The Hottest and Coldest Tampa Bay Lightning Right Now

Eric Steitz@esteitz16Analyst IIIJanuary 20, 2014

The Hottest and Coldest Tampa Bay Lightning Right Now

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning have maintained their outstanding pace early in 2014. Tampa Bay is tied for the Atlantic Division lead with 63 points and can thank a few certain individuals for their continued success in the new calendar year.

    The Lightning have exceeded expectations this year and, despite injuries, have kept themselves in a dangerous spot for the postseason. Without the NHL's best goal scorer, the Lightning have the 11th-best offense in the league.

    Their defense has improved drastically, which has minimized the effect of the injuries this year. There are some individuals who have performed at great levels in 2014 and some who haven't been treated well by the new calendar year.

Hot: Martin St. Louis

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    Martin St. Louis has absolutely carried this Lightning team. He has only broadened his shoulders in 2014. Against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 18, St. Louis had his first four-goal game. The Bolts weren't able to secure the win, but that doesn't take much away from his stellar individual accomplishments.

    In the past 14 days, St. Louis has eight goals, four assists and five power-play points. He has been superb for the Lightning this year and looks like he may have additional seasons left in the tank.

Cold: Ryan Malone

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    Ryan Malone's production had been slumping for the past few years. He hasn't done much to earn the $4.5 million cap hit. The 2014 campaign hasn't done much to change the minds of the Lightning faithful.

    Malone has just 11 points this year and is an even rating. In January, he has just three points—two coming on goals against Philadelphia. He has registered just one shot or less in eight games this month.

    With such a dominant offense, Malone hasn't fit in well this season.

Hot: Teddy Purcell

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    Teddy Purcell seems to have rung in the new year on a high note. The Lightning winger has 31 points this year—11 of them in January. Purcell had four multi-point games in the first three months of the year. He has three multi-point games already in the first month of 2014.

    The undrafted winger scored in eight of the Bolts' 11 January games so far, including a solid goal against Carolina on Jan. 19. His production will only make the team more dangerous with the return of Steven Stamkos.

Cold: Anders Lindback

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    Anders Lindback's 2013-14 season as goaltender 1B hasn't gone as planned. The 2014 portion of the campaign didn't help much, either. It's tough to criticize a player who doesn't play on a daily basis—especially a position like goaltender that requires consistency.

    Unfortunately for Lindback, he has been unable to find his niche in net—even in limited time. He has given up one goal or less in just one start this year. He has given up 16 goals in five January starts and continues to fight the puck. 

    If Ben Bishop cools off a bit, Lindback will need to heat up, especially down the stretch in preparation for the postseason. 

Hot: Matt Carle

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    If Matt Carle were on a team that received a ton of media attention, he could be viewed as a candidate for the Norris Trophy. Unfortunately, Carle plays in a warm-weather market. The Lightning blueliner has just one goal this year, but he has been a great value to the team.

    Carle is plus-15 this year. He started 2014 with points in seven straight games and in eight games out of 11. In the Lightning's 6-3 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 11, Carle was plus-six.

    If it weren't for Victor Hedman, Carle would be the Lightning's most valuable defenseman. He has been the best performer on the blue line in 2014.