It’s like beating a dead horse, but the Tampa Bay Lightning deserve way more respect than they’re actually given.
For starters, this team has lots of young, talented players. Guys like Alexander Killorn, Richard Panik and Radko Gudas who all won a Calder Cup with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate last season, the Norfolk Admirals. They then began this season with the Syracuse Crunch, putting up good numbers before being called up.
The Lightning also boast two of the NHL‘s best point producers in Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Stamkos’ 36 goals are one behind Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin in the Rocket Richard trophy race, while St. Louis’ 41 assists tie Pittsburgh‘s Sidney Crosby. Both sit only four points behind Crosby in the Art Ross trophy race as well.
Defensively, Victor Hedman and Sami Salo bring stability to the Lightning’s blue line. Their plus-10 and plus-6 ratings prove that.
There’s even hope in net, as the recently acquired Ben Bishop was signed to a two-year contract earlier today. If Anders Lindback can perform the way he did prior to spraining his ankle last month, there’s reason to think the Lightning might again be playoff contenders.
However, that doesn’t mean much to those who cover the NHL. They instead choose to laugh at the Lightning’s lack of success, mock their defensive system and ridicule their fan base (the same one that sold out every game prior to April 2 this season).
Personally, I believe there’s plenty of reasons for the Lightning to be respected league-wide. From their superstar forwards to young rookies, and what looks like a goaltending plan, this team looks to have everything it takes to be a contender here pretty soon.
Is that enough to earn them respect? While it should be, don’t count on it!