs early on.

 

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