If I had a crystal ball, maybe I could predict the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning next season.
After finishing a disappointing fourth place in the Southeast Division and fourteenth out of fifteen teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference in the strike-shortened 2012-2013 season, you would think that the Tampa Bay Lightning can only get better.
With the buyout of the contract of longtime center and team captain Vincent Lecavalier, the Lightning are moving forward with an offensive core of veteran right wing Martin St. Louis, promising and proven young center Steven Stamkos and newly drafted forward Jonathan Drouin.
Although the Lightning failed to meet expectations last season, St. Louis and Stamkos both made the most of the shortened campaign in terms of offensive production. St. Louis led the league in both points (60) and assists (43). Stamkos finished second to St. Louis in the points race with 57, coming from a well balanced effort of 29 goals and 28 assists. Clearly, those were fantastic individual efforts by both players in just 48 regular season games – but hockey’s a team sport – and both Marty and Stammer would be the first to say that individual accolades mean nothing.
And don’t forget the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, Jonathan Drouin who looks to make an immediate impact in the NHL after a solid campaign with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Ontario Hockey League and playing for Canada in the World Junior Championships during the 2012-2013 season.
Here are two questions that the crystal ball can’t answer. Will the Lindback – Bishop tandem bring us prosperity between the pipes? And will the Lightning defensive corps get better, nastier, and shut-down opposing scorers in a manner that takes us to the playoff promised land?
Take the poll and let us know if you think that the Lightning are playoff-bound in 2013-14.