The Lightning started the season fairly well, but have tanked lately, falling to the bottom of the Eastern Conference along the way. Steve Stamkos is having a great sophomore season, leading the team with 25 goals. Marty St. Louis is having a bounce back year with over 50 points already, but Vinny Lecavalier has only 13 goals this year. In fact, the top two lines have been fairly good for the Lightning, although Alex Tanguay was probably expected to bring a bit more pop with him when he was signed in the offseason.
It’s been defensive struggles that have hamstrung the Lightning this year. Mike Smith was given every chance to make the starting job his own this year, but with a 10-11 record and a GAA dangerously close to 3.00, he hasn’t been what Tampa Bay was looking for. Niittymaki hasn’t been much better, but neither keepr is getting much help from the blueline.
Of the Lightning defenders with over 30 games played this season, only David Hale (+4)and Matt Walker (+2) have positive ratings. Victor Hedman started the season pretty well, but his rating has dropped to -6, although he still logs a huge amount of ice time for a rookie, averaging nearly 22 minutes a game. Only Mattias Ohlund logs more ice time. Either way, the Lightning will have no shot at making the playoffs unless they can find a way to solve their defensive troubles.