Another hockey season in the books for the Tampa bay Lightning. Success or Disappointment?
Let’s talk about the successes: That this team was able to make it to the eastern conference finals without their No.1 goalie in Ben Bishop and their best player in Steven Stamkos should be considered a success. What other team can you think of that could lose their starting goalie and be without their best offensive player and win the Stanley Cup? I can’t think of any.
–The continued development of Jonathan Drouin. In January no one could have foreseen the contributions that Drouin would make in this playoff run. His skating was strong, puck handling superb, and he also had a couple of key goals. Although he has much to learn, I was pleased with his play and look forward to see what he can do in a full 82 game season.
–Andrei Vasilevskiy. He played extremely well in the conference finals. He made big save after big save and the series would have been over in 4 games if not for his strong play. The future is bright in goal for the Lightning.
The disappointments. — Speed. The Lightning could never quite figure out the penquins forecheck and could never use their speed effectively like we saw during the regular season. Give the Pens credit, they figured out a way to slow down this Lightning team.
–The passing left a lot to be desired. There were very few stick to stick passes. The lack of shots on goal. Too many times the Lightning would go for the fancy pass and set-up instead letting it rip at the net. You have to shoot the puck to score and the Lightning never quite figured this out against the Pens.
–The disappearance of Victor Hedman. Hedman had 2 great series against Detroit and the New York Islanders. Against the Pens he was a disappointment overall, especially in the final 2 games. There was also moments in the series when he was slow to react, and not in the right position to make a big play. The Lightning were counting on him to make a big play or 2 and he did not deliver.
We are all disappointed with the way the season ended. Expectations were high after last years trip to the Stanley cup final. There were 26 other teams that would have gladly switched places with the Lightning. This team has definitely put Tampa on the map as a great hockey town.
As the Penquins and Sharks play for the Stanley Cup, I can’t help but wonder with a healthy Stamkos and Bishop for the Penquin series, if the Lighning would have had a chance to play for the cup again. We will never know. But is sure is fun to dream about.