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NHL

Tampa Bay Lightning

Division: SoutheastGM: Steve YzermanHead Coach: Guy Boucher
2011-12: 38-36-8 (10th in East)
Goals For232 (T-8th)
Goals Against278 (30th)
Powerplay %15.2 (25th)
Penalty Kill %79.3 (26th)

Last Season

The Lightning took a serious tumble in 2011-12 and a lot of the blame could be squarely placed in the crease.

After coming within a game of the Cup Final in 2010-11, time finally caught up with Dwayne Roloson and the combination of Mathieu Garon, Dustin Tokarski and Sebastian Caron were unable to help right the ship in time to salvage the season.

As expected, the team will likely lean heavily on Steven Stamkos to carry the load offensively - something the two-time Rocket Richard Trophy-winner is prepared to take on - but can the Bolts keep the puck out of their own net this year?



Season Outlook

Prospect Watch

The Lightning hopped on the run of defencemen taken early in the 2012 draft, taking Slater Koekkoek ahead of more vaunted prospects such as Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko and Cody Ceci. The Peterborough product missed significant time with a shoulder injury last season but was viewed early on as one of the draft's top prospects. He's returned to the Petes in 2012-13 to rank among the OHL's top 10 blue line scorers, despite playing on one of the league's worst teams.

Behind Koekkoek there's a pair of Russians from the 2011 draft in Vladimir Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov, the latter of the two forming a potent combination with Nail Yakupov at the 2013 World Juniors.

The team will also count on the continued NHL development of 2010 first-rounder Brett Connolly.

The Upside

The Lightning were aggressive and got one of the top available young netminders, engineering a deal with the Predators for their big Swedish back-up Anders Lindback. He was stuck behind Pekka Rinne last season and was too talented to sit on the Predators' bench. The Lightning - with a glut of second-round picks - swooped in and avoided addressing their crease through the relatively weak free agent goalie market. They also addressed their defensive corps with the additions of veterans Salo and Carle.

The Downside

Lindback - while massive in stature and high in potential - has played a total of 38 career NHL games. The Lightning are hoping he can respond to starter's responsibilities, but they have no precedent for how he'll perform over a six-month schedule.

Keeping Busy

A look at where Lightning players went during the lockout:

Keith Aulie (Syracuse, AHL), Mark Barberio (Syracuse, AHL), J.T. Brown (Syracuse, AHL), Cory Conacher (Syracuse, AHL), Brett Connolly (Syracuse, AHL), Adam Hall (Ravensburg, German League - T2), Victor Hedman (Barys Astana, KHL), Anders Lindback (Ilves, Finnish Elite), Brendan Mikkelson (Vasteras, Swiss Elite)

Game 3: Avalanche at Wild (TSN)

Tonight at 7pm et/4pm pt

Game 3: Ducks at Stars (TSN)

Tonight at 9:30pm et/6:30pm pt


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Western Conference

(1) COL 2, (WC) MIN 0 (1) ANA 2, (WC) DAL 0
(2) STL 2, (3) CHI 0 (2) SJ 2, (3) LA 0


Eastern Conference

(1) BOS 1, (WC) DET 1 (1) PIT 1, (WC) CLB 1
(2) TAM 0, (3) MON 3 (2) NYR 1, (3) PHI 1


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