On Thursday, 14 March, Tampa Bay Lightning’s American League affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, won their 16th consecutive game. Tonight, they go for #17 against the Charlotte Checkers. If the Admirals are able to defeat the Checkers in North Carolina, they will tie the AHL record for longest consecutive win streak. Quite the amazing feat, but also a glimpse into the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Admirals have been able to accomplish this run behind solid goaltending from Dustin Tokarski and now Jaroslav Janus (while Tic plays with the big boys), good defensive play, and a powerhouse offense. Of course, the majority of the Admirals roster are Lightning prospects, some of which have received the call up to play with the Bolts this season, including everyone’s favorite frequent flyer, D Evan Oberg.
Bolts Nation has already had the chance to see Mike Angelidis, Pierre-Cedric “Nacho” Labrie, Evan Oberg, and Trevor Smith don the Tampa Bay Blue, but there are even more talented future stars awaiting their chance to make it to the big show. With how well the aforementioned skaters have performed during their time on NHL ice, I am more than excited to watch Cory Conacher, Radko Gudas, Tyler Johnson, and Mark Barberio get there chance to shine. A chance I feel will happen next season for some if not the season after.
The current and continuing success of the Admirals is the direct result of General Manager Steve Yzerman’s vision for the Lightning Organization, to build depth for long term success. For years the Lightning Depth was about as deep as a dresser drawer, now it is more like the Marianas Trench. Couple that with the plethora of draft picks for the 2012 NHL Draft, things are looking well for the Lightning now and for years to come.
Years to come. That is what we fans need to focus on. Certainly this season has been considered a bit of a let-down after last year’s surprising playoff run to the Eastern Conference Final, but I have viewed this season as a preview of things to come. The type of year we are having (minus the injuries) is what I expected last year, but we are having this up and down season now. As a result of that, it has given us the chance to see the near future of the Tampa Bay Lightning and if you ask me, the future looks good.
You can catch the Norfolk Admirals game on the radio here. 7P Eastern Time
– Jim Courteau