Tampa Bay's one-goal gaming is a problem

The 2009-10 season is in it's third month now and the Lightning have played a total of 25 games so far. 10-7-8... You can find those numbers easily enough in the standings. They're middle of the pack...

Now here's another set of numbers that you should be aware of, and a might find a degree of concern in: of the Bolts last 107 games (we're talking all of last season as well as this season so far), the Lightning have played at total of 52 games decided by one-goal.  52 out of 107.  Last season, the Lightning had a league worst 10-11-18 record in those situations, a horrid .256 winning percentage.  This season, they are not much better, even with a revamped defense, several new coaching specialists, and all the weapons at their disposal.  The Bolts are 4-1-8, with a .308 winning percentage in these situations.  Third worst in the league, in front of only Carolina and Toronto.

It was a given that the Bolts had to improve on their record in one-goal games going into the 2009-10 campaign -- scratching out a few more wins in these close contests would be the difference between making the playoffs and jockeying for draft-position...  And in a way, they have, through 25 games, they have just less than half the win total of all of last season in these situations.

Yet it feels very uncomfortable for the Lightning to be playing it close in perpetuation under Rick Tocchet.  It's also uncomfortable with the fact that goalie MIke Smith is 1-7 in the shootout since the 2008-09 season.  he accounts for five of the 13 one-goal games of the season, going to OT or the shootout in all five contests and ultimately losing..

The silver lining to find in all this is that the Bolts are salvaging points more often by going to overtime instead of losing by one-goal in regulation... Chipping away like this isn't sexy but it could very well put the Lightning over the top and lead them back to the playoffs.

....Or keep them on the outside, looking in, for the third season in a row.