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Has Tampa Bay Lightning had enough adversity to build strength for playoff run?

Has the Lightning overcome enough adversity this season to make a long playoff run? Craig MacTavish, an analyst for Canada's TSN network and a former Oilers coach, isn't so sure.

"I think when you analyze their season, they're probably the team that has had the least adversity in their position," MacTavish said. "They started strongly. They maintained. They've never been in danger of falling out of a playoff spot.

"I think that's a positive, but it's also a little bit of a negative, because you have to be stretched a little bit to grow as a team. I don't know if they've had that opportunity yet."

It is an interesting theory that teams have to go through the bad times in order to be good. But MacTavish said the intensity of competition in the playoffs requires a certain amount of resiliency that is best learned in the regular season.

"There are critical points in the NHL playoffs that you are faced with a challenge that you'd better collectively overcome or you're eliminated," said MacTavish, who led Edmonton to the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

"Those type of challenges can help a team tighten up its system of play when you've faced a bunch of adversity, which I don't think (the Lightning was) faced with much this year. I can't remember thinking, 'Holy (cow), this is a critical game for that team.' "

The Lightning, of course, would disagree.

The team has endured major injuries to Vinny Lecavalier, Simon Gagne, Steve Downie and Ryan Malone. It played the first three months of the season with pretty much the worst goaltending in the league, it has overcome Steven Stamkos' monumental scoring drought and recently broke a 2-6-4 streak with five straight victories.

Besides, right wing Adam Hall said, who needs adversity? "We have a really tight group in here. Every player in here wants to battle for each other, wants to go to battle for the coaches. It's really become close like a family."

Has Tampa Bay Lightning had enough adversity to build strength for playoff run? 04/09/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 9, 2011 4:58pm]
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