Throughout the 2014-2015 regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were number one in the NHL in lighting the lamp, putting up an average of 3.16 goals per game. They were far and away the best team to make the post-season in terms of goal scoring. In fact, The Hockey News pointed to the Bolts’ scoring threat as the number one reason why they predicted Tampa Bay to hoist the Cup this June.
Goal-scoring might also be the top reason why the Lightning fail to get past the second round, or more accurately their lack of scoring.
Out of the 16 teams to qualify for the playoffs, Tampa is now ninth in goals for, at a mere 2.33 per game. Steven Stamkos, second by ten goals in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, has only two assists in three games. Tyler Johnson is leading the Lightning this postseason with two goals; Nikita Nesterov with three points. In contrast, Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom has six points in four games.
It’s not that the Lightning aren’t trying. Stamkos has 11 shots in three games. Johnson has ten. But the big guns have mainly be quiet. Stamkos was scoring at 14.3% shooting percentage in the last post-season. This post-season? 0.0%.
The problem can be pointed to the Bolts’ power play, which was 14th in the League (18.8%) throughout the regular season and has become even worse (11.8%) in the playoffs. Only three teams in the playoffs have worse PPs than the Lightning, including the soon-to-be-eliminated Winnipeg Jets.
On the flip side, Tampa led the NHL in power play percentage…in the 2014 playoffs, when they were swept by the Montreal Canadiens. If truth be told, the L.A. Kings were only sixth in PP efficiency during the playoffs and they still hoisted the Stanley Cup.
The fact remains, the Lightning need to return to their scoring ways to have a chance to truly contend for the Cup.
Michelle Timian fell in love with hockey after watching a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 and has been following hockey ever since. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in Creative Writing and is more comfortable in front of a keyboard than on skates. She also blogs for the New York Rangers at blueshirtsunited.com.