Bolts’ offense needs to pick up before playoffs

by Gary Shelton on April 21, 2021

in general

Point scored the only Lightning goal./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Upon further reflection, perhaps the Tampa Bay Lightning isn't ready for the playoffs, after all.

A night after making an argument that things would indeed click together down the stretch, the Lightning considered a counter-debate Tuesday night. They lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, in a game that showed none of the the life the Bolts had shown the game before.

The Lighting is now 7-8 in its last 15 games, and it has scored three goals or fewer in 14 of those. It is a team that looks like -- now more than ever -- it misses Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

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“We’ve got to start trending the right way," said Lightning forward Blake Coleman. "There is still no panic in this rom. We know what kind of team we have.  Come playoff time we’re going to be ready to rock. But you can’t just flip the switch. We’ve got to start building over the next 10 games."

The Bolts started Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal for the second straight night -- the first time he has started both games of a back-to-back in three years -- but Vasilevskiy gave up three goals, including two in 25 seconds in the second period.

“We turned too many pucks over," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We didn’t break out clean. We didn’t think the game as well as we should have. We lost some battles. When you do that in this game it’s going to be tough. 

"The chances we generated tonight ... we probably deserved just one (goal). We didn’t generate as much tonight. We didn't spend as much time in the O-zone. When you’re not putting teams on their heels you don’t have as many chances to score."

Forward Brayden Point, who scored the Bolts' goal, said the Hurricanes were better.

“I thought they were just quicker than us," said Point. "They were quicker to pucks, they were quicker to get on top of us. They didn’t give us much time and space. They were winning races and it led to a lot more zone time for them."

The Lightning need to score more, Point said.

"That’s been a story for us in the last several games, not putting the puck in the net," Point said. "Obviously, those guys (Stamkos and Kucherov) are world-class players. You never really replace those guys. We’ve got to play a simpler game. Sometimes, it's reading when you have time and space. Sometimes, we’re forcing things a little too much. Sometimes it's just being a little more patient.

"If you're giving up four a night, it’s tough to win games."

Coleman said "There's a hole in our offense." He thinks the difference will come from other players.

"You can’t be a team that shows up one night and disappears the next," Coleman said. "We’re going to look in the mirror. We’ve got some reflecting to do. I wasn’t good enough to night. I’m’ sure a lot of guys would say the same. "

The Bolts are home on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The puck is scheduled scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.

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