It’s easy for Tampa Bay Lightning fans to look at a win like the Bolts had last night and go “meh.” Tampa won 6-0 over a lifeless San Jose Sharks team that has yet to win a game in seven tries this season.
But head coach Jon Cooper made the point after the game that even though San Jose is bad by NHL standards, they are still a team comprised of NHL players.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Every win counts
We noted prior to the game just how bad San Jose has been to start the 2023-24. The Sharks are winless not just because of some “bad bounces” but because they are at the bottom of the NHL in almost any advanced metric one wants to look at.
Cooper was asked after the game about what the mindset is when playing a team that is on pace for a historically bad season.
"“This is the National Hockey League. And I’m a big believer that if you don’t come prepared to play, anybody can beat you. We’ve been at home for a week or so and we’re trying to build our game. (Just) because a team comes in winless, it doesn’t change how you have to approach. It’s whether you’re playing a team that hasn’t won a game or hasn’t lost a game, you should still have that same approach. I thought we did tonight and that’s a good sign for us as we move forward.”"
To his point, the worst player in the NHL is still the best player on the bulk of AHL rosters. The worst player on an AHL roster could show up to a local beer league game and have a hat trick before the first intermission.
The actual margins between the best and worst teams in the NHL are so small that beating a team 6-0 is an accomplishment, no matter how bad of a season they are having.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will have higher bars to clear this season, and it was only two points in a season where they will need to get at least 94 to make the playoffs.
But if Tampa can keep the same process going forward that they had against San Jose, it is a positive sign as the season gets ready to move into November.