Tampa Bay Lightning Report Cards: The Defense

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If you predicted the crazy season the Tampa Bay Lightning would have in 2013/2014, I promise you, your talents are being wasted in whatever job you currently hold. With the playoffs upon us, it’s a good time to look back, reflect, and ask ourselves: Did all of that really happen in 82 games?

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What a ride it’s been. It started in last year’s off-season, when Lightning GM Steve Yzerman made a tough choice to buyout the contract of long-time captain Vincent Lecavalier. In November, Steven Stamkos slid awkwardly into a goal-post and wound up missing 45 games with a broken leg. And then, when it finally looked like everything was about to settle down, Marty St. Louis, the team’s heart and soul, forced his way out of town.

If you’re keeping track, the Lightning are on their third captain in the span of a year.

Of course, the year was speckled with other, lesser adversities. From Ben Bishop’s barrage of mysterious injuries to, just recently, Ryan Malone’s DUI and possession of cocaine bust, the Lightning have had their share of distractions.

So now let’s focus in. Let’s go player-by-player through the remaining Tampa Bay Lightning roster, review their season, and grade their performance.

We’ll start with the defense. GM Steve Yzerman was criticized in the off-season for not addressing the Lightning’s defensive issues, but Yzerman, along with his new coach, Jon Cooper, maintained that the Lightning would play defense by way of a five man unit. For the bulk of the year, the Lightning did just that, and the results were impressive. When they got away from it, the holes in their blue line showed through.

Players with a minimum 20 games played are listed in numerical order. Just for fun, I’ll add my pre-season forecasts for each player.