Injuries took their toll on the Tampa Bay Lightning. With some pivotal players missing time, Tampa Bay fell short of making the playoffs. However, hopefully things will be better next season. One thing the team should be thankful for is being covered by the league with medical and dental insurance because with all the injuries the cost would have been ridiculous. At any rate, it’s safe to say that injuries were not good to the Lightning, this past season.
Injuries at the “Top”
Take a look at the 2011-12 stats for the Lightning, sorted by points per player. Now, of the top 13 point-scorers on the team, how many played at least 75 games? That’s right – five. Maybe that’s not entirely fair, as there are some players in the 60s and low 70s, but it doesn’t take much to see how much injuries have taken their toll on the Lightning.
Perhaps the biggest injury was that of Vincent Lecavalier, who was “out indefinitely” in mid-February. Unfortunately, he only played six more games in the season following the injury, a broken right hand. The Lightning leader could have made a huge difference in the outcome, as Tampa Bay was behind Washington/Ottawa by only eight games for a playoff spot.
There’re more, though:
Only eight games out of the playoffs – and with so many games missed at the top of the Lightning’s pecking order. At least optimistically, that could be a recipe for future success.
Of course, the biggest thing will be to get healthy and stay healthy. The Lightning will need to work at getting everyone to maximum health going into training camp to prepare for the 2012-13 season. Some care will certainly need to be taken not to re-aggravate key injuries that plagued the previous Lightning season. The injured athletes should take the necessary steps in the rehab process and not rush back.
However, there is more reason to be optimistic about. The core group of the Lightning will be here, at least according to their contracts (i.e. Lecavalier, Stamkos, St. Louis, Malone, Brewer, Ohlund, etc. all have long contracts). Plus, there is some financial flexibility:
- Key Subtractions: There are a number of unrestricted free agents leaving the roster. This could give the Lightning a chance to get younger, to help the core group stay healthy and improve overall.
- Cap Space: At $60.89 million for the 2011-12 season (cap is $64.4 million), the Lighting certainly have some flexibility under the cap. Once again, getting younger could be a nice option to help manage injuries next year.
The Overall Picture
The Tampa Bay Lighting certainly have been plagued by injuries. Possibly costing them a playoff spot but things will hopefully change for the better next season. There is some cap space and flexibility with the roster to make some trades and signings possible. As the NHL’s worst team in goals against, and two unrestricted free agent goalies possibly leaving the roster (Roloson and Caron), perhaps the Lightning will improve across the board. While this season was painful, literally, the situation looks promising and could be drastically different next season.