Analyzing the Good, Bad and Ugly of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014

Eric Steitz@esteitz16Analyst IIIAugust 21, 2013

Analyzing the Good, Bad and Ugly of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014

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    There are some good, some bad and a few ugly things about the Tampa Bay Lightning heading into the 2014 NHL season.

    What some consider a positive, could also—just as quickly—become a negative. That is what makes each preseason so exciting as fans watch anxiously for the Bolts to return to the success of 2011—or dare we mention 2004.

    This season is the 10-year anniversary of the first—and only—Stanley Cup in Lightning history. Much like last year’s 20 Years of Thunder, this year brings a different level of excitement.

    With so much to look forward to, here are the good, bad and possibly ugly aspects of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014.

Good: Depth

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    The Bolts are absolutely loaded with young talent. This year’s first-round draft pick, Jonathan Drouin, could be anywhere from a top-six forward to back in juniors. He isn’t the only prospect fighting for a spot.

    Players like Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Richard Panik and Andrej Sustr are fighting for roster spots and playing time. The depth will be a great asset throughout the season, especially with the injuries and slumps that teams tend to go through.

    However, with depth comes questions, and that could cause the good to turn bad.

Bad: Depth Chart

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    The Lightning have open competitions for the majority of the forward spots. The only players guaranteed a spot are Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and Valtteri Filppula.

    Eight of the 12 forward spots are wide open for the taking. That’s great for competition in the preseason, but the Bolts don’t want to run into a situation where they have too many questions and not enough answers.

    As successful as the Lightning’s AHL affiliate has been recently, Tampa Bay needs to bring that success to the big club.

Good: Revamped Coaching Staff

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    Tampa Bay’s coaching staff looks a lot different heading into the 2013-14 campaign. Jon Cooper has his first complete offseason with the Bolts, and two solid additions in George Gwozdecky and Rick Bowness round out the new staff.

    Cooper preaches creativity in the offensive zone, which could benefit the Lightning’s talented offense, but the defensive struggles have negated just about any positives from the past two seasons.

    It’s up to the new coaching staff to maintain a similar offensive performance while tightening up the defense.

Ugly: Realignment

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    Two teams that benefited very little from the NHL’s realignment are the teams in Florida. For the Lightning, things could get pretty ugly if trends continue. The Bolts are now a part of the Atlantic Division, which doesn’t point to good things.

    The Lightning went 5-9-1 last season against then-Northeast Division opponents. They were 7-12-1 against the same division in 2011-12.

    The other issue is the travel. Tampa Bay went 13-22-6 on the road in 2011-12 and a tragic 6-16-2 last year. It’s an opportunity for the Lightning to start fresh, but this could turn ugly in a hurry if the Bolts aren’t careful.

Good: Another Year of Thunder

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    The upcoming 2013-14 season means another season of Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos lighting the lamp on a consistent basis.

    With St. Louis’s career nearing an end and Stamkos’ career reaching its prime, Lightning fans should be excited for the upcoming games.

    With the possible addition of Jonathan Drouin to the top line, the Lightning could be near the top of the league in offense again. The Bolts have finished in the top 10 in goals per game in each of the past three seasons and look to continue with that trend in 2013-14.

    The 10-year anniversary for the Bolts could be a lot of fun for the fans.