21 March 2010
Technically if we can go 10-0-0 we *might* be able to make the playoffs, but logically that just won't happen with a team that has lost 9 out of the 11 games since the Olympic break. When the pressure's on, this team really can bring the suck.
With 10 games left, the question for the Lightning now shifts to whether the Lightning can even finish this season strong. With the different levels of suck that they've doled out over the past week, and the team incoherence that has displayed in the past few weeks, finishing strong seems doubtful for this team.
Our goaltending since the break has been shoddy, minus the few flashes of a good goaltending from Niittymaki, we're right back to where we were last year. Mike Smith who is to make $2.4 million next season, although this year he is not injured, he is not playing like a #1 starter. Each game he plays make it more obvious that the GM will need to make a change whether is be a different set of goaltenders or a someone in the goaltending coaching area if they think he can get his game back.
With that being said, does the Lightning management think that Niittymaki is a true #1 starter? His contract is up and he will be looking for a raise from his $600,000 he got this season. If the Lightning don't think either of those two has the potential for being a consistent goaltender, there are a lot of goalies on the market this season, though that means those will also be question marks since they are being shopped.
Although there has been some bright spots in the defence, like Lundin being a great shutdown defenceman, the defence again this year has just broken down. Hedman, has definitely not made a case for the Calder but has, in perspective of his age, been good in his rookie season. Just because he was picked 2nd in the draft, didn't mean he was going to be able to fix all of the problems on D the Lightning had last year by himself.
This team has been frustrating to watch since coming off the Olympics. The team was in the playoff race and after the break just fell apart. On nights when the team had offense, the Lightning goaltending couldn't stop the puck to save their life. On nights where the goaltending gave them a shot at winning, the offense struggled. And there were a rash of injuries over the past few weeks to add to the misery.
Of course, it really doesn't matter how the Lightning finish off the season does it? In reality all Lightning fans want to see right now is this guy gone:
Tocchet in his head coaching record with the Tampa Bay Lightning is 48-57-26. And if we shift those OT losses, to just losses, his record is 48 wins and 83 losses. Ouch