Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning midseason report: The good, the bad, the potential

Coach Rick Tocchet said the best way to describe the first 41 games of the Lightning's 82-game season is "a tease." There was a stretch of one victory in 11 games and the current stretch of five wins in seven, though the team has yet to win three straight.

Goaltending from Mike Smith and Antero Niittymaki generally was good. But other than Steven Stamkos' team-best 21 goals and Ryan Malone's 19, offense has been tough to come by as Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Alex Tanguay combined for just 24.

A 1-6 shootout record is embarrassing, and 102 goals are third worst in the league.

Still, Tampa Bay is just one point out of the playoffs.

"We can say it's a learning process, and we can learn from it in the first half. But there's going to be a time where actions come into play," Tocchet said. "We need consistency. We need composure. We need to back up what we're saying."

Here's who backed it up and who didn't in the season's first half:

MVP

Ryan Malone: The left wing's 19 goals are second on the team and entered Saturday tied for 10th in the league. His seven winners are a league best. Malone, 30, who will play for the U.S. Olympic team, is a reliable presence in front of the net. The Pittsburgh native has found a comfort zone in the locker room and helps keep things loose.

Most disappointing

Andrej Meszaros: The defenseman makes too many position errors that lead to goals. His minus-13 is a team worst and was tied for 11th worst in the league entering Saturday. His three goals give him just five in two seasons with Tampa Bay after scoring 26 in three seasons with the Senators.

Most underrated

Mattias Ohlund: The defenseman, with zero goals and 10 assists, is the first to say he needs to contribute more offensively. But Ohlund is a calming influence on the blue line, and he was an early season anchor and mentor for rookie Victor Hedman. Ohlund is minus-3, but his team-high 23:57 of average ice time was almost all against opponents' top players.

Nicest surprise

Kurtis Foster: The defenseman played just 10 games last season after recovering from a broken leg sustained during the 2007-08 season and has improved as the season progressed. With a shot clocked at 101.5 mph, Foster is a key on the power-play point. And his six goals, three on the power play, are just two fewer than the rest of Tampa Bay's defensemen combined.

A game to remember

Lightning 3, Penguins 1: Tampa Bay on Saturday got a goal 1:03 into the game from Marty St. Louis, had 20 second-period shots and outshot the defending Stanley Cup champs 37-26. Zenon Konopka scored the winner on his 29th birthday, and Steve Downie's third-period goal made it 3-1 soon after Vinny Lecavalier missed a penalty shot. Goalie Mike Smith won for the fourth time in six games.

A game to forget

Flyers 5, Lightning 2: Fresh off two straight wins to end a six-game road trip, the Lightning on Dec. 23 had a chance to kick-start a five-game homestand. But the team showed little energy and was lucky to be tied 2-2 after two periods. Three Philly goals in a third period in which Tampa Bay was outshot 16-10 ended the charade.

Best goal

Steven Stamkos: The second-year center fell as he shot at Jonas Hiller in a Nov. 19 game at Anaheim. Hiller made the save. But the puck popped up in the air, and Stamkos, from his back, swatted it past Hiller. Stamkos said it was "luck."

Most ridiculous stat

2-22 In other words, Lightning shooters have converted just 2 of 22 shootout chances. Is it any wonder the team is 1-6 in shootouts and 3-10 in games that went past regulation time?

Best stat

16-14-7 The Lightning's record on Jan. 3, 2004, the season it won the Stanley Cup. Not much different than its 16-15-10 record today.

Quote to note

"It's unacceptable. It's painful. It's frustrating to have that much talent in our room and not come out. The intensity has to raise. The passion has to raise. It's just the truth. It's not intense enough. It's not passionate enough. It's not good enough. It's not good enough at all."

Center Zenon Konopka after a 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Dec. 23; the Lightning is 3-0-1 since

Tampa Bay Lightning midseason report: The good, the bad, the potential 01/02/10 [Last modified: Sunday, January 3, 2010 12:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games

    Minors

    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.