The NHL Lockout is, pending ratification, over. Players are making their way back to their respective teams, even holding informal practices, while management scrambles to find out details regarding training camps and such. All looks normal but, make no mistake, it’s far from it as a shortened season’s sure to affect every team.
How will such a season impact the Tampa Bay Lightning?
First, the Lightning will have to bond quickly. This could be tough given the number of new acquisitions and the fact training camp probably only lasts a week. The good news here is that many of those new faces have been a part of informal workouts off and on in Brandon since September.
Another thing the Lightning must worry about is conditioning. With a (likely) 48 game schedule, the team will be playing at least four times a week. If players aren’t properly conditioned injuries or losing streaks can happen. Last season that was part of what cost the team a playoff spot, as they lost over 300 man games to injury and suffered a couple of prolonged losing streaks. This season there’s so little room for error, or even injury, because that could end up costing the team a chance at the postseason.
Finally, the Lightning must make certain they’re focused on the task at hand. Basically, this means while they can celebrate the team’s 20th Anniversary season they can’t forget what they’re getting paid to do. Now, I’m not saying they shouldn’t enjoy it–they should–but they also can’t lose sight of their main goal of making the playoffs.
Either way, this is sure to be a good, fun and interesting season for the Lightning. If they can work most things out during their (likely) week-long training camp the playoffs could be more than just a pipe dream. Meanwhile, stay tuned for a season preview which should be released later this week.