Boucher: Bolts Best Start In History Hides Some Shortcomings
Through 26 games so far this season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are 16-9-1. The Bolts are off to the best start in franchise history, so it’s easy to overlook certain shortcomings. Goals have come often for the team early on. It’s a bit surprising given how often they have been outshot on the score sheet and how anemic their power play has been. In order for Tampa to enjoy continued success they are going to have to put the puck on net with more regularity.
The Lightning have been long touted as a team with impressive offensive fire power. This has been on display so far in 2013. With 73 goals thus far this season, that has definitely been a high point. Of those goals, 47 have been scored at even strength. 15 have been scored with the man advantage and only one has been scored during 5 on 3 play. These struggles were evident even before Steven Stamkos’ injury.
Tampa Bay has been resilient when it comes to scoring and the goals have come easily for the most part. Sometimes that scoring dries up, making the power play that much more important. As of right now the Lightning power play is at 17%, tied for 19th in the league. Lack of shots directly contributes to the anemic power play. Players can’t just shoot nonstop with the man advantage. They do need time to set up. Where the Lightning seem to get caught is waiting for the highlight reel worthy shot to light the lamp. They may be good, but they’re not always going to be that lucky.
Coach Jon Cooper is aware of the problem and is working on getting the team away from being too fancy. He told the Tampa Bay Times:
“Sometimes you get time of possession and you’re almost looking for that perfect play rather than the old fashioned get the puck up to the point and fire at the net and outnumber them down there. “Sometimes you have to convince your guys the goal scored that way is just as effective as the tic-tac-toe, behind-the-back, through-the-uprights (goal). That’s what we’re working on.”
With such a young squad, it’s not surprising that there are still adjustments being made. The Lightning have done so well and players moving in from the AHL are fitting in fantastically. They just need to remember an old adage from the Bolts’ tv analyst Bobby “The Chief” Taylor. It’s never a mistake to put the puck on net. If Tampa can do that with more regularity they will be a truly formidable force.
Feature box photo courtesy of Dinur.
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