Tampa Bay Lightning: A Reaction to an Early Exit From the Finals

As a sportswriter, we read several types of blogs and articles. In most cases we either we agree or disagree. I have been one myself for a year plus. I had my share of people agree with me and others that do not. After reading a local newspaper where I live an article caught my attention. A week ago, on June 2nd an article was written about the end of the Tampa Bay Lightning season. The author’s name is Diana Nearhos she covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Tampa Bay Times.

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In her article, Ms. Nearhos listed 5 reasons on how the Tampa Bay Lightning first-round exit from the playoffs was dissected. All 5 of them hit the nail on the head. She explains how the team wasn’t the same team it was during the regular season. As fans, we can step back as wonder what happened. The Tampa Bay Lightning dominated mostly every team during the regular season. As the playoffs began, the Lightning was pegged to win the Cup.

The first part of her article stated that the team had no response. She is indeed correct. The team was up 3-0 after the first period of game 1. The Blue Jackets would go on to score 4 unanswered goals to win game 1. They came out as an ok team in game 2. Nonetheless, the Lightning would lose game 2 by a score of 5-1. They should have shown urgency as the series shifted to Columbus. Instead, 7 seconds into game 3 the Blue Jackets scored. However, the rest of the series was blank and the Lightning hit the golf links.

Some of the Lightning key players also in many ways didn’t show up. Victor Hedman who suffered an injury did not play in games 3 and 4. Ryan McDonagh made some uncharacteristic bad decisions. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, nor Braden Point didn’t have a point until game 4. After the first period of game 1, Sergei Bobrovsky was absolutely near lights out. Andrei Vasilevskiy seemed like he was out of it once the series began.

The third part was about another star that didn’t show up. The one who is behind the bench. Head coach Jon Cooper has been a stable for the Lightning for a long time. In this series, former Lightning coach John Tortorella taught Cooper a lesson. Cooper is up for the Jack Adams award for the top coach in the NHL. The reason he is a finalist is that the Lightning won the President Trophy. I think he is on a short leech if the Lightning doesn’t at least make it to the Stanley Cup finals even though he got the extension he might be fired.

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The series as Ms. Nearhos called is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting the same result is insanity. This Lightning team threw the same game plan at the Blue Jackets in all four games and never won. The changes that the Lightning should have made never happened. Throughout the season the Lightning used their speed to go through the neutral zone and put pressure on the opponents’ defense. The Blue Jackets adjusted to that and were able to neutralize that. Therefore, the result was the Blue Jackets used the forecheck to score goals and win the series.

The last point she made was the lack of special teams. The Lightning was tied or flat out the best team on the power play. They also did very well on the penalty kill. Nevertheless, in the playoffs, they were dead last. The Lightning allowed the Blue Jackets 5 goals on 10 power play attempts. They only scored once on the 6 opportunities they had. In fact, the best the Lightning looked came in game 1 where the Lightning was on the penalty kill and got a shorthanded opportunity with Alex Killorn fresh legs scored on that chance. After that the Lightning never had the same penalty kill again. I agree with the five points she mentioned. In the end, let’s see how the Lightning fixes them moving into the 2019 season.

Do you agree with Ms. Nearhos article? Leave a comment below.
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My resource was: https://www.tampabay.com/sports/lightning/2019/05/31/five-reasons-the-lightning-isnt-in-the-stanley-cup-finals/

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