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THUNDERSTRUCK! Lightning year in review


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mcfRvVWKq2zREDFrV1gT0uA.jpgPRESEASON OUTLOOK: Lots of kids mixed with Stamkos and the resigning of Callahan gave hope that the Bolts would contend for the division and more importantly for the cup.


FINAL RECORD: 50-24-8 108 points second in Atlantic. Defeated Wings, Canadiens and Rangers before losing SCF to the Hawks


HIGH POINT OF THE SEASON: The Bolts pushed the Hawks hard, actually taking a two games to one lead in the series. That had to be the high point although the season was filled with them.


LOW POINT OF THE SEASON: Down two games to one to Detroit and down two goals late in the third to Detroit, it looked like it would be an early out for Tampa. Of course, Tyler Johnson turned the tide and the Bolts went on to win the series. And the next one. And the next one.


WHAT WENT RIGHT: Start with the Triplets,mdA_uGKtTZLJLdcfgHIgNLw.jpg Tyler Johnson established himself as a star, with Kucherov and Palat putting up damn good numbers on his wings. Stamkos had 43 goals and was solid all year. Ryan Callahan was as good as advertised. Victor Hedman established himself as one of the top d-men in the game. Anton Stralman was as good or better than advertised. Brian Boyle may have been the best fourth liner in hockey. Ben Bishop went 40-13-5.  In the postseason Johnson led all scorers with 13 goals. Brayden Coburn was solid after he came over from the Flyers. Killorn established himself nicely, especially in the postseason.


WHAT WENT WRONG: Val Filpulla was soft all year, put up okay numbers but was a minor disappointment. Drouin was awful, looking lost at times and scoring only 4 goals. Matt Carle was okay at best. In the postseason Stamkos faded badly and Callahan was a complete non factor.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR: Kucherov, Palat, Filpulla and Killorn between then scored 72 goals but had an anemic 8 of them on the power play. Secondary PP scoring was pretty much non existent. 


MVP: Stamkos. 43 goals and led the team in most every offensive stat. And while he has been ripped for his postseason, he wasn't that bad, 18 points in 26 games.



Brendan Morrow. That is it.



 Andrej Vasilevskiy may be the top goalie prospect about to hit the NHL. How much time he steals away from Bishop is the question. He will be pushed by Kristers Gudlivskis who is a heck of a prospect himself. Slater Koekkoek is ready to step in on the back end. Other than that, not a lot that is NHL ready. With zero free agents of note, they do not have a lot of holes anyway.



Ben Bishop was very solid with two game 7 shutouts but does he get pushed possibly out by the kids? Is Drouin a bust or was last season just growing pains? Will they suffer a hangover from the long postseason?

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Anyone who watched any Lightning games this year has to admit that this team and their fans have a lot to look forward to though. My opinion is going to be biased, of course, but I say that while making an honest attempt to keep the bias at bay.


-Stamkos is the face of the franchise and is (recently) 25. He has plenty of time to get the whole Captain thing down pat even though he already does a decent job at keeping his guys motivated. Once Jon Cooper figures out how to use him properly, Stamkos could become and even bigger weapon than he already is. Now that he has been a part of a deep playoff run, he has no excuse for putting up numbers like he did in this years final against the Hawks.

-Tyler Johnson single-handedly showcases the speed that the Lightning play with. Seeing some of the loose pucks he scrambled past opposing players for and opening more scoring opportunities his team makes him a dangerous asset. He's also young and can only get better. The only reason he slowed to a stop in the finals is because of his broken wrist he was playing with, credit the Rangers.

-The Rangers shot themselves in the foot with their whole "trade of the captains", Ryan Callahan for Marty St. Louis. If St. Louis hasn't announced his retirement yet it's coming shortly. He contributed numbers for the Rangers but ironically Callahan's team knocked them off. The Lightning still have Callahan for a few more years and I'm sure he will put up decent numbers. I saw him create quite a few breakaways during the playoffs which I like. Whether or not he capitalized is another story.

-Bishop vs. Vasilevskiy. There were a few times Bishop left me scratching my head and yelling profanities at the TV but it's not all his fault. It just took me a while to realize that Tampas defense collapses from time to time, probably because they're so aggressive while getting the puck into their offensive zone. Bishop is solid and Vasy proved that he's more than capable of coming in and making stops. He's beyond young, came into a playoff atmosphere and made stops on a night Bishop allowed 5 goals for the Rangers. Granted he gave up one, he just needs to work on controlling those rebounds.


I only touched on a few key points of a long list of things here. Most of the Lightning players are young and will be around for at least another year. This team can take everything they've learned from this year and apply it next year. I truly think Lightning fans are in for another wild ride next season and maybe a few more in coming years.

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