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Do You Consider The Lightning A Cup Contender?

from Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times,

A year removed from being one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises, the Lightning is first in the Southeast Division and entered Monday second in the Eastern Conference. Had it beaten the lowly Devils on Sunday, it would have been tied for first.

And there is this: At 25-13-5, the Lightning has a better record and more points (55) after 43 games than any team in franchise history, including the winners of the 2004 Stanley Cup, who had 49.

“So, is it premature to say they are a Stanley Cup contender? I’m not so sure,” former NHL executive Craig Button said.

“You have to say they have as good a chance as anybody of winning the East,” said Scotty Morrison, an analyst for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. “Once they get past that, who knows? So, yeah, they have a legitimate shot at it.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink



Before the Roloson trade, I would have said no way. A high-powered offense can buoy the fourth-worst defense in the entire NHL through the regular season, but a team that gives up 3+ goals per game is going to sink like a rock come playoff time.

With Roloson, we’ll have a chance to see whether Tampa’s troubles in their own end are due to the team giving up too many high-percentage shots, or just plain crappy goaltending. If it’s the latter, then Roloson makes them an instant contender. If it’s the former, they’re screwed.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/11/11 at 06:25 AM ET

landsharkhockey's avatar

Sorry, but no.  Roloson is not the answer.  They should have held out for a Vokoun or tried for Kiprusoff.  The answer is no.

Posted by landsharkhockey on 01/11/11 at 10:21 AM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

Stupid if I didn’t chime in here, I guess…

Personally? I don’t see it. Now, could a few things fall their way down the stretch and a home ice spot in the playoffs boost their chances? Sure.

But, as much as I like the Dwayne Roloson acquisition, I’m not sold on the defense here and, while I think the Lightning will be a very good team the rest of the way, I just can’t see them as great yet.

Further, aren’t the odds inherently against them? I mean, come on… For all the good they’ve done under Yzerman and Boucher this year, they can’t really turn this thing all the way around in one year…

Can they?

I’d be surprised. It’d be fun around here… But I’d be very surprised.


Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 01/11/11 at 11:44 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

They could come out of the East, but they can’t win the Cup. I don’t even think they can get out of the East, because that would require all of the following to happen:
- The Caps to choke in the playoffs (again)
- The Flyers goalies to choke in the playoffs (again)
- The Pens to sustain a significant, long-term injury (Crosby concussion drags out, or Malkin gets hurt, or one of their top 3 d-men goes down)

They’ve already got “lucky” in the sense that Montreal—a pretty solid team—has been decimated on the blue line.

I think they could win a playoff series or two, but they will have to play one of the above three teams at some point to get to the Cup final.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/11/11 at 12:10 PM ET


Tampa’s future is bright. They’ve got a lot of the ‘difficult’ pieces in place.

Having said that, I don’t view them as a cup contender; there are too many holes. Their defense is probably below average and their bottom six forwards need an upgrade. When one of your checkers is -18, you don’t win a cup. Period.

Plus, it’s not known how well a 41 year old goalie will respond to the grind of the playoffs.

Everything in the world would have to go right for them to even get out of the first round (every other Eastern playoff team is much, much better at 5 on 5). Still, even making the playoffs is a big accomplishment considering the damage Len Barrie did to them over the last couple years.

Posted by StevieSteve on 01/11/11 at 12:20 PM ET

Heaton's avatar

Sorry, but no.  Roloson is not the answer.  They should have held out for a Vokoun or tried for Kiprusoff.  The answer is no

Why?  Neither Kiprusoff or Vokoun is that much better than Roloson. 

Secondly, yes, they are a cup contender.  They limit the amount of shots, have enough fire power and enough young legs.  Perhaps Yzerman could go for another defensive defensemen in the Brad Stuart-mold but they have enough to get through the East.

Posted by Heaton on 01/11/11 at 12:29 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I won’t say no either.  They need some things to come together for them still and would have to sustain that over a playoff run, but crazier things would happen.

If I had to rank the contenders based on what I believe their chances are, I’d put them easily behind Philly and Pittsburgh and slightly behind Washington.  Perhaps on par with Boston (who I probably should rank higher but can’t figure out why I don’t)

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/11/11 at 01:23 PM ET


I think there’s a difference between being a Cup contender and being a legitimate Cup contender.  Even after adding Roloson I’d say the Pens, Caps, Flyers, and B’s are all better in the East, and the Wings, Canucks, and Stars at least are all better in the West.

This year, anyway, the Lightning look like a round 1 and out team unless they get a matchup against a regular playoff choker like Washington or Boston.  Then, you never know.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 01/11/11 at 01:33 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

I’d be surprised. It’d be fun around here… But I’d be very surprised.
Posted by Jon Jordan

We were all a little surprised last year when the Conference final was MON/PHI.
Anything can happen, it could be Stevie is not done yet, we should wait for the trade deadline.
I don’t see any reason that Tampa couldn’t win the Conf/finals, especially if they happened to be
blessed by injuries and officiating in the playoffs.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 01/11/11 at 04:09 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

A contender in the Eastern Conference?  Yes.

A contender for the Cup?  Meh…

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 01/11/11 at 04:23 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Not yet, not with the current group of defensemen.  They’ll definitely compete for and in the playoffs, however, they certainly need stability defensively.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 01/11/11 at 05:21 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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