All the money, all the personnel changes, all the expectations the Lightning had going into the season resulted in this: a second straight last-place finish in the Southeast and 29th in the league; 24 victories and 12 at home, both the league's fewest; the inability to figure out overtime or shootouts; a league-worst 89 power-play goals against; and 19 losses when either tied or leading heading into the third period. Coach Barry Melrose was fired after 16 games. Center Vinny Lecavalier's 29 goals and 67 points were his lowest outputs since 2001-02, and injuries, especially a season-ending concussion to goalie Mike Smith, brutalized the lineup. For Thursday's home finale against the Capitals, 11 players were sidelined. For the season, 50 players, including an NHL record 22 defensemen, suited up. The good news? There's no place to go but up.
MVP Marty St. Louis
The right wing had team highs of 30 goals and 80 points, and his plus-4 was notable on a team with a minus-72 goal differential. But his influence went well beyond the ice. St. Louis, 33, was a mentor for rookie Steven Stamkos, a leader in the locker room and an engaged partner to coach Rick Tocchet in team meetings, practices and video sessions.
Best story Steven Stamkos
He started the season with a coach, Barry Melrose, who didn't believe in him and had four goals in 40 games. He ended the season with a coach, Rick Tocchet, who worked to make him better, and scored 19 in his last 39. Stamkos' 23 goals are a Lightning rookie record and third among first-year players. His 46 points were fifth, and he led with 181 shots.
Biggest disappointment Vinny Prospal
The left wing signed a four-year, $14 million deal and limped along with 19 goals and 45 points. Prospal, 34, also was minus-20, tied for 880th out of 885 listed players.
Most ridiculous stat
5-18 Overtime record, including shootouts
Best game Lightning 8, Flames 6
It wasn't a complete game as defense suffered, but it was exciting on March 1 as Tampa Bay went into Calgary and knocked off the Northwest leaders with three third-period goals. Vinny Lecavalier's winner was his 300th career goal, and Mark Recchi had a franchise-best five assists.
Worst game Coyotes 3, Lightning 2
Four days to recharge at a Scottsdale, Ariz., resort, and still, wing Mark Recchi said, players were "skating in quicksand." Tied 2-2 in the third on Jan. 8 with a team that seemed as disinterested, Tampa Bay had just six shots.
91-66 Outscored in the third period and overtime
3-10 Shootout record
10-29 Record in one-goal games
9-7-4 Record against the Northeast, the only division against which the Lightning was a winner
76.2 Road penalty kill percentage, last in the league
353 Man games lost to injury or illness
19-33-14 Rick Tocchet's record as interim coach
Want to know why the Lightning stunk at shootouts? Check these stats:
Marty St. Louis51.200
"That's why the United States has nuclear weapons. It's called a deterrent."
Former coach Barry Melrose on the value of an enforcer
"I'll predict right now, Tampa Bay will win the division."
Owner Len Barrie on July 8, to the St. Petersburg Times
"It ensures that our team is better in October and for the next 10 years."
Owner Oren Koules on acquiring defenseman Matt Carle in the Dan Boyle deal. Carle was traded after 12 games
"He's not being traded today. He's not being traded tomorrow. He's not being traded any time soon."
GM Brian Lawton in January on rumors captain Vinny Lecavalier could be dealt
"Can you imagine if he starts (next season) like the last two months?"
Coach Rick Tocchet about Steven Stamkos
"It felt like my whole forehead was split open. I knew I had to get to the bench because I didn't know how much blood I was actually losing. I just didn't know if my brain was sticking out of my head. It was dripping. I was scared I needed some help."
RW Marty St. Louis after he was gashed by the skate of linesman Derek Amell
Signed: Forwards — Evgeny Artyukhin, Brandon Bochenski, Ryan Craig, Adam Hall, Jeff Halpern, Zenon Konopka, Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Vinny Prospal, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Paul Szczechura, Radim Vrbata; Defensemen — Andrej Meszaros, Paul Ranger; Goaltenders — Mike Smith. Salary committed: $38.075 million.
Restricted free agents: Forwards — Martins Karsums; Defensemen — Lukas Krajicek, Matt Lashoff, Mike Lundin, Matt Smaby; Goaltenders — Mike McKenna, Karri Ramo.
Unrestricted free agents: Forwards — David Koci, Matt Pettinger, Jason Ward; Defensemen — Marek Malik, Josef Melichar, Cory Murphy, Richard Petiot, Noah Welch.