COMMENTARY | Every team in the National Hockey League goes through its ups and downs, but the Tampa Bay Lightning saw more downs than anyone expected in this shortened season.
The Lightning finished the season in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and with these losses etched on the scoreboard, it's no wonder why they failed to make the postseason for the second year in a row.
1. The Start Of The Losing StreaksOn February 2, the Lighting lost to the New York Rangers 3-2. The loss triggered a six-game losing streak that became an all-to-common pattern when the Lightning posted losses in the future. When all was said and done, multiple six-game losing streaks followed and they threw in a five-game losing streak for good measure.
Either way you look at it, the game against the Rangers started a pattern the Lightning wish they could forget -- when the Lightning lost, they went down hard.
2. A Benched CaptainA big hole in the Lightning's lineup came when captain Vincent Lecavalier was put on injured reserved after sustaining a lower-body injury against the Florida Panthers on March 12. Without Lecavalier, the Lightning lost their next game on March 14, against the New York Islanders 4-2. Lecavalier's injury was a turning point, he was out nine games before returning and in his absence the Lightning went 4-4-1.
3. Anders Lindback InjuryThe Lightning lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on March 20. Yes, the Lightning lost but, more important, Anders Lindback, the team's 6-foot-6 goalie, would be out for most of the season after sustaining a lower-body injury during the third period. Talk about a hit to the team. Losing Lindback in net after he started the season with great potential led to a trade with Cory Conacher, Rookie of the Year candidate, that no one saw coming.
4. New Head Coach Jon CooperIn a risky move, Lightning head coach Guy Boucher was released and Jon Cooper, Syracuse Crunch head coach, was hired to replace him -- less than 48 hours after the announcement was made.
Cooper was ready to make a push for a playoff run but several days into the coaching change, his first loss occurred. On April 2, the Lightning played the Florida Panthers and lost in a shootout 3-2. Boucher may not have been able to put many wins on the scoreboard but as the losing trend continued, replacing him with Cooper, a coach without any NHL experience, failed to help the Lightning's record.
5. Cory Conacher TradeSteve Yzerman, general manager, is probably still haunted by the decision to trade Conacher for Ben Bishop, goalie of the Ottawa Senators. The trade sparked by Lindback's injury sent shock waves around the NHL. Conacher was a vital role in every one of the Lightning's wins when he stepped out on the ice.
The first loss without Conacher was a few days after the trade on April 6, a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders. Yzerman is probably still asking himself, "What was I thinking?"The start of next season brings new opportunities for the Lightning. Let's hope they learn from these losses to produce future wins on the ice.
Tia Preece is a Canadian native who resides in Florida and her work can be found on multiple sports websites, including BabesDigBalls.com. You can find Tia on Twitter @TiaPreece.
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