It’s early in the season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are still trying to find their rhythm for the 2023-24 campaign. Currently, the Bolts are sitting at 2-2-2, and have six points through six games. It’s not a disaster start by any means, but it will eventually need to pick up.
And for it to pick up for the Lightning, here are three flaws that need to be improved.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Nobody is perfect
When Shary came over to Tampa from Washington in the offseason, we noted he was a capable goal scorer if paired up with the correct players.
Six games in, and it doesn’t seem like Sheary has been paired up yet with someone to unlock his game. He’s been paired mostly with Michael Eyssimont and either Nick Paul or Luke Glendening. As a bottom-six forward, expectations are tempered for what to expect.
Last season with Washington, Sheary averaged 2.7 shot attempts per game during 5 v 5 play and 13 shot attempts every 60 minutes.
That number is down to just 1.5 shot attempts per game and just 8.5 shot attempts every 60 minutes of 5 v 5 ice time.
Shot attempts are far from everything, but it is a sampling that he has not been as active on the offensive side. He has just two individual high-danger chances, creating one every 31 minutes of ice time. This is compared to the 65 high-danger chances he had last season, one every 15 minutes of ice time.
This could be fine if he were physical on the defensive side. Paul has similar 5 v 5 numbers but has also been credited with seven hits. Sheary has yet to be credited with a hit during 5 v 5 play.
The Hagel-Cirelli-Stamkos Line
On paper, this seems like a dynamic line that would check all the boxes a coach would want in a forward line. But in the three games this trio has been paired together, it has been anything but smooth sailing.
Pick any metric you want, and this grouping is getting put on its heels at an alarming rate. They have given up 31 shots while only generating 10. They have given up 28 scoring chances while only generating 14 of their own. In 28 minutes of ice time together, they have surrendered 11 high-danger chances, roughly one every third shift.
And if advanced metrics aren’t your thing, the group has given up four goals while scoring just two.
The Raddysh-Sergachev Pairing
Speaking of a pairing that is having a rough go of it, the defensive pairing of Darren Raddysh and Mikhail Sergachev is still a work in progress.
The pair have been together for all six games, and while their Corsi number is actually in the positive (89 shot attempts for vs 88 shot attempts against), the baseline numbers aren’t great.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been outshot 54 to 43 while the duo is on the ice. And they have given up eight goals while only generating one.
High danger chances and a handful of other metrics indicate this duo has been a bit unlucky, but some of it has been self-inflicted.
Against Vancouver last week, Sergachev turned the puck over twice in his own zone, leading to two goals. And this duo just isn’t a physical pairing, with just seven hits combined during 5 v 5 play in six games.
The problem is that Nick Perbix has had his own struggles and needs the sheltering of Victor Hedman, so it’s hard to say what Jon Cooper should be looking at for alternatives.