For a team that boasts a whole slew of players capable of scoring goals, the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils Saturday continued an extremely alarming trend. One which needs to be addressed and corrected sooner rather than later, considering playoff hopes hinge upon scoring enough times to give yourself a chance at winning games.
Anders Lindback was relatively solid in net for the Lightning, stopping 16 of 19 shots, including a couple of breakaways. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough, as the team couldn’t convert on any of their 33 shots.
Why the sudden inability to score, especially with future Hall-of-Famer Martin St. Louis coming off a league-leading 60 point campaign last year and the offseason acquisition of former Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula?
Injuries to lots of significant pieces, most notably two-time Rocket Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos, obviously doesn’t help anything. Consider this statistic. His 14 goals in 17 games, prior to suffering a broken right tibia Nov. 11 in Boston, still lead the Lightning nearly 16 games later. Also, with him in the lineup this team averaged just about 3.2 goals per game. Since then, they’re averaging maybe two tallies a game.
Yes, finding chemistry among new linemates takes time, but not like this. Throw out a few five goal outbursts, two of which came on home ice where the Lightning continue to hold a very respectable 5-1-1 record despite missing their alternate captain, and the team’s routinely scoring 0-2 goals pretty much every game. That’s unacceptable, no matter which way you choose to slice it.
Crazy as it may sound, scoring might also improve the Lightning’s horrid road record of late. They’re 1-5-2, dating back to and including a Nov. 12 shootout win in Montreal. No matter what anyone says, teams rarely ever make the playoffs without keeping a close to .500 record away from home.
Do the Lightning have what it takes to maneuver through and win tight games, even on the road? While unknown, the ability to score will at least give them a chance. And that would be a promising sign for Tampa Bay fans everywhere.