Is this group better than a 10th place team? You bet it is. This season hasn’t started off as planned for the high powered Lightning. Whether mired in goaltending issues, defensive woes or a 1-3-1 “scandal” or sorts, the Lightning have yet to get on a nice run. Like a lot of teams, consistency seems to be the main issue here; specifically, defensive consistency.
Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer are the two guys that were really expected to step up when news broke that Mattias Ohlund would be out for a while. Neither guy has done so with Brewer regressing from last year’s form and Hedman seemingly stuck in a development slump.
Understandably, this team is going to give Hedman all the time in the world to develop. He was a number two draft pick for a team that desperately needed to bolster its back end. But now, in his third full season with the Lightning, Hedman needs to show signs of being that top guy they envisioned. Look at what Adam Larsson has been able to do for New Jersey; I’d just like to see some signs of that out of Hedman. At this point, he is on pace for his worst offensive year in his young career. That’s not the kind of thing fans want to see moving forward.
Then you have Eric Brewer. Last season, under Boucher’s style, Brewer was able to thrive in Tampa. In fact, one could go as far as saying that he was one of the most valuable guys in the playoffs for the team. This season, we’ve seen a different Brewer. He has been unspectacular in both ends of the rink. Now, Brewer was never the offensive dynamo type, but he was always good at making that first pass. We haven’t seen that this year. With the team sitting where it is in the standings, it would be hard to bench your number one defenseman in an attempt to move up, but something needs to be done.
These two defenseman really make up the core of the defense moving forward. If the Lightning are going to have any success going forward, these two are going to have to take big leaps forward in their play. Guy Boucher is well aware that defense wins championships. Defense and goaltending took them on a nice little run last season. Hopefully these two guys can figure things out quickly or it may be too late.
The next two weeks are incredibly important for this team. There is a mix of opponents that should challenge every facet of our roster. I’ll be back to update on those games as we get closer to the time.
Thanks for reading and have a good evening.
Follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93