Ask the expert: Phil Esposito

by Gary Shelton on December 3, 2014 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Phil Esposito was a Hall of Fame forward for the Boston Bruins. Not only that, the Tampa Bay Lightning was his brainchild, and he was the team's first owner. Even now, he works on the team's radio crew. Each week, Esposito will answer questions from readers. To ask Phil a question, send it to GarySheltonsports@gmail.com with "ask the expert'' in the subject line. The most interesting questions will be asked.

This season has a long way to go. But so far, what do you think of this Lightning team? How does it compare with some of their better teams?

PE: Well, there are a lot of things to like about this team. The defense is still so much better than it used to be. There is one thing that bothers. It’s sometimes the players, certain players, they're not mentally ready for the game. When you’re not mentally ready, you’re going to make stupid mistakes that cost you the game. When you have the goaltender making these all these saves for you all the time, you think you can get away with this or that. That’ s the only negative I can see with the Lightning

Whether they’re good enough to win a Stanley cup this year, I’m not sure. There are so many real good teams in this game.  I think they can advance in the playoffs. It depends on the matchups. I don’t think we would have won the Cup in 2004 had Montreal not beat the Bruins. Then we ended beating Montreal. Last year, I think we could have beaten Montreal if Ben Bishop doesn’t get hurt. Frankly, Lindbeck couldn’t stop a balloon.

How much will the return of Victor Hedman help the defense?

PE: Tremendously. Absolutely r\tremendously. Now Carle doesn’t have to play 23-24 minutes. If he plays 16-18 instead, he plays such better. The same goes for goudas. Surprisingly, I think Sustr can play 23-24 minutes with no problem. He’s getting better and better.

Garrison is very steady. I wasn’t sure about him when they got him. Yes, he could blast the puck. I wasn’t sure about him, but he’s proved me wrong. I think he does a great job back there. It’s kind of hard with Barberio. He’s in, he’s out. You have all these good players.

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