Time for the Lightning to Get it Done
By Patrick Hoffman
For the last six seasons or so, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been one of the NHL's best hockey clubs.
They have gotten a ton of scoring, played well defensively, and have had an elite netminder in Andrei Vasilevskiy. When you add these things up, it should mean that the Bolts should have a Stanley Cup under their belts during this six year run, right?
Wrong. The Bolts have been to a Cup Final, Conference Finals, have been the league's best team and yet, they have not won a Cup during this time.
Last season may have been their most disappointing finish yet. After dominating the league and winning the Presidents' Trophy as the league's best team in the regular season, the Bolts got swept in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Bolts played their worst hockey when it mattered most. After jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead in Game 1, they took their foot off the gas and let the Blue Jackets walk all over them, which is why they got swept.
It's time for the Bolts to cut the crap. This team is too gifted not to have won at least one Cup since the 2013-14 season.
For starters, this team can put the puck in the net at will. With guys like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, and Anthony Cirelli at front, the puck should find the net a ton this season.
Secondly, they have the best goaltender in the league in Vezina Trophy-winning netminder Vasilevskiy. He does nothing but win hockey games and put up sparkling numbers.Speaking of keeping the puck out of the net, this team is good enough defensively to help the rest of the club win lots of games. Last season, they were seventh in the league in goals allowed per game and should Vasilevskiy stay healthy this season, that ranking may get better this year.
The club also has a head coach in Jon Cooper who can flat out coach. He knows how to put lines together, his players love playing for him, and he's done an awful lot of winning since becoming the team's head coach in the 2013-14 season.
When you put all of these things together, you have a team that should win the Cup almost every season. Given the parity in this league, I know that is not sustainable, but the Bolts are that good that they can be a threat every season to win hockey's Holy Grail.
The Bolts just need to go out and do it. They have the talent, they have the experience, and they have all the tools of a Cup-winning hockey club.
It's time for the Lightning to go out and get it done.
Patrick covers the NHL for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave.
He has previously covered the league for WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.