The Lightning haven’t exactly been on their game lately. They are 1-0-3 in their last four games, collecting five of a possible eight points. What is the difference between that and, say, a 2-1-1 record, which is winning? It’s the same number of points, does it really matter? Of course it does.
A team’s energy is a living organism. It rises and falls with the successes and failures of each shift, each period, each game. It has the ability to turn a team around for the comeback, or let them fold under the pressure. It is the difference between a good locker room atmosphere and last year’s losing Philadelphia Flyers.
Going into the playoffs has little to do with physical state. It doesn’t have much to do with skill either. The most important way to be prepared for the playoffs is in the square-foot of real estate between the ears. Players need to have their heads on right, be focused, and be confident. Staring at a 1-0-3 record isn’t very confidence-inducing, even if it is the same number of points as a 2-1-1 record. It’s not the same mentally.
Physically, the Lightning have little to worry about. While they are looking very mediocre right now, remember that they will get Steve Downie and Ryan Malone back into the lineup by the playoffs barring any setbacks. This will change the look and style of the team, toning up the grit at the time it is needed the most.
Calling it a “win” or a “loss” is important, even if it doesn’t seem so. It changes the attitude of the team, and in the long run that can have a much greater effect than physical health or points. The mind can conquer the body, but you must be in the right state of mind to do it.