About a month ago coach Guy Boucher described the Lightning's season as one of "adversity, adversity, adversity," and it hasn't gotten much better. Tampa Bay is 17-20-3 and 13th in the 15-team Eastern Conference. Injuries to key players, including defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Victor Hedman have hurt, and a brutal schedule (24 of the first 40 games on the road) has been challenging. Bottom line, though, the Lightning — with a leaky defense, suspect goaltending, a head-scratching power play and an inability to win on the road — has only itself to blame for a first half that has it being closer to the bottom of the East than a playoff spot. But, hey, there's always Steven Stamkos.
MVP Steven Stamkos
The 21-year-old center has a league-best 28 goals and is on pace for 59, which would beat his 51 that tied for the 2009-10 league lead. His 23 even-strength goals also are tops, and his 45 points were fifth entering Saturday. His five winning goals are tied for the team lead. One quibble: his 45.6 faceoff winning percentage.
Biggest disappointment Dwayne Roloson
The 42-year-old goaltender, the league's oldest player, signed a one-year, $3 million deal to be the No. 1, but he has started just three of the team's past 15 games and has fewer games (20) than "backup" Mathieu Garon (28). Roloson was 6-9-1 with a 3.76 goals-against average that entered Saturday last among goalies with at least 10 games and an .881 save percentage that was next to last.
Right wing Teddy Purcell has two goals in his past 26 games. … Before wing Ryan Shannon was sidelined by injury, he was a bust, with two goals, seven points in 25 games. … Marc-Andre Bergeron, who once led all league defensemen in scoring, has one goal, zero assists in his past 11 games. … Center Vinny Lecavalier has four goals in his past six games, but he had just one goal in his previous 13.
Biggest loss Mike Lundin
The defenseman turned down more money from the Lightning than he eventually got from the Wild in an offseason free agent deal, and the parting disappointed both sides. His steadiness, sound positional play and ability to handle the league's top scorers would be a godsend for a defensive unit struggling with injuries and inconsistency.
No one comes to mind.
The Lightning's 18 road losses are only two fewer than all of last season. Compare that to how well the team has played at home.
Record 6-15-3 11-5-0
GF-GA (1st per.) 16-33 13-11
Power play % 8.5* 21.8**
* last in league entering Saturday
** fourth in league entering Saturday
Most ridiculous stat
1-for-34 Streak for the road power play; it entered Saturday the worst in the league.
Number of the day
4 Games in which Tampa Bay has allowed seven goals, most in the league.
Game to remember
Lightning 3, Rangers 2 (SO)
After his errant backhand during the morning skate fractured the face of teammate Marty St. Louis, Dominic Moore redeemed himself with a shorthanded goal on a backhand to tie the score with 1:57 left in the third period. His shootout goal, and fine goaltending by Mathieu Garon, gave Tampa Bay the win Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden.
Game to forget
Islanders 5, Lightning 1
Tampa Bay was outshot 34-24 and dominated Dec. 6 at the Nassau Coliseum by the league's lowest-scoring team. Coach Guy Boucher blamed a travel schedule that had the Lightning getting to New York at 3 a.m. after a game the night before in Ottawa. But even he said the effort was "horrible" and "disgusting."
Most underrated Marty St. Louis
He has been overshadowed by Stamkos, but the right wing, 36, just keeps going. He has 10 goals and 31 points in 35 games. He had a goal and nine points in his first six games after missing five with facial fractures from being hit by a puck Dec. 8. He recently got his 800th point and needs 11 games for 900.