5 Reasons Why Tampa Bay Lightning Will Make Playoffs
Tampa Bay Lightning Will Make Playoffs: 5 Reasons Why
The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to their best season start in franchise history with 28 points in the first 19 games. This surpasses the previous high of 27 points set back in 2003, when the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. Before the 2013 season began, most analysts and experts around the NHL didn't give much thought into the Lightning being able to contend in the newly named Atlantic Division. However, with the Lightning being able to take advantage of an early season extended home-stand and now holding a perfect record of 7-0 against the Western Conference, the Lightning have been able to prove otherwise.
Although still early, the Lightning have shown its clearly not going away anytime soon. Even when losing superstar scorer Steven Stamkos, the Lightning responded to its largest adversity of the young season by winning the next two games without him. This team has the pieces in place to make a run at a "magical" season, similar to the one back in 2011 where Tampa Bay reached the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals. The true test for the Lightning will be to find a way to sustain the success moving forward because, though the expectation is Stamkos will make a return at some point this season, there’s a good chance that won’t be until late February or even into mid-March.
If the Tampa Bay Lightning want to continue its success, it will have to carry over momentum from the great season start beginning tonight when Tampa Bay enters its toughest stretch of games yet on the West Coast. Most people around the league will continue to doubt the Lightning, however, Tampa Bay will reach the playoffs because of these reasons.
Head coach Jon Cooper has no doubt lit a fire under the Lightning in this early season. Cooper has won at every level he has previously coached and is now showing why he belongs in the NHL. Another important factor to keep in mind: Cooper already has established chemistry with most players on the team from his time coaching in Tampa Bay's minor league system with the Syracuse Crunch.
A major problem that has just plagued the Lightning season after season is solid goaltending. This year, Tampa Bay has seemed to have found its in goalie Ben Bishop. Leading the NHL in wins, the Lightning believe Ben Bishop is the real deal and will continue to carry the load. The Lightning also believe they have a solid backup in Anders Lindback, who continues to develop.
Rookies and young talent can be found all throughout the Lightning lineup, and they are showing they belong in the NHL. Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik, to name a few, are some unexpected players really helping the Lightning so far.
With the departure of Vincent Lecavalier in the offseason, some people questioned the leadership of this Lightning team. Marty St. Louis, the new-found captain, had led the Bolts and continues to show no sign of slowing down. Veterans in Ryan Malone, Valtteri Filppula and Eric Brewer also will continue to help the Lightning.
Atlantic Division Competetion
Competing in the Atlantic Division is no easy task with elite teams such as the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. However, facing competition like this throughout the season could end up helping the Lightning as they compete for a playoff spot.