Did personal goals get in the way of playoff ones for the Lightning?

Coach Jon Cooper says maybe there was a tad too much focus on individual milestones, but doesn’t begrudge his players.
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91), who set a career goals record this season, packs up his equipment bag as he prepares to leave the locker room Thursday. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91), who set a career goals record this season, packs up his equipment bag as he prepares to leave the locker room Thursday. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published April 18
Updated April 19

TAMPA ― The Lightning had its fair share of team and personal achievements throughout the regular season, so many that it was regarded as having one of the best seasons in NHL history.

Tampa Bay’s postseason also will go down in the record book as one of the most memorable, lasting only seven days as the Lightning became the first Presidents’ Trophy-winning team to get swept in the first round.

But how did it take such a sudden turn?

Cooper said the team may have focused too much on trying to help each other achieve individual goals.

“I think guys were having some really outstanding individual years, and maybe some of the focus was trying to help those guys have a little bit more success,” he said. “I know as you get going later in the year, the guys have certain goals or milestones that they can reach, and one of the special things about our team was they pushed for that.”

Nikita Kucherov didn’t shy away from setting records this season. His 128 points were the most in the league since Joe Thornton’s 125 in 2005-06. The All-Star forward tallied the most points in a season by a Russian player. Kucherov also became the first Lightning player to record multiple 100-point seasons and set the season points record for the franchise.

Steven Stamkos surpassed Vinny Lecavalier’s franchise career goals record (383), finishing with 393. The center also notched the highest number of points in a season in his career (98).

“They wanted guys to accomplish those goals,” Cooper said, “and you can’t say anything but good things about the players wanting to help their teammates.”

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