Can't win without goals
Let's just acknowledge up front that the Lightning is again last in the league in save percentage at .875, but we've been there before. And, even so, I don't think Johan Holmqvist (who's save percentage is .885 and has a 3.01 goals-against average) has been that bad.
But the Lightning's strategy entering the season was to simply outscore its opponents. That's why it got Michel Ouellet. That's why it got Jan Hlavac and Chris Gratton. But after a road trip in which Tampa Bay was outscored 13-2 in three losses, goals are hard to come by. The team's 35 goals are eight in the East. So it is up to those guys who are supposed to score to get it done.
Consider Marty St. Louis has two goals but none in his past four games. Brad Richards has five but none in his past four. Vinny Prospal has nine goals but hasn't scored in his past three. Gratton has three goals but is scoreless in six games And Ouellet and Hlavac, with two goals and one goal, respectively, have been disappointing.
So we can talk all we want about goaltending and a defense that has been shaky at best. But this slump seems mostly about goal scoring.
"I know I'm counted on, and everybody is counted on,'' St. Louis said after Saturday's morning skate. "We all have to push each other to get there.''
Expect the usual suspects to get the bulk of playing time in order for the to work through the slump.
"We put a lot of pressure on our top people, and they're going to get every opportunity to be the difference makers,'' coach John Tortorella said. "Your best players need to be your best players.''
"Once our guys are on the top of our game, we're a tough team to beat,'' St. Louis said. "Until we're there, we have to continue to grind it out. ... Guys work too hard here and care too much for things not to go the way they should go. You just have to fight through it. It's going to get better and we'll be a better team because of it.''
Here's how the lines skated in the morning:
The defense was: