The Tampa Bay Lightning's season has been buoyed by a quality team effort and some outstanding individual efforts as well. Unfortunately, there are also going to be the handful of disappointments on any team, and the Lightning have theirs, too.
The ups and downs come with the job description, but there are some that have had more downs than ups. Despite injuries, the Bolts have managed to maintain a strong playoff position. Players like Martin St. Louis, Valtteri Filppula, Victor Hedman, Teddy Purcell and Ben Bishop have shouldered a heavy load this season and rose to the occasion. On the other hand, players like Brett Connolly, Anders Lindback and Pierre-Cedric Labrie haven't carried their loads well this season.
Brett Connolly has gone through an interesting path to the NHL already. He broke into the NHL two seasons ago, appearing in 68 games with 15 points, and appeared to be a shoe-in for a permanent position with the Bolts. It didn't work that way.
Connolly spent the majority of the 2012-13 season in the AHL, appearing in just five games for the Lightning in one of the most interesting storylines of last season. He hasn't done anything to solidify a full-time spot this year either.
The sixth-overall pick in 2011 has just one point in 11 games this year and is minus-five. Only Richard Panik has a lower plus/minus rating (minus-seven). Connolly needs to take advantage of the injury situation and light the lamp a few times.
The Lightning were supposed to have a goaltending controversy this season. That hasn't been the case, and Anders Lindback has taken a back seat. It hasn't been entirely his fault, but Lindback hasn't helped his cause either.
In games Lindback starts, the Bolts seemingly struggle with keeping pucks out of their own net. He has been the victim of defensive breakdowns on more than one occasion, but somehow, his counterpart Ben Bishop has found a way to make saves.
Obviously, no young goaltender wants to be a career backup. Unfortunately, with a deep goaltending group, the Bolts may see Lindy as an expendable piece in the near future. He is 2-5 with a .876 save percentage and an unfortunate victim of shoddy play in front of him.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie (or affectionately, Nacho) signed a new contract in the offseason and also looked like he was going to be an every day player for the Bolts. He's a third- or fourth-line player with his physical edge and defensive ability, but that hasn't been the case this year.
Labrie has played in just two games over the last month—against the Rangers on Nov. 25 and Kings on Nov. 19. He has appeared in just 12 games this season and has put only two shots on goal. Obviously, he wasn't expected to be a scorer, but two shots is a bit alarming.
Considering all of the injuries in the lineup, Labrie should have been getting bigger minutes. He is averaging just under seven minutes per game. If things don't turn around for Labrie soon, those minutes could disappear, too.