Thunderstruck…In A Bad Way

Isn’t it kind of appropriate, for an area that’s used to the weather patterns we are, that we get a really intense and potentially dangerous storm that attacks with fierce precision, multiple threats, and no sign of slowing down…

…and before long…

…it just…fizzles out.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened to the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning.

Record setting point and win totals. Personal accolades. Team dominance. Not only did they clinch a playoff spot in incredible time, but they clinched the PRESIDENT’S TROPHY, the award that goes to the top point getting team in the league for the Regular Season, before ANY OTHER TEAM in the Eastern Conference clinched a playoff spot.

Now, if you’re new to Hockey, understand, it’s widely known that the Presidents Trophy is the kiss-of-death of all kisses-of-death in the sport. You don’t win the Season and then cake walk to the Cup. There is no cake walk to the Cup. There is a reason it’s said that the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in sports to win, and it keeps being proven right.

When the Lightning sprinted out to a 3-0 lead after the first period in Game 1, it couldn’t have felt more obvious that the Bolts would simply handle the Columbus Blue Jackets. But what came was the proverbial egg on the face of the Lightning. Underwhelming efforts from their stars, which included most importantly, the offensive crown jewel of the team, Nikita Kucherov, who’s Art Ross effort (Most Points in a season) is just not that impressive anymore, clearly showing his emotions at the end of Game 2, with frustrated actions that led to his suspension for Game 3. This is not the Kuch we watched all season.

And then…Steven Stamkos. The #1 Overall Pick the Bolts inherited in the 2008 Entry Draft. Stamkos, the Captain of the team, started the season off slow but rebounded to collect 98 points for his team this year. He’s been productive in past Playoff campaigns, namely the 18 points (7g, 11a) in the Cup Final run in 2015, and the 16 points (7g, 9a) in last years Playoffs. But there is a disturbing stat that can only be exposed when things go wrong:

Of course, to be fair, Stammer scored a goal on Tuesday Night, but…you see where I’m going with this?

However, the problem, for me, wasn’t the offensive production, the defensive meltdowns, the special teams failures…all of which WERE problems. The problem is the reaction to these events. Post-game press conferences tell EVERYTHING you need to know, and in this day and age, we can all watch them. This team was not angry. Intense. Pissed. Motivated. Annoyed.

We got the “we know we can do better, so we need to do better next game and do better” comments. The kind of comments that New York Ranger fans (like myself, at a time) came to be annoyed by from the likes of Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh. Where’s the vinegar. Where’s the Salt. Where’s the emotion it takes to win the Stanley Cup. The Grit. The Heart.

Looking forward to next season, we can be sure the Lightning still have the framework to have a season like they had this year. Stars to score and produce at will. A strong defense centered around Victor Hedman, and yes, even Ryan McDonagh. Andrei Vasilevskiy isn’t expected to get worse with age, so things can hold steady there. Jon Cooper is getting up there in years with one team, statistically speaking, but signed an extension.

But you’ll have time this summer, Lightning fans…to figure out where the grit and heart come from next season.

You’ll just have more time to think about it than ANY of us planned.

The Tampa Bay Lightning – 10 Points Clear and 2 All Stars!

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were named to the Atlantic Division All Star Team for the upcoming NHL All Star activities in San Jose, but who else from the team could have been named?! Bryan and Bacon discuss the players who were snubbed, and cover Kuch being named the NHL’s 1st Star for the Month of December. Is there something negative to be pointed out in the Lightning at this time?

The Tampa Bay Lightning – the thunder…still…rolls

What’s there to say about the Tampa Bay Lightning? They’re big and strong, have won 7 in a row…and oh…they’re getting their All-Star Goaltender back. Bryan and Bacon discuss what’s next for the team and what the effect of Andrei Vasilevskiy returning has. Louie Domingue was the NHL’s 2nd star of the week and there is NO discussion about the New York Rangers visit to Tampa recently.

B – (4 and) O – L – T – S!

The Tampa Bay Lightning are enjoying a 4-0 record since our last show, and it seems Bryan may have found the key to the Lightning success this season so far! The Bolts are in the drivers seat through the first part of the season, but as the year is set to turn soon, the Playoffs grow closer, and the team has to be ready for a major benchmark…the Trade Deadline. Bryan and Bacon discuss what the team could plan to do in late February.

Episode 6 – Corbin Boes, Bolts haul of a season and Buffalo x10!

Orlando Solar Bears goaltender Corbin Boes talks about his young Pro Hockey career, and whether playing against former teammates offers an advantage to either player. The Bolts have 2 scorers in the Top 10 in the NHL points stats, and Bacon called it! Braydon Point and Nikita Kucherov lead the way for the Lightning, while the team plays goalie shuffle with their supporting cast as they await the return of Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Buffalo Sabres are incredibly good right now. Bryan loves it, Bacon…does not.

Tampa Bay Lightning and the dog days of…winter?

The Bolts have 2 scorers in the Top 10 in the NHL points stats, and Bacon called it! Braydon Point and Nikita Kucherov lead the way for the Lightning, who are ready to face the super-hot Buffalo Sabres after dropping a home have to Anaheim that seemed like more of a nuisance than an issue to be worried about. Also, the Bolts play goalie shuffle with their supporting cast while they await the return of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Tampa Bay Lightning – the hole in goal?

Marty St. Louis is welcomed to the Hockey Hall of Fame. We’ll discuss the goaltending situation in Tampa Bay in light of the injury to Andrei Vasilevskiy. With the league as tight as it is right now, its important for the Lightning to stay in position, we’ll talk about how.

Tampa Bay Lightning – the thunder rolls.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are continuing their success early in the 2018-19 season. They locked down another youngster, but there is still business to be done! Are Bryan and Bacon satisfied with the recent surge of production by Steven Stamkos after a slow start? Mathieu Joseph learns a tough early-career lesson from Milan Lucic.

Solar Bears talk with Hunter Fejes!

Orlando Solar Bears leading scorer Hunter Fejes joins the show to talk about the teams recent 2 game home/home sweep of the Florida Everblades and the solidifying of the defensive play of the team. Also, Fejes give an insight to the differences between the AHL and ECHL game. Then we focus on Hunter’s time at the “Harvard for Hockey”, Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota, what the experience there did for his game, and the ongoing impact it has on his life and career.

Photo Provided by Orlando Solar Bears/Gary Bassing