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Tampa Bay Lightning fans, just remember to breathe

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Okay, everyone. Let's all take that collective step back from the ledge and regain some perspective. Things are not quite as dismal as you may think.

The Lightning aren't gunning for first in the East here. The goal is playoffs - that's it. And most people have this team as coming in at 7th or 8th in the East, which is reasonable.

Let's revisit where they've been. In the past three drafts, the Lightning have picked first (2008 - Steven Stamkos), second (2009 - Victor Hedman), and sixth (2010 - Brett Connolly) overall. That means that the team has sucked in a big way the past few years, if you're trying to block that out. I won't go into the traumatic details, but anyone who's followed this team for a while already knows what's happened.

So while the team got off to a strong start this season, they weren't likely to keep it up. The law of averages demands that bad times follow the good. That's just life.

Yes, they've only won one game in their past seven. Yes, they've allowed 15 goals to be scored in their past three games. Yes, team captain Vincent Lecavalier is out for 4-5 weeks with a broken hand. And, yes, Simon Gagne - who was off to a slow start himself - is still out with neck problems. Though, to be fair, Gagne has been back skating the past few days.

But it's not all death, destruction, and despair. It's only mid-November. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather they go through the serious slumps and get the injuries out of the way early in the season than at the end.

Remember, despite being a dysfunctional team last season, they still had a good shot at playoffs. And keep in mind that this season so far isn't anything compared to last season. I'm sure everyone's having flashbacks to then, but it's much, much better. It's just a natural slump in the season, nothing more.

It's okay. Really. They'll make playoffs. And they'll have Vinny and Simon back with a month's less wear and tear on them for it, too. That can only help.

Now all they need is to have Martin St. Louis step up and lead in Vinny's absence without feeling like he's taking Vinny's spot, which he wouldn't be, and they'll be all set to break out of their slump and get things going again.

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