Lightning must play better with playoffs approaching

Is it time to start worrying about the Tampa Bay Lightning?

With one month to go in the season, the Lightning are floundering. After an impressive 3-2 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, the Lightning was outplayed in every phase of the game in losing to the Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday night.

The second period continues to be the Achilles Heel for this team as they allowed Carolina to score three goals in the second period on their way to the 4-1 win.

The Lightning has fallen three points behind the division leaders Florida and Carolina by three points.

The Bolts have lost eight out of their last 14 and are not playing like they need to with the playoffs fast approaching.

The win one lose won approach has the Lightning spinning their wheels. Coach Jon Cooper would like to see more consistency. “It’s something we have to figure out. We’ve shown glimpses of playing the way we know we can play, and then at times, we haven’t. For me, it’s more about getting our game consistently playing well.”

Captain Steven Stamkos is on long-term IR with a lower-body injury. All indicators are pointing to Stamkos being 100 percent healthy for the playoffs.

Nikita Kucherov is also on the long-term IR and has been all-season. Kucherov is skating but is not close to participating in contact drills.

When Kucherov had his hip surgery in December, the expectation was that he would be back healthy for the playoffs. That seems to be a question mark now with one month to go in the season.

The Lightning is starting to feel the effects of not having Kucherov the entire season and now being without Stamkos for the rest of the season.

It is impossible not to lose two of the best players in the world from your team and expect to maintain the status quo.

Forward Blake Coleman said there is no panic in the room, and the Lightning know what they need to do to get back on track.

“With ten or so games left here, we’ve got to start trending the right way. There’s still no panic in this room. We know what kind of group we have, and come playoff time, we’re going to be ready to rock. But you can’t just flip the switch in the postseason. We’ve got to start building here over the next 10.”

One thing we can all agree on, the Lightning will have to play much better if they are to make a deep playoff run this summer.

The good news is that the Lightning will play five of their next six games against Columbus, Detroit, and Chicago. A good chance for the Lightning to pile up some points and gain some ground on the division leaders.

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