5 Keys for Tampa Bay Lightning to Finish Strong in 2013-14 NHL Regular Season
The Tampa Bay Lightning have started to sputter heading into the last week of the 2013-14 regular season. Tampa Bay has dropped three of its last four games and will need a few things to improve in order to close out the regular season strong.
The Bolts have had an up-and-down season since returning from the Olympic break. Tampa Bay had one win in the first seven games out of the break. They followed that up with five straight wins. Fast-forward another couple weeks, and the Lightning are on the unfavorable side of momentum.
With four games left in the regular season, the Bolts will continue to fight for home ice in the opening round of the playoffs. If they are going to secure that, here are the five keys to that strong finish.
Relieve the Pressure
It doesn’t matter who your goaltender is; if you allow weak turnovers in your own zone, things won’t turn out well. Watching the Lightning over the last week, it's clear there's been a shooting gallery on their goaltenders.
It isn’t so much the number of shots as it is the quality shots given up. Tampa Bay is back to making blind passes in its own zone, which cost them big against the Dallas Stars on April 5.
Ben Bishop has been great for the Lightning this season, but even he will give up goals against uncontested shooters in high-quality scoring areas. The Lightning need to relieve the pressure in their own zone before worrying about making the big play.
Back to Basics
All Eyes On...Cally?
Pressure Makes Diamonds
Avoid the Sin Bin
The Lightning’s penalty kill is tied for 22nd in the league. That aspect of their game clearly isn’t a strong suit, so taking unnecessary penalties really hinders this team. We’re all looking directly at you, Radko Gudas (See: Dallas Stars, April 5).
Eliminating all penalties would be nice, but unrealistic. Sometimes a penalty has to be taken to prevent a quality scoring chance. Other times, the Lightning find themselves out of position, chasing and sometimes retaliating to put themselves in shorthanded situations.
The Lightning are one of the best five-on-five teams in the league. It seems simple enough, but they need to stay out of the penalty box. Don’t rely on the shorthanded goal to spark the team.
The Bolts have a week left before heading into the second season. They have a few things to address in this final week of tuneup games.
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