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Is it the players, or how they play?

Previously, I supported the work of SteveYzerman. For consistancy, therefore, I must conclude that the roster is, in general, adequate, but how they are playing is not. Adding a goaltender has magnified this: in the most recent games his save percentage has been at the desired level, but the results were carbon copy losses.

But, as we go down the roster player by player and ask, "Can this guy be a part of a deep playoff run team?" the answer is mostly yes.

Are they playing like a playoff team? The answer is clearly no. Putting aside the possibility of ill puck luck in a short season costing them a few points, lets look at what's wrong and how to fix it.

This is a young team. They need reps at the NHL level. Some are fast learners -- others still make that dumb pass, up the center of the ice, off a skate, and back into our zone. Or have the puck three feet from the blue line and try to make a neat play rather than clear the zone. Sound familiar fans?

They may be a soft team - or, more accurately, a team that can be cycled on easily. The Conacher trade (which seems good for both clubs) was because both teams had too many of the same types of player, thus could give up quality for quality -- we may need a couple of more of these moves.

I am willing to assume our goaltending will, given decent coaching, develop. I am appalled that F. Jean wishes to change Lindback's fundamental style, and think goalie coach would be my first staff replacement. Goalie coaches are like pitching coaches, optimise what ya got - some guys throw hard, and some don't. Some guys Butterfly, and some don't. Allaire has had success with one type of goalie only-- other have left him then had success. I though Jeff Reese was the type of coach who would accept what he had, and work on details and consistancy.

We need to reduce the shots against, and enhance the shots for. I would set a target, combined, of six. At 3 each we'd move from the lower third to the upper third of the league (Tiny difference when you think about it, eh?) We need our power play to take advantage of our shooters. We need a thing to focus on in camp, to address our problems for next year, and fix them gong forward. I choose passing.

I think - observing as a layman, that the Lightning are the worst passing team in the NHL. On the tape is all too often in the skates, or even "no one's there". The skill level of our offensive players should allow use to possess the puck for much longer periods during the game. This is our best defence -- we don't have a lot of shut down defenders, but the bad guys can't score if they don't have the puck. Passing is the passer, the receiver being ready and in position to take the pass, and a structure that allows decisions to be made very quickly.

The lightning play a lot of pond hockey -- sometime inspired pond hockey. Chaos is a valid strategy for some teams in some circumstances -- chaos vs precision, think the Philly Broad Street Bullies, vs. the New Jersey Devils. We have the players for a fast skilled puck possession game -- with goalies to erase the lapses since we are trying to limit chances not eliminate them. Points in half the one goal (and empty net) games you've played this year and the division lead and eights sport are both within reach. Does anyone doubt the fact of at least one "dumb turnover" goal in each of those games?

But, cycling back to the title - I think these are mostly mental, not physical mistakes. I like the roster direction. Let's see how well this group can learn to play together. You have to be better than average to make the palyoffs -- that's not a real high bar.

This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.

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