Over the past few days I’ve been reading a lot of hockey coverage, listening to a lot of hockey talk, and watching a lot of hockey. Not a bad way to spend a few days if you ask me. Now, the consensus I’ve heard from most people is that the Lightning don’t have much of a shot to make the playoffs this season. I thought about of myself, and I think those people are out of their minds. We aren’t even in the New Year yet and people are counting this team out? Come on. Let’s not be stupid. In this blog, let’s take a look at the reasons I believe will get this team into the playoffs.
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Lightning Are Only 5 Points Back of 8th
Think about this for a second. We are only 5 points back of a playoff spot and it’s only December. I know they always talk about how teams who aren’t in the playoff bracket by December first don’t usually make it, but let’s be realistic. This roster has more talent than the Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. We just have to put together a nice string of games (we just happen to be on a 2 game win streak right now).
I’ve always been a believer that it’s easier to come back from a deficit in the Eastern Conference than in the West. In the west, it’s just a rougher style of hockey that wears teams down. In the East, I feel like talent really plays a bigger part (it’s a more exciting style if you ask me). This Lightning roster has the talent to do some damage.
We have the NHL’s Leading Goal Scorer
It’s not often that the team with the NHL’s leading goal scorer misses the playoffs. In fact, since the lockout, it’s only happened once. That was the year Stamkos and Crosby shared the award and we missed the playoffs. So, does it really count then? My point here is that it’s tough to miss when the playoffs when you have that guy. This league is all about scoring goals and few guys can do it like Stamkos. He has the opportunity to steal games for us each and every time he steps out onto the ice.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel as though his game is really rounding into shape right now. I know his offensive totals have been good all season, but it just seems like things are really working for him right now. He is flying around the ice, hard on pucks and just an all around great player. He is a treat to watch night in and night out.
Marty St. Louis Will Be Back
They say that you need the guy with heart to do any damage in the playoffs. Quote me on this: “There is no player with more heart than Martin St. Louis.” Think about everything he has overcome in his career. Every draft year analysts talk about how a guy is too small to make it in this league and that’s why he won’t be drafted highly. Well, I think St. Louis is an inspiration to all those smaller guys who want to make careers out of being a National Hockey League player. He wears his heart on his sleeve every shift and leaves it all out on the ice.
Wouldn’t it be nice to see this team make another long playoff run for Marty? Few guys in this league deserve it more than he does. When he retires, it will be a very sad day for the Lightning fan base. We should just rip the jersey right off his back and throw it up to the rafters. That’s where it’s headed anyways.
Steve Yzerman is Bound to Make a Goalie Change at Some Point
It just has to happen this season. We can’t continue to throw away games because of terrible goaltending. You know it, I know it, and I sure as heck hope that Steve Yzerman knows it. Once this team gets solid goaltending, the defense won’t look so bad and the offense will look much more confident. It was reported on Twitter that one former NHLer called Tampa’s defense the “worst in hockey.” Now, I’m not denying that there’s work to do here, because there certainly is, but come on, the worst? We have Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer who, when playing well, are two of the better Dmen in the game. You’re telling me that Edmonton’s defense isn’t worse? Let’s get real here. Back to my original point, it all starts with goaltending. When the goalie is playing well, guys like Brewer and Hedman can get back to that confident game.
Even if it’s just a guy like Nabokov until the summer hits, I think this team would make the playoffs. We just need someone who can win us some games down the stretch.
Well, there you have it folks. Please let me know why you think the Lightning will make or not make the playoffs this season. Is there still hope in your mind? I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for reading and have a great day.
Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
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