All it takes is a run.
One run, and a team is back in the thick of things in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Look at the 2006 Edmonton Oilers. Not really a much of a factor in the 2005-06 season, the team finished eighth in the Western Conference. Then, out of nowhere, they eliminated the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1990. In the Finals, they gave the Carolina Hurricanes all they could handle before bowing out in seven games.
This Tampa Bay Lightning team are much better than that Oilers squad.
Yes, this team is 11-11-3, but it's only the second month of the season. This team has too much talent to miss the playoffs. In fact, I would be willing to eat my hat if the Bolts aren't in their third straight playoff berth come the spring.
Wool tastes nice sometimes.
"Just one switch, and that's putting the Stanley Cup finalist Lightning back in the mix. They've won three in a row and there's zero chance they don't make the playoffs; there's just too much talent there. I think they've turned the corner, too."
There are many fingers to point at when it comes to why the Lightning haven't exactly exploded out of the gate. Steven Stamkos hasn't struggled as much as Sidney Crosby has this year. In fact, last night against the New York Islanders, Stamkos had two assists in Tampa's loss at home against a so-so Islanders team. With 11 goals and 19 points this year, Stamkos is not doing as good as years gone by, but should be able to pick up the pace as the season goes by.
Some could say that it's Ben Bishop's fault, but in truth, it is not. Despite posting a 9-8-2 record, the netminder has posted a .926 saves percentage and a 2.04 goals against average in 19 games. He's definitely doing his part in keeping this team going through the rough stretch.
The problem with this team is how the other players are contributing offensively.
The team's power play also not lightning the world on fire either. Right now, the Lightning are not taking advantage of their chances to put the puck into the net when they have a man advantage. As of today, Tampa Bay ranks 22nd in the NHL in power play.
Steven Stamkos told the Tampa-Tribune on Saturdayhe is not pleased with these results.
"How many more wins could we have had this year if our power play could score a goal?,’’ asked rhetorically. "It boils down to the power play being terrible. It’s not even the goals, it’s killing momentum. It’s not fun. It’s even more frustrating when you know you have the skill set and you know that when it’s on it can be one of the best in the league, which it should be. That’s the frustrating part.’’
There's no question that the Lightning will pick up steam and go on a run. And with the news that Montreal goaltender Carey Price is out for 6 weeks, it's a chance for Tampa Bay to go on a run and reclaim their spot atop the Atlantic Division.
They've got a chance to go out and prove it Wednesday night against the Ducks.