Lightning Must Improve On The Power Play

The Tampa Bay Lightning continues to suffer from a power outage. On Tuesday night at Amalie Arena, the latest outage occurred in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

According to the stat sheet, the Bolts were outplayed in almost every area by the Canes. They were outshot 31-18, and for the first time, this season the Bolts were very poor in the face-off circle as they lost that battle to Carolina 40-21.

Five on five, the Lightning was the better team. Although they generated just 18 shots on goal, the Lightning had the better scoring chances.

It was on the power play where the Lightning failed to generate anything at all. In seven minutes of power play time, the Lightning generated just one shot on goal, and that proved to be one of the big reasons the Lightning lost this game.

You can’t have seven minutes with the man advantage and generate just one shot. The power play has struggled most of the season since Nikita Kucherov went on LTIR. Kucherov may not be back till January.

This is the most significant area of concern on this team right now: the lack of scoring on the power play.

Watching the game on Tuesday night, it looked like the team is back to waiting for perfection. Waiting for the perfect pass, waiting for the perfect look, waiting for the perfect opening.

It is rarely going to be perfect. Good things will happen when you shoot the puck, and that’s what this team has to get back to doing.

Steven Stamkos talked about this team’s frustration regarding their lack of success on the power play. “It’s frustrating in the sense that these are games where we usually win because of our power play in the past. There’ve been times this year where we’re in these tight games where our goalie gives us a chance or our penalty kill gives us a chance, and the power play has a chance to get an extra point. And we’ve been in a few where it hasn’t. That’s the frustrating part because I think we’re leaving points out there.”

He is 100 percent correct. The Lightning is leaving points on the board as a result of their ineffective power play. It’s still early, but you would like to see positive momentum on the power play starting Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning was also dealt more bad news on the injury front. According to head coach Jon Cooper, Erik Cernak went down with an injury and will miss a significant amount of time.

The Lightning has already played most of the season without Zach Bogosian, and now will have to lace up the skates minus Cernak. The Lightning was also without Mikhail Sergachev, serving the second game of his two-game suspension against Carolina.

Ryan McDonagh talked about losing Cernak for the foreseeable future. “He’s a great defender first and foremost. Right-handed shot for us. Plays a ton of minutes. You lose a top-four player like that; it puts a lot of extra minutes on guys. But I thought we handled it pretty well. Coop tries to simplify and help us back there. You look at that picture and find a way to get one point. I think that’s one of the positives out of this.”

With Cernak out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, that opens the door for young defensemen Cal Foote and Frederick Claesson to get some substantial minutes.

Hedman played 30 minutes, McDonagh played 28, and Jan Rutta 23 minutes against Carolina. The Lightning must get good contributions from Foote and Claesson or run the risk of running the top four defensemen into the ground.

The good news is that the Lightning has gotten points in six straight games, going 4-0-2. The Lightning still has two challenging games ahead of them on this homestand. Saturday night, the Bolts will take on the Florida Panthers, followed by a visit from the New York Islanders on Monday.

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