Monday, October 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tracking the Lightning’s playoff gains and losses

The Lightning's deep playoff runs haven't resulted  in a Cup win, but they have produced valuable lessons.

2014-15

Lost to the Blackhawks in six games in the Stanley Cup final.

Key acquisitions: Anton Stralman (D), Brian Boyle (C), Brenden Morrow (LW).

Gained: A valuable learning moment; the run was unexpected after the Lightning was swept by Montreal in the first round in 2014. Chicago's experience led it from 2-1 down in the Cup final to its third Cup in six seasons.

Lost: Lightning brass and fans will always wonder how it might have gone if Johnson hadn't been playing hurt and Bishop (in a coming attraction) hadn't been injured.

Learned: Goalie Ben Bishop emerged as a star, as did center Tyler Johnson along with linemates Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov ("The Triplets").

Also learned: Don't get cocky and relax against champions. The Lightning scored one goal over final the final two games vs. Chicago, getting shut out in Game 6.

2015-16

After being up 3-2 on the Penguins in the East final, lost in seven games.

Key acquisitions: Few changes.

Gained: Andrei Vasilevskiy's first extended playoff experience after another Ben Bishop injury.

Lost: A 3-2 lead vs. the Pens. Bishop to injury again.

Overcame: Injuries to Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman, general insurrection and Jonathan Drouin's suspension for refusing to report to AHL Syracuse during his trade-request saga.

Learned: Don't relax against champs. Again. The Lightning scored just three goals in the East final's last two games as the big guns went silent. It lost 2-1 in Game 7.

2017-18

Lost in seven games to inspired Capitals in the East final.

Key acquisitions: Dan Girardi (D), Mikhail Sergachev (D), Ryan McDonagh (D), J.T. Miller (F).

Gained: Nikita Kucherov emerges as an elite player, contends for league MVP. Andrei Vasilevskiy contends for Vezina Trophy.

Lost: The Lightning falls behind Washington 2-0 in the East final, takes a 3-2 series lead, loses all killer instinct, loses badly in Game 6 at Washington and Game 7 in Tampa. The league's top-scoring team is held scoreless in the final two games.

Learned: Can't play to lower standard when it matters.

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