Bucs, Lightning share disappointment

by Gary Shelton on October 20, 2022

in general

Vasilevskiy hasn't been as sharp./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

The sports are different. The sounds of are the same.

You get the same heavy sighs. You get the same tired cliches. You are reminded that there are a lot of games to go. Teams tell you they haven't played their best, as if that is supposed to encourage anyone.

It is the sound of shortcoming, of falling shy expectations. And in Tampa Bay, you cannot get away from it.

Teams are all the same in disappointment. They fail to close out games. They make turnovers that cost them games. They talk about injuries. They talk about mental lapses. They talk about the latest loss as if it was an anomaly, as if they were strolling along minding their own business when defeat jumped out and mugged them.

They call players-only meetings. They vow to cut down on their penalties. They promise they'll start better and finish stronger. They cannot imagine why anyone is frustrated.

Sigh. The sound gets very tired very quickly.

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Brady has misfired more often./TIM WIRT

These days, the Lightning and the Bucs are pretty much the same creature. Both of them are 1-3 in their last four games. Both of them have stars not playing up to standard. Both of them seem absolutely shocked that losing has snuck up on them.

Take the Lightning, a team that has lived in the Stanley Cup Finals. Suddenly, they look slow. They do not sufficiently protect the puck. They rarely get a lead, and when they do, they do not hold it.

Steven Stamkos has six goals in four games. The rest of the team has four goals in four games. That's not good.

Nikita Kucherov hasn't scored. Brandon Hagel hasn't scored. Alex Killorn hasn't scored. Nick Paul hasn't scored.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, the best goalie in the world in recent seasons, is 26th in goals against. He's 27th in save percentage. The team is 24th in the penalty kill. In its three losses, it has one goal in the third period. They are tied for 10th in shots, but they are 22nd in goals.

Yeah; they're losing. Of course they are losing.

The Bucs are no different. Tom Brady is 20 points behind last year's passing rating. The team cannot make short yardage. The pass defense has a reading of 82.1, which is okay, but in the last three games, it's 98.4 Leonard Fournette is 19th in rushing.

Vita Tea hasn't played well. Devin White keeps blowing assignments. The secondary cannot hold up. The team can't find Mike Evans.

Even Brady has seemed more tentative. He throws quickly, as if he doesn't trust his line, and he throws low more often.

Yeah, there are injuries. But if you look at the recent past of Julio Jones and Akiem Hicks, wouldn't you expect them to be hurt? The young players don't seem ready to be stars, and too many of the stars look like they're off to bad starts.

Does it change? The players assure us it will, but then, what are they supposed to say? Of course they still believe.

The question is, is it getting harder for you to believe, too?

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