Could the Lightning move on from Jon Cooper?
It’s official. Jon Cooper is on the hot seat and that seat is getting hotter with every Lightning loss and lackluster performance.
This Lightning team is not playing very well and according to Jon Cooper the main problem stems from the Lightning giving up one more goal than what the Lightning is scoring.
I tend to disagree. There a ton of issues on this team which we will dissect below.
All Lightning fans need to be concerned. This team is in danger of missing the playoffs. This is 2016-17 all over again when the Lightning got off to a slow start and finished with 94 points missing the playoffs.
The Lightning are currently 12-9-4 and are five points out of a playoff spot.
There is no fire in Jon Cooper. There is no fire in the players. The players that show the most emotion are the guys that the Lightning brought in this summer in Pat Maroon, and Kevin Shattenkirk.
How can you have this much talent on a team, be one of the most talented teams in the NHL and struggle every night to score goals and play good defense?
It’s a mystery. Has the team quit on Cooper? Does this team need a new voice in the locker room? If you’re an unemployed coach you are salivating at the chance of coaching a team with this much talent.
There are a myriad of issues on this team and the biggest one is the play of the special teams. The Lightning power play has been hot and cold this season, and the penalty kill has been awful most of the season.
The Lightning is currently third in the league on the power play at 30.4 percent. The Lightning penalty kill ranks 21st in the league at 78.4 percent.
The goaltending tandem of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Curtis McElhinney has been less than average.
As a team, the lightning is the sixth worst in the league in goals against average at 3.29. Vasilevskiy has a 2.96 goals against average, while McElhinney stands at 3.42.
At some point during the season you need your goalie to get hot and steal some games for your team. that has not happened this year.
The Lightning parted ways with last years backup Louis Domingue who has since signed with the New Jersey Devils and brought in Curtis McElhinney from Carolina.
Last year when Vasilevskiy had his injury in early December, it was Domingue who carried this Lightning team as he won 11 out of 13 games in Vasilevskiy’s absence.
The defense has not been nearly as reliable as last year. This is basically the same groups last year with Stralman being swapped out for Kevin Shattenkirk.
The puck handling continues to be awful for a team this talented. The type of turnovers that are happening is alarming, as many of those turnovers have ended up in the net behind the Lightning goaltender.
Penalties. How many “to many men on the ice” penalties have we seen this season? This is just a lack of focus and not paying attention. The Lightning have to get better at these line changes and eliminate these type of penalties.
The message continues to be the same from the Lightning coaches and players, “stay the course, no reason to be alarmed, this is only December, we haven’t played as many games as other teams, our schedule has been very tough and demanding.”
Enough with the excuses. It’s time to start playing like the championship caliber team that the Lightning have on paper.
The schedule will never be easy, there is too much parity in the league now.
Nashville, Minnesota, and the San Jose Sharks will match up against the Lightning these next three games with two of those at Amalie Arena.
It’s never easy, but now is the time for Cooper to show some leadership, and the captains on this team to show leadership and help get this season turned around and headed in the right direction.