If you're anything like me, going into the 2009-2010 NHL season you had a glimmer of hope for this squad. Would this be the year the Lightning broke through into the playoffs. Would this be the year they would contend for a playoff position rather than a number one draft pick?
Well, seeing that the Lightning have only four games remaining and are officially eliminated from the playoff chase, we already know the answer to these questions. So what happened to our seemingly lonely Bolts?
Remember back just a couple of months ago when the the olympics were going on and the trade deadline was just coming up? The Lightning found themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt and seemed to only be going up. Then, just as fast as the playoffs came into view, they also disappeared.
Antero Niittymaki, who had been carrying the Lightning for most of the seaon, had some slight stumbles in the net and Mike Smith was unable to give any ounce of help. The young defense of the Lightning slowly began to crumble and key injuries only hindered them more. The only thing that seemed to go in favor of the Bolts was the great continued play of Martin St.Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Steve Downie.
What is the hope for the future? Well, with a new owner in place and OK Hockey finally defunct from the ownership situation, I guess we can only go up from here, right? What can we expect in the offseason?
Well, I think it's safe to say that Alex Tanguay will finally be driven out of town. Luckily, the Lightning only signed him to a one year contract. So, this leaves more opportunity to find a successful SCORING winger to play with Vincent Lecavalier (unlike Tanguay). The bottom line is, the Lightning need some secondary scoring.
I think the final piece to the puzzle (like most others) is that they need a puck moving defenseman. But hey, I guess we would'nt be talking about this is the geniuses at OK Hockey wouldn't have traded a certain puck moving defenseman to the Sharks! (*cough *cough Dan Boyle).
I think if management and ownership just improves on what they have and make some subtle adjustments, The 2010-2011 Bolts could be playoff bound. Then again, it probably won't go all to plan (just like every other season)