March 8, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher talks to his team from the bench during a timeout against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Keys to the Season #4: Power Play Must Strike

Nov 14, 2011; Winnipeg, MB, CANADA; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St Louis (26) and Steven Stamkos (91) skate towards the puck during the 3rd period against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Center. Winnipeg wins 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

Two years ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning had a power play that was feared by their opponents.  They had a top five efficiency % in the league and really stepped up in the playoffs where it was scary good.  Unfortunately last season, the power play was at most times, horrendous.  There were many times when the momentum of the game completely shifted because the Lightning would let up a shorthanded goal or fail to move the puck up the ice.  This has to change this season in order for the Bolts to have success because a power play can turn around a game in an instant.

April 7, 2012; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier (4) during the first period against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

When you look at the lineup, there really is no excuse for this team to struggle on the power play.  They have Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, and Ryan Malone just to name a few players.  The main problem seems to be that the team cannot get the puck inside the offensive zone and set up correctly.  This has been the case since the Lightning traded Dan Boyle away but somehow two years ago, everything clicked.  The Lightning need to find the urgency and good fortune to put the puck in the net on a regular basis when they have the man advantage because the power play can hide so many problems that a team has.

People sometimes forget about two years ago, for the first half of the season the Lightning gave up a lot of goals.  They won games however, because of how great they were on the power play.  Success with the extra man can mask so many problems that a team might have which is why it is huge for the Lightning; because there team is not perfect.  The bottom line is when you have the greatest scorer in the game today, one of the premier playmakers, Vincent Lecavalier, and numerous other offensive pieces; you have to find a way to strike when your opponent takes a penalty.  If this does not occur, then the Bolts could struggle again this season.  I think that Coach Guy Boucher will tinker with the power play group and figure everything out putting the Lightning’s power play efficiency up to the top of the NHL once again.

 

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