Mar 13, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT
This headline format, originally conceived by Jason “The Cooler” Brough, has been a total jinx this season — the Stars, Wild, Flyers and Canucks all lost after writing — so apologies in advance to you Bolts fans out there.
But hey, call it like you see it. Tampa Bay really needs a win tonight against the Panthers.
The Lightning have lost five straight, three since ex-captain Martin St. Louis was dealt to the Rangers at the deadline, and head into tonight with 75 points, holding the first of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.
The Bolts are sitting in that wild card position because of their 2-6-2 record over their last 10 games, which triggered a noticeable drop in the standings. Prior to the Olympic break, Tampa Bay sat second in the Atlantic and just seven points back of Boston for top spot. Today? They’re 16 back of the Bruins and have been surpassed by both Toronto and Montreal in the division.
Reason for the slide are aplenty.
St. Louis is gone and the guy he was traded for, Ryan Callahan, is trying to adjust to a new team. Adjustments have also affected Steve Stamkos‘ return to the lineup — out since Nov. 11 with a broken leg, Stamkos made his return on Mar. 6 and has gone scoreless in three games, despite playing at least 21 minutes in each.
“For me, a lot of it is still a mental thing going into certain situations, certain areas on the ice where before the injury I’m already thinking of my next play before the puck comes,’’ Stamkos explained, per the Tampa Tribune.
“Now you are thinking of what you have to do to brace yourself for contact and then make the play. Whether that’s half a second or a second, that’s a big difference in this league. So, I’m trying to get over that.”
There is positive news on the horizon, though. Hard-hitting defenseman Radko Gudas will draw back in tonight against Florida after missing the last four games with a leg injury, while veteran blueliner Sami Salo has declared himself fit after getting hurt and playing just three minutes against Phoenix on Monday.
If there’s one other good thing, it’s tonight’s opponent. Tampa Bay is 3-0-0 against the Panthers this season, outscoring ‘em 16-6.
- Red-hot Quick sets new Kings’ franchise shutout record 1
- Reports: Chara could miss at least 4-6 weeks with knee injury 5
- Video: Red Wings’ stars stun Penguins with late surge 9
- Report: Isles’ Bailey out indefinitely after breaking hand 1
- Dale Hunter: Ovechkin isn’t going to win the Selke, but he’s ‘coachable’ 13
- Voynov case: D.A. wants ‘additional follow-up’ from police before deciding on charges 20
- Video: Two quick third-period goals propel Flyers over rival Penguins 82
- Video: Pittsburgh pays tribute to Ottawa tragedy with O Canada rendition 15
- Video: McKenzie talks latest from Ottawa shootings, Voynov investigation 0
- WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh vs. Philly on Rivalry Night 3
- Source: Lucic fined $5k for gesture vs. Habs (Confirmed) (121)
- Video: Two quick third-period goals propel Flyers over rival Penguins (82)
- Updated: Kings’ Voynov arrested for domestic assault, suspended indefinitely (78)
- Babcock: ‘Price definitely initiates contact’ in disallowed Datsyuk goal (59)
- ‘It’s stupid': Tempers flare after Kesler’s late charge on Granlund (54)