Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recent Thoughts and Curious Trends

Okay, so I've had a hard time keeping up with the losses lately, and I'm suddenly wondering what the Tampa Bay Lightning have in the big picture, concerning their on-ice squad.

Clearly they got a lot out of what they had last year. Perhaps last year they got more than they should have out of what they had. Perhaps this year they are get less than they should out of what they have.

But what do they have?

They have no goalie of the present.They have a backup (Garon) starting the lion's share of games because they are afriad to put the starter (Roloson in net). Both are dead ends.

They have very little, long term on the blueline. Is there anyone on the defensive side of the puck that makes you say "championship"? Is there anyone that you can see making a major impact here two seasons from now? Even Victor Hedman is looking like an unsafe bet for future dominance, as he recovers from another concussion.

At forward? As they have been for so long, they are top-heavy, and they have been very, very lucky that the bloom of injuries the team has been dealing with has not affected the "big three" more than it has. Martin St. Louis missed five games and it seemed like disaster. Players like Malone and Downie and Purcell chip in, but cannot carry the team through bad stretches, like the one the team is in now.

Their recent 0-5-1 streak has led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference basement, with 38 points, good for fourth last in the NHL. They are within spitting distance of a top two or three spot entering the draft (they would have to implode way worse than this to beat Columbus to League worst).

So let's take the long view: the team has stuff. With fire in their guts and a few different pieces, they were able to make a late run last year, they are clearly not going to make a late run this year. They are now closer to last in the NHL (nine up on the Jackets 29) than they are to eighth place in the East (ten out). Let's quietly accept where this is going and just hope for some entertaining hockey while we ride the rest of this season out.

Wow. I guess I just gave up on the Lightning for this season. What a punch in the guts. And yet, I feel so free.

Look, the Bolts aren't going to contend for the Cup, so let's not get too bent out of shape over this. They probably aren't even really going to push for the playoffs, so let's just wait for the high pick, shall we?

And to the current roster, it's nothing personal. I hope to see many of you hoist the Cup in a Lightning uniform, but mathematically it's hard to see that happening this year, so let's not get too emotionally wrapped up in it all, okay?

Damn, what's left now? What? Pittsburgh tomorrow? Hell yeah, I'm in. High draft picks can be damned come game time. Let's see some goals, boys. And Garoloson? Try to hold them to four, okay?

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