Ask Gary: Does Lightning need to tweak roster?

by Gary Shelton on May 28, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rays

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

As a postmortem on the Bolts, we do need to cheer them for getting as far as they did. However, don't you think Yzerman needs to address the lethargy and all too often lack of effort that plagued the team all year? Seems to me there is a piece or two missing from the roster that could help remedy this. Or maybe have someone besides Cooper manage the power play that has stunk for too long? What would be your magic potion?

Barry McDowell​

Obviously, Yzerman needs to tweak the roster. But there isn't a lot of financial room to do that with the contracts that are coming up for additions, especially if Steven Stamkos plays.

For the life of me, I'll never understand the team not skating in Game Six. Never. I know that sometimes, you get a penalty early, and it looks as if you aren't giving an effort when you are. But this time, the players themselves admitted the effort wasn't there. How does that happen in a game to go to the Stanley Cup?

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I do think the Lightning have too many players who simply cannot score. I like Brian Boyle, but when you throw in Cedric Paquette, J.T. Brown and Valtteri Filppula, you get a team that isn't deep enough.

Obviously, the team needs to address its power play. But when a team is successful, then it's slower to make wholesale changes, as you can understand.

My magic formula? Does Phil Esposito still have his skates?

So the Lightning season is over. How do you see the goaltender position playing out over the off season. Seems both Bish and Vas can be a No. One goaltender, will the Lightning keep both or trade one of them? And what of Stamkos? Signed or let walk?

Cecil DeBald

I think they put the decision off for another year. Vasilevskiy had a good series against Pittsburgh, but I'm not sure he's ready to be a team's every-night goalie. Bishop has one more year on his contract. So let's assess it in another year.

I'll say this. I think if Bishop is healthy, the Lightning wins this series. The Bolts don't want to say that out loud, because everyone pumps up the goalkeeper. But Bishop was one of the best in the NHL this year. Vasilevskiy wasn't.

Stamkos was encouraging Thursday night when he talked about the Bolts in future tense. I know it's going to be hard to keep him, but I keep thinking about Jeff Vinik. He isn't going to want to watch him go, either.

The "trading season" in MLB is looming, with the trade deadline 1 August. Will the Rays be trading vets for depth, depth for vets or be standing pat...or doing something else?

Cecil DeBald

I think the Rays will make some small moves. I think they might find a taker for Desmond Jennings, for instance. But it will be a forgettable deal, because that's what the Rays usually do at the deadline. A reliever might come, and a reliever might go. But I'd doubt the team makes a move for anyone to save its season.

What does this team do exceptionally well, Cecil? Starting pitching? Hitting for average? Baserunning? Defense? It has decent power so far, but it really doesn't excel in enough areas of the game to contend.

In light of the NFL commissioner and team owners doing the following:

          -- Requiring cities that want to host the Super Bowl to pay bribes

          -- Charging full price for pre-season game tickets

          -- Allowing increases in ticket prices of 24%

          -- Extorting cities to use tax dollars to pay for stadiums

         -- Lying about and obstructing research regarding CTE

Does the NFL commissioner (and owners) have any integrity at all?

Scott Myers

Define integrity. You can certainly accuse the league of not having it because of its stance on concussions, because of its discipline inconsistencies, because of its money grabs, because of the way it abandoned the St. Louis market.

I think Goodell tries, and fails, too often. I thought he tried very hard in the Greg Hardy case but was overruled by the courts. I thought he tried with Ray Rice. But he has looked petty and small in the Deflategate case, and I'm not a Patriots guy.

Remember this: the commissioner is an employee of the owners whose job description is to make money for the rich guys. That's why the league went back to L.A., that's why the flirting is going on with Los Angeles.

None of what the NFL does surprises me, because I have little expectations that owners are going to do anything but line their pockets. Despite the way it spins it, this isn't a charity function. This is trying to move the money from your pockets into their pockets. This is employing criminals. This is trying to get money from politicians. This is swindling the public.

That's the NFL. We don't blame, say, Apple for charging what it does for Ipads. We don't blame Delta for not helping the homeless. We don't blame Dell Computers for rises in prices. Just realize that the NFL is like swimming with sharks. Every now and then, they're going to take a bite out of you.

I am still learning hockey. Please explain to me why the Bolts get consistently outshot. We really make our goalies work.

Jim Willson

It certainly happened against Pittsburgh, where the team was outshot every night. But, really, the Lightning outshot its opponents most nights during the regular season. Obviously, you can quibble with the quality of shots; they take too many no-chancers from the blue line instead of getting physical in front of the net.

Remember, this team led the league in scoring a year ago. It wasn't quite as good this year (tied for 12th), but it wasnt' bad. If there is a problem, I'd go back to the depth of scoring. There aren't enough guys in the lineup who can change the scoreboard. And some of the ones who can struggle to create their own shots.

What is the deal with the NHL and watch parties? Surely, they dont impact TV ratings that much.

Jim Willson

In a world of stupid things, fighting a team's watch party might have been the stupidest. It's New Coke stupid. It affects exactly one city in the world -- this one. Pittsburgh isn't going to have a watch party with a game in the arena, and no other city cares enough. For NBC to admit that one watch party affects their ratings to that degree really is like annoucning "hey, no one is watching us."

If I ran the NHL, I'd worry more about getting my sport on a TV network that's in everyone's regular rotation. What's next? They don't sell tickets so everyone has to watch on TV? Give me a break. Is the programming that bad on NBC? Wait, yes, it is.

A few months ago, I asked if you thought Tampa was still in the Super Bowl rotation. I feel that they aren't. We can't compete with these new billion dollar stadiums. A new scoreboard ain't gonna do it. How do you feel now?

Jim Willson

Jim, I still think Tampa Bay is in some sort of Super Bowl rotation, but that's like saying that Pluto orbits the sun. The rotation just takes a long time.

Tampa was never on the A list of Super Bowl cities like Los Angelos, New Orleans or Miami. It's one of the outliers. It has good weather and a decent stadium and plenty of hotel rooms. But it isn't an essential city for the league.

This time, Tampa Bay lost to Atlanta (also not a A-list city) and Los Angeles because of new stadiums. Miami had spent more on upgrades than the Ray Jay. If you're paranoid, you might wonder if the local owers were trying to get a new stadium financed.

That's often a carrot the league dangles if communities will build a stadium. Now, with the league softening its stance againast cold-weathr cities (New York, Detroit, Minnesota), Tampa's turn in the rotation comes around less often.

I still think Tampa will get more Super Bowls. But they'll always struggle against new stadiums or in cities where longtime owners want a favor.

Should Chris Archer be sent down to AAA in an attempt to regain his confidence or jolt him awake or is it time to simply part company with him? What would give me pause is he happens to be the best ever Rays' Kool Aid tosser at the end of those increasingly rare Rays victories. A shame to lose that.

Howard Powders

If it would help, I'd find someone else to dump the Gatorade. I'm afraid it woudn't help.

Unless Archer is injured, I'm not sure what he's to gain in Durham. His confidence is fine. Maybe too fine. He still has stuff. I just think he needs some James Shields-bulldog to him. I think he tinkers too much and tries to get too fancy.

Here's a question. If you send Archer to Durham, do you have to send Matt Moore to Montgomery. Moore is worst across the board than Archer.

Keep this in mind. Archer was a .500 pitcher coming into this season. That's it. He's never been a huge winner. Maybe the problem is that we want the results to match the ability. It hasn't.

Who takes Archer's place in the rotation if he goes down? No, Blake Snell isn't ready yet. Strange as it may sound, I think the Rays best shot is to hope he works his way out of this malarkey.

Should we be very disappointed that our stadium didn't get one of the upcoming Super Bowls? Seems like we've had our share and other cities, especially these new palaces being built should be showcased.   But the tourism dollars lost have got to be be pretty significant.  I guess my question is what are your thoughts about us not getting selected?

Rick Martin

I've never understood the disappointment. Most of us wouldn't go to a local Super Bowl, anyway. It just feeds money to chain hotels and chain restaurants.

If you're talking about civic pride, yeah, there is some. Tampa Bay has always had good games and good weather. I don't think think there has been a year that anyone walked away disappointed.

But the NFL uses Super Bowls to repay favors and to make money. Neither one of those are particuarly good reasons. I don't know if the problem is RayJay or if the Glazers aren't drumming up support for it. It'll come back, though. You'll still get a chance to see Kanye West walk into a party you can't go to.

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