April 7, 2012; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone (12) during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. Tampa Bay wins 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

Keys to the Season #8: Health

Apr 04, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier (4) before the first period against Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-US PRESSWIRE

Just about every NHL season, that starts on time, begins with extreme optimism for fans favorite teams.  This year is no different for Bolt’s fans with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  There are many keys to this season that will contribute to a successful season and number 8 on my list is health.  This season, one of the biggest keys will be that the majority of the Lightning roster remain healthy.  Unfortunately, this has been a huge problem in recent years with stars such as Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Victor Hedman, and even Marty St. Louis missing significant time.  St. Louis last season ended his 499 consecutive games played streak after a puck in the face during a practice.  We all know about Mattias Ohlund and his knee injury so we can only hope for the best in his situation.  But for the rest of the team, health will be a huge priority.

It is hard enough to win in this league with a full lineup of everyone healthy; the second you start taking players out because of injuries, team will start to diminish quickly.  If we can look at any positives from this extended lockout, it can be that the Lightning players, especially the veterans such as Lecavalier, St. Louis, Sami Salo, and Ryan Malone will get to start the season extremely fresh and ready to win games.

Health is not only important to have a strong team on the ice, but it is also vital for the development of chemistry.  If players keep getting nagging injuries that force them out of a few games here and there, then lines will be jumbled, and the players will not be able to gel.  Especially at the beginning of the season, the team must be in full force in order for the formation of powerful lines to occur, defensive pairings to understand their partners, and goaltenders to develop a rhythm.  The health of the Tampa Bay Lightning is paramount to a successful season for the Bolts this season and if health is not a problem this year, then I expect a fun season to watch.

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