Stock Up, Stock Down for Tampa Bay Lightning Top Stars
The Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have a roster full of stars, but they will need the handful present to put up solid performances over the last few weeks. The Lightning have sputtered out of the Olympic break, which has caused a big drop in the team’s stock, but the star players have had mixed results.
Coach Jon Cooper has his hands full keeping the team on the right side of the playoff picture. The Bolts hold the first wild-card spot, but that can change in a hurry. Detroit and New Jersey are just four points back of a playoff spot. It will be a fight from week to week for the postseason with the Bolts right in the heart of it.
The positives in this rough stretch of games (1-4-2 in the last seven) are that Steven Stamkos has returned and they have been able to pick up a point in the last two games. The slump can’t last forever, but to the Lightning community it feels like it already has.
With exactly one month of season left for the Bolts, here is the stock report for each Lightning star in the final month.
The Lightning’s biggest star is back on the ice, which increases his value exponentially, but there are some concerns that adversely affect his value. Steven Stamkos has played in three games since returning and is a minus-two in that span. He was plus-11 before the injury.
More concerning for the Bolts is his lack of shots. Production will come as he gets back into the pace of the NHL game, but the lack of shots is an issue. The sniper has eight shots in three games—his second-lowest total of the season.
Without Martin St. Louis to stretch the defense, Stamkos will have a harder time finding open ice. The Bolts need to find some way to get him more touches and more open looks in the final month.
Victor Hedman’s numbers are skewed due to an uncharacteristic rough stretch of games for the Bolts. Despite the 1-4-2 record since the Olympics, Hedman has managed to put up four points and is playing almost half of a game occasionally.
Hedman logs a ton of minutes and has been the Bolts’ best defenseman this season. He has been one of the most consistent players on the roster and will look to get his team back in the win column.
Tampa Bay still has 11 home games left this season so he will have familiar ice to control the puck.
Matt Carle has been one of the few Lightning players to maintain consistency in the box score and on the ice out of the break. Carle is a plus-three player since the Olympics, which is impressive since the Bolts haven’t fared well. His only negative-rated game was against St. Louis on March 4.
One minor concern for the Lightning is his lack of shots. Carle has had one shot on goal or less in six of the last seven contests. He isn’t relied upon as much to produce offensively, but with Stamkos’ production down, the Bolts need as much help on the attack as possible.
Consistency keeps Carle’s stock up.
Valtteri Filppula is warming back up for the Bolts following his absence from the Olympics due to an ankle injury. The center has recorded a point in the last two games after being held off the scoresheet in the first two after his return.
Filppula has been respectable in the faceoff circle recently going 35-for-64 in the last four games. He won nearly 60 percent of his draws against Phoenix on March 10. Filppula is another player that will be relied upon heavily to produce without St. Louis.
He is one of the few players on the Bolts that can create his own shot, which will be crucial in the final month.
It’s tough for Ben Bishop’s stock to go any higher than his Vezina Trophy-caliber season through early February. Looking simply at the statistics, it would be easy to point a finger at Bishop for the team’s struggles recently.
The steady goaltender has been lit up for at least three goals against in each of the last four games. However, the quality of scoring opportunities need to be addressed.
Tampa Bay is losing battles in front of the net for rebounds. They are giving up too many odd-man rushes. And they are turning the puck over near the blue lines. Basically, they are doing everything that they were able to avoid in the first few months of the season.
Bishop isn’t innocent in the lack of performance, but his play is reflective of the team playing in front of him. He has been able to make a ton of saves and salvage respectability against Boston and Phoenix.
Without Bishop, who knows what the final scores could have been over the last few games.
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