It’s a safe bet to say that if a mystical deity had appeared before Tampa Bay Lightning fans on April 10, 2017, the day after the team had concluded their season by winning their final three games and eight of their last 10 to finish one point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and one point out of the playoffs, and promised that the Lightning would have 110 points, be tied for the lead in the Atlantic Division and comfortably slotted into the postseason on the morning of April 6, 2018, everybody would have been okay with it.
As it turns out, that is the exact scenario facing the Lightning, but not everybody is okay with it. That’s because in spite of arriving at this comparatively favorable outcome, the route traveled during the last few steps of the journey has been bumpy.
- They held the top spot in the division all alone and basically unchallenged for six months prior to April.
- They’ve struggled head-to-head (1-3) against the Boston Bruins, unquestionably their most formidable opponent.
- The defense has been a concern all season and hasn’t improved in the second half.
- Consistency of not only production but overall effort against other opponents has been lacking at times.
These things have cast shadows of doubt on the Lightning’s championship prospects. At least compared to the perception held by many back in December and January that Tampa Bay was playing hockey on a level that couldn’t even be understood by other teams, let alone reached. Now popular opinions held by at least some (if not many) are that the Lightning have coasted, easing off the approach that led to success earlier in the season. And/or that they’ve been “figured out”, that other good teams have caught up and surpassed them.
Still, the Lightning find themselves heading into the playoffs where they are, which is in really good shape.
Still, they could have been in even better, really good shape.
Style points shouldn’t matter, but they do. It doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. Unless it does matter.
The next few polls are going to be very straight forward, asking for your playoff predictions. This will probably be the last one asking for your completely subjective opinion on a question of perception. Quite simply:
Are you happy with HOW the Lightning have gotten to where they are this season?
This poll is closed
Yes. The only thing that matters is making the playoffs.
Yes. Compared to not making the playoffs, but I wish they were heading in with some momentum.
Yes. What they’ve done has nothing to do with how well other teams have performed.
No. They should have kept the hammer down, buried everybody else, locked up the division and secured home ice throughout.
No. This stretch run has exposed some serious weaknesses and I have doubts that I didn’t have a few weeks ago.
No. I don’t see them getting past the first round.
Please vote and fire away with your expanded thoughts in the comments.