With the conclusion of last night's drubbing at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers -- completing their season sweep of the Lightning, and having outscored them 22-7 over that four-game season series -- I finally got away from optimism for the season and decided to be realistic.
The Lightning aren't as close to the playoffs as the standing show. The last four games have proved it -- as the Lightning have fallen to teams contending for the lower playoff seeds. In Spectacular fashion, too.
Some will blame the coach, others play the makeup of the team outside of key cogs. Whatever the case, things cannot stand as they are. The situation is not going to be cured, and the inconsistency miraculously erased.
The Bolts need to invest long-term, as painful as that is to swallow. I'm not saying "fire-sale", but getting rid of the "buyer" stance for the team and selling off free-agents-to-be would be wiser than an ill-fated binge spending for a one-and-done playoff push.
20 games, 40 potential points to be had an a team that will likely gain 15-20 of them with their rate of consistency. That's if the status-quo holds. Coaching won't change with the deadline, the chemistry of the team will...
And likely things aren't going to improve that muchw ith players brought in.
There are assets to listen to offers for though, and I'm not talking about Alex Tanguay, who is the most mentioned player-dump that has been repeated for the entirety of the season (he's not"trade bait" with how often fans sully him and play down value). The Bolts are going anywhere and nowhere on Antero Niittymaki, a free-agent to be who has performed well and makes only $650,000 this season.
This makes him the most affordable, best answer for the real playoff contenders, like the Chicago Blackhawks or the Philadelphia Flyers who have been after goaltending help and do not have much cap-room to play. Of course, it comes downt o what the Lightning could get in return in a move like this.
He has the most value and is the most valuable asset the Lightning could move in the hours ahead.
It would be a concession of the season, of course, and that hurts. But I'd rather realistically look at the inconsistency and reality fo the Eastern Conference playoff race than pipe-dream about contention. I'd rather start addressing the changes of the off-season to come now than to put them off until a drop-dead date in two weeks when the Lightning have played themselves out of contention.