The Tampa Bay Lightning came off of a disappointing season going into Training Camp this year. Last year, the Bolts started off with a bang, but unfortunately, things slowly but surely started to fall apart. The team endured a large number of injuries, the defense consistently struggled, and there were many changes in personnel, both on and off the ice.
However, the Lightning head into the preseason with an entirely new attitude. We have a new coach, new prospects, and best of all a brand new attitude. Here are some of my observations from the halfway point in the preseason.
The biggest thing that I have noticed in this newly revamped Tampa Bay Lightning team is their aggressiveness. Players are doing a lot more hitting; even players that you wouldn’t normally expect.
The best part of the whole thing is that it is not just the defense that is getting in on the action. Even players like Martin St. Louis are taking it to the boards.
Another thing that I noticed is that the defense has been much more on point. Now, I have only made it to two games so far in person, but one thing that each of those games had in common is the absence of a traffic cone.
Rather than standing still and watching as the puck flies right past them, the Lightning have been aggressively pursuing the puck and getting in players’ faces when they come charging down the ice.
I have also noticed that one Ryan Malone has seemingly gotten his mojo back. After falling off last season due to multiple injuries, many believed that he was on the trading block, or a candidate for a potential buyout. I get the feeling based on his play thus far that he has made it his mission this season to prove all of the haters wrong.
The prospects have definitely made Lightning head coach Jon Cooper’s job all that more difficult. As you know, it is the coach’s job to trim down the roster until they reach the magic number 23. This is a daunting task when you have so much quality talent in your development system.
Players like Mark Barberio, Tyler Johnson, Brett Connolly, and Jonathan Drouin are all fighting for their spots on the main roster this season. Will they all still be in Tampa Bay when the season opens up on October 3rd? We won’t know that for sure until probably October 1st.
October 1st is also the date that the Lightning are set to announce who will have the “C” put on their jersey next season. We all have our own opinions as to who that person should be. Most people will tell you that it should be either Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis. My personal opinion favors the latter.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have so many things working in their favor so far this season. The new blood on the team seems to be fueling the fire within the team that some of us know was there all along. All they needed was the proper inspiration. There is nothing like a shake up on the bench to provide the proper inspiration.
Do you think the Lightning will be able to carry this momentum into the regular season? Who of the players that are currently fighting for roster spots will still be in Tampa Bay on October 3rd when the regular season opens up? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.