The Tampa Bay Lightning were unstoppable to start the 2013 NHL season, averaging nearly six goals a game. Now, in the midst of a three-game skid, they have failed to score more than two. With a statistic so baffling, we are forced to ask where the offense has gone. To that, there’s a few answers.
First off, the Lightning began with six of their first eight games played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. If you’ve ever heard the term “home cooking”, it should be no surprise they won five of six games there. Plus, the team won 26 home games just last season, though some came via overtime or a shootout. Either way, they managed to grab that extra point, something which kept them in the playoff hunt longer than expected.
Another thing which was going right for them early had to be their power play, as they had a goal (or more than one) in all but one game. Pretty darn good but teams can’t get used to that success, especially on the road where they have the last change, likely pitting their top guns against the opponents best defensemen.
The Lightning were also getting scoring from everywhere early, whether it be grinders, top liners or even defensemen. Heck, during their 8-3 thrashing of the Winnipeg Jets last Friday, goaltender Anders Lindback recorded an assist. That’s how good things were.
Road trips present different challenges though, and the Lightning’s first extended road trip has proven no different. That’s why it’s probably a good thing head coach Guy Boucher used the time stuck indoors today, due to the nor’easter which dropped tons of snow in Boston, to hold team meetings. While these meetings focused on improving their play, Boucher did point out the team is doing better than last season, as evidenced by two relatively tight, one-goal games heading into the third period. Not bad considering the quality of their opponents and overall sloppy play lately.
Though still clinging to a slim Southeast Division lead, the Lightning must rediscover their offense quickly before things begin spiraling downward. If the team’s looking for a place to stop the bleeding, and start playing up to potential, they should look no further than tomorrow nights match-up with the always dangerous Boston Bruins. Hey, as is often said, there’s no time like the present to improve! Let’s hope this team realizes that, resulting in fans cheering the beginning of a new streak.