Can the Tampa Bay Lightning Defy the Odds?

As with any sport, there are always two sides to the game. Take hockey for example; there is the on-ice portion, which is what most fans are concerned with. Then you have the numbers; this is the part the analysts see.

April 4, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis (26) is congratulated by teammates center Steven Stamkos (91) and defensemen Radko Gudas (75) after his 3rd period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC center. The Lightning defeat the Hurricanes 5-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Bodog Sports Book has released what it believes to be the official odds of winning the 2013-14 Stanley Cup.

The question now posed to the Bolts Nation is ‘Can the Tampa Bay Lightning Defy the Odds?’

According to Bodog Sports Book, the Tampa Bay Lightning has a 50/1 chance of winning the Stanley Cup next season.

Now, this is by far not the worst odds; that honor was taken by the Florida Panthers with odds of 150/1. However, it is not near as highly ranked as the Chicago Blackhawks whose odds are 6/1.

Here is a look at the complete list courtesy of Bodog Sports Book.

Odds to Win the 2014 Stanley Cup
Chicago Blackhawks 6/1 Philadelphia Flyers 28/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 13/2 New York Islanders 33/1
Boston Bruins 10/1 Ottawa Senators 33/1
Los Angeles Kings 12/1 Carolina Hurricanes 40/1
St. Louis Blues 12/1 Colorado Avalanche 40/1
Detroit Red Wings 16/1 Columbus Blue Jackets 40/1
Vancouver Canucks 16/1 Dallas Stars 40/1
San Jose Sharks 18/1 New Jersey Devils 40/1
Edmonton Oilers 20/1 Nashville Predators 50/1
Minnesota Wild 20/1 Tampa Bay Lightning 50/1
New York Rangers 20/1 Winnipeg Jets 50/1
Anaheim Ducks 22/1 Phoenix Coyotes 66/1
Montreal Canadiens 25/1 Buffalo Sabres 100/1
Toronto Maple Leafs 25/1 Calgary Flames 100/1
Washington Capitals 25/1 Florida Panthers 150/1

The Lightning always seem to fit somewhere in the middle when it comes to the analysts. Some speak very highly of the team, especially when players like Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are the topic of consideration. On the flip side, you have analysts that no matter how well the Lightning performs never have anything nice to say. (You guys know who you are.)

If there is anything that the Tampa Bay Lightning are good at, it is defying the odds.

When the Lightning began their journey in 1992, they were the new guys. They were a little team from the Sunshine State, of all places, who were trying to make their way into greatness. No one, except for those of us here in the Bolts Nation, thought that a team hailing from a place where frozen ponds and outdoor hockey simply doesn’t exist had a chance at achieving glory. Enter the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning.

In 2004, 12 years after the team’s inception, the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to overcome all the odds, and captain Dave Andreychuk was able to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports high above his head.

Fast forward to the 2010-11 season. Six years later, while in one of the biggest reconstruction periods in Tampa Bay Lightning history, our boys in blue were able to band together and compile a record of 46-25-11 with 103 points. Knocking out the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and sweeping the Washington Capitals, who were the top seeded team at the time, only to fall within one goal of the Stanley Cup Finals.

To some, this may not look like much of an achievement, but for a team that had lost so much in such a short period of time, who fought it out on the ice with all their hearts to have come so far, that is a tremendous achievement in my book.

Here we are now, almost at the start of the 2013-14 NHL season. Once again, we are going through a number of changes; a new coach, a soon-to-be-named new captain, and a new outlook for the team.

Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman has been in favor of nurturing our young talent and bringing them up to the big game in lieu of trading for the bigger names free agents on the market.

Apr 7, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) celebrates with Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (75) after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing up players like Radko Gudas, Richard Panik, and Tyler Johnson (just to name a few) were a huge help to the Lightning last season, who was unfortunately plagued with injuries during the season.

While Radko Gudas has already been brought up to the main roster for next season, once Training Camp rolls around, I have a feeling there are going to be a few more names to add to the list of players moving from the Syracuse Crunch to wearing Lightning Blue next season.

As things stand right now, we have center Steven Stamkos on the front line. There are currently two solid options for line mates for the Canadian sniper. First, you have the veteran right winger Martin St. Louis. Then, there is the newcomer, left wing Jonathan Drouin.

While no one, except for maybe Yzerman, knows for sure if Drouin will indeed be on the main roster next season, if I had to bet, I would say you will see his name on the back of the Lightning jersey in the 2013-14 season.

Now, either of those wingers would make viable options for a line mate for Stamkos. Both of them are creative players who have a unique ability to make a play happen where there wasn’t one before. However, it is well documented that Stamkos and St. Louis make a powerful combination. Last season, Stamkos came within 3 goals of winning his third “Rocket” Richard Trophy with 57 goals. Martin St. Louis became the oldest player to win the Art Ross Trophy with 60 points. If that doesn’t prove the scoring power of their pairing, I don’t know what will.

May 4, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Valtteri Filppula (51) skates with the puck in the third period against the Anaheim Ducks in game three of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

So that leads me to our newest center, Valtteri Filppula. Last season with the Red Wings, Filppula hit quite a slump; scoring 9 goals and 8 assists for a total of 17 points. This is a far cry from the 66 points he put up in the 2011-12 season.

However, if Filppula is able to spring board out of that slump and get back to the Filppula that captivated the fans in Detroit in 2012, we may be in for quite the show; especially if you add someone like St. Louis or Drouin to his line to feed him the puck.

While there are still some kinks to be worked out on the defensive side of the ice, there is still plenty of time left in the off-season for the Bolts to get everything in place for the new season. As I mentioned before, the addition of Gudas to the defensive line will add some much needed grit, and someone who is far from afraid to get in someone’s face and push back. This is something that has plagued the Lightning for some time now.

The ultimate reveal will come once Training Camp opens up. Then we will get our first real look at what we have in store for us next season.

Some may have their doubts, and that is understandable. However, I think the changes that Yzerman has been making to the lineup are due to payoff this season.

In addition to him nurturing the spectacular young talent that we have in the Syracuse Crunch, those players have the opportunity to be brought up to the big league with a Head Coach that is already familiar with their strengths and weaknesses, and are already familiar with a majority of his systems.

This makes for an easy transition, and an easy transition leads to more production on the ice.

Do you think the Tampa Bay Lightning have what it takes to defy the odds this season? Can we turn 2014 into 2004 and bring home the greatest trophy in all of sports? We’ll have to wait and see, but my money is on yes.

 

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Topics: Jonathan Drouin, Martin St Louis, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Valtteri Filppula

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