Overpassing. Lack of urgency. Defensive breakdowns. These are all words to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s special teams play, which didn’t hold up their end of the bargain in Tuesday night’s close 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Valtteri Filppula notched his 20th goal of the season late, Ben Bishop made one big save after another, but none of it mattered thanks largely to a subpar penalty kill and horrendous power play.
Granted, this isn’t all new. While down a man, the Lightning impressively came into today riding a 12 game kill streak. Before that, however, they allowed the opposition to score with the man advantage almost at will. So even though this could just be an isolated incident I’m still a bit alarmed, and rightly so with the team gearing up for what could be an exciting final couple of months.
That brings me to their real glaring weakness, the power play. For a team boasting multiple weapons offensively, whether it be Martin St. Louis, Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman and even Steven Stamkos, their tendency to overanalyze things is enough to make a lot of people feel like pulling their hair out.
Right now operating at 16.8 percent, the Lightning’s man advantage ranks tied with the Detroit Red Wings in the bottom half of the league. That’s unacceptable no matter which way you choose to slice it.
Can the Lightning turn around their special teams fortunes, or are they destined for more of these close but no cigar type of games? Unknown as it may be, Tampa Bay’s hopes of possibly going deep into the playoffs hinges upon their ability to make teams pay for mistakes while limiting their opponents prime scoring chances. Easier said than done given their recent woes.