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Atlantic Division Spotlight: Tampa Bay Lightning

February 14, 2022, 1:57 PM ET [14 Comments]
Lucas Neilson
Blogger •Atlantic Division Writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
What was that saying about being struck by lightning twice? Well, whoever it was, I call their bluff and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Steven Stamkos lead Tampa to another cup hoisting bonanza.

All signs are pointing towards a three-peat the way this team is built. There are no real weak spots or flaws on this roster, they have quality top six forwards who contribute nightly, keeping the bottom six hungry for ice time. A lot of Tampa’s success has come from having rock solid defense, they do an outstanding job at keeping most of the high scoring chances to the outside and to a minimum. This allows one of the best goaltenders in the world to be well rested and able to play so many games each season.

With the unfortunate events surrounding Carey Price, Vasilevskiy has taken over the reigns as the best goaltender in the NHL. The last four seasons in the NHL, Vasilevskiy has been in the running for Vezina each and every season (3rd, 1st, 3rd, 2nd) and you can bet he’s going to be in the mix again this season. As of now he’s 25-8-4 with two shutouts and Tampa Bay is about to embark on a big run here as the all star break is behind us and the players are ready to elevate their game and prepare for the playoffs. Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point are going to pickup their production over the next couple of months and elevate this potential dynasty team as we continue the second half of the season.

The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs are both very similar in points/projections, but there is something about the depth of this Tampa team that makes them that much stronger than anyone else in the Division. Actually, it makes them stronger than any team in the entire National Hockey League. The combination of scoring talent, mixed with rock solid defense (Hedman & youngster Sergachev) ice the cake with Vasilevskiy and voila, you’ve got yourself the most well rounded team top to bottom.

Does that mean they can’t be beat? It sure doesn’t. This Tampa team needs to ensure they don’t come into the playoffs feeling too confident, and are too cocky. It could happen and so could a bite in the arse from the one and only, Karma. The way Kucherov was flaunting the cap situation and how they were able to squeeze him into to lineup for the playoffs, left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Truthfully it wasn’t sour at all at first, I thought it was a good laugh…but after about the third or fourth different time in a row you’d see Kuch with another shirt on about being over the cap, it got old.

So perhaps the Karma doctor is waiting to give Tampa a little wink as they exit in the first round?

I wouldn’t count on it.

The Lightning have some excellent depth pieces, and young to boot. It’s hard to say at this point where the careers of Joseph, Barre-Boulet, Raddysh and Katchouk will take them. But one thing is certain, they are learning all the do’s and don’ts from a powerhouse of a team who knows how to win and what it takes to get the job done. They are playing in depth roles as of now, but it won’t be long before they force the coach’s hand and give them a bigger role. Who’s your pick of the four to breakout?

As Tampa prepares for their third Cup hoisting in a row, offensively they will only have Palat as a UFA next season, and Joseph as an RFA. Defensively they will have Rutta and Claesson as UFA’s, as well as Brian Elliott. It’s not like this team is going to be gutted at seasons end, even Corey Perry signed for two seasons and Patty Maroon just inked two more seasons as well.

Hate to say it, but this Tampa Bay team could be in the middle of their Stanley Cup renegade. Two more Cup victories solidifies a true dynasty team.

Could Tampa do it again? And again?

Thanks for reading, have a great week.
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