Who’s to blame for the Lightning disappointment?

by Gary Shelton on April 14, 2019 · 3 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevkskiy has struggled for two games./CARMEN MANDATO

Sunday, 4 a.m.

They are dazed. They are wounded. They are hanging on to the ropes.

So who do you blame?

Except, of course, everyone.

They are bloodied. They are baffled. They are looking for relief.

So whose fault is it?

That's the way the world works. When a team has such high

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Kucherov has been suspended for Game Three./CARMEN MANDATO

expectations, there has to be a reason for such a complete disappointment. The Lightning, the high-flying Lightning, cannot find the opposing goal. They no longer streak past the enemy. They no longer look danger.

They have been outscored 9-4, and that was with a three-goal lead. They are Mike Tyson on cleats. They are the '08 Patriots. They are the '69 Colts. They are falling, and who knows if they can get up?

But who is the most disappointing member of the Lightning so far? Who has the most egg on the biggest portion of his face?

Some candidates?

1. Andrei Vasilevskiy: Coming into the series, you would have said the Big Cat was one of the biggest reasons the Bolts would win. After all, his 39 victories paced the NHL's regular season, following his 44-win season of a year ago. But Vasilevskiy simply hasn't been good. He is last in the NHL in save percentage (in the playoffs) and last in goals against average. He's giving up 4.56 goals per game. In the playoffs, that won't give a team a chance.

2. Nikita Kucherov: Kucherov led the league with 128 points in the regular season, but he's been invisible so far this playoff. Even worse, he has been suspended for Game Three.

3; Steven Stamkos; Stamkos had his best season as far as points, but he hasn't  registered a point in the post-season. He's missed on all eight shots, and overall, he's a minus three.

4. Victor Hedman: By now, we are used to the presence of Hedman. But he's got a minus-two plus-minus, which ranks 260th in the NHL.

5. Special teams: The Lightning is tied for last in the NHL in power plays and penalty killing. Any questions?

6. Jon Cooper: What? If you're going to give him credit for his wins, then he has to absorb some of the blame when he doesn't. Cooper's team didn't handle a lead in Game One, and in Game Two, they never competed.

7. Depth: In two games, neither Kucherov nor Stamkos have scored. But neither has  Brayden Point or Tyler Johnson or Ondrej Palat or Ryan Miller. Only two forwards have scored in two games.

8. Scoring: The Lightning were dynamic in the regular season with 235 goals. But they're tied for 11th in the NHL with two goals a game. Those teams they're tied with? None of them have a win, either.

9. Defense: The Lightning has given up more goals than any team in the playoffs.

10. Physicality: That's a familiar flaw for the Bolts, but against the Blue Jackets, they've been so outmuscled they've lost their structure. Does anyone remember the Washington series last year?

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