Lightning Season Sneak Peek: Champions Must Manage Fast Turnaround Time
The 2021-22 NHL season begins October 12. With the opening of training camps, NHL.com takes a look at the Three Keys, the scoop on roster issues and the planned lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Coach: Jon Cooper (10th season)
Last season: 36-17-3; third in the Discover Central division, won the Stanley Cup
1. Another quick turnaround
The Lightning won the Stanley Cup for a second straight season with a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on July 7. It was 282 days after winning the Stanley Cup on September 28, 2020 with a 2-0 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 6 of the Finals. Winning back-to-back championships comes at a price: The Lightning have played the most games and had the fewest days off of any team since the NHL resumed the 2019-20 season after a hiatus from the coronavirus. Their ability to manage rest and recovery this season, especially in the first few months, will go a long way in determining how ready they are to compete in a third straight championship.
2. Replacing the front depth of the last six
Recreating what the Lightning lost on its third row will be a challenge. They signed forward Corey perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to replace part of the lost depth. They will rely heavily on Ross colton and Mathieu Joseph. Yanni Gourde, Blake coleman and Barclay goodrow, who were the Lightning’s third line, the one who started games regularly to set the tone and played a lot late in close games, they are all gone. Gourde was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL expansion draft. The Lightning couldn’t afford to keep Goodrow and Coleman due to the NHL salary cap. Goodrow, who could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 28, was traded to the New York Rangers on July 17 and signed with them on July 22. Coleman left as an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Calgary Flames on July 28. Tyler johnson, a scoring threat on the Tampa Bay fourth line, has been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks.
3. Stay hungry
The Lightning need to maintain the championship momentum they’ve had over the past two seasons. They were motivated to win the Cup again last season because they were playing in front of their fans. They won the 2020 Cup in the Edmonton bubble without fans. The Lightning got what they wanted by being able to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship at home at the Amalie Arena. Their ability to play with that same burning desire to win, that win-at-any-cost mentality, will be a storyline to follow throughout the season and into the playoffs.
Video: Tampa Bay Lightning 2021-22 season preview
SUMMARY OF THE LIST
The main competition is at the bottom of the front depth table with Alex Barre Boulet, Gemel smith, Taylor raddysh and Boris Katchouk competing for an opening. The Lightning could keep two and have one as the 13th attacker.
Andrej Sustr try to dislodge Cal Foote at the bottom of the defender depth chart.
Most intriguing addition
Perry signed a two-year contract with the Lightning on July 29. The forward has lost to the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final over the past two seasons, with Dallas in 2020 and Montreal last season. The 36-year-old always plays with a physical advantage and has a punchy touch, especially around the net. He is expected to become a major striker in the last six.
The biggest potential surprise
Barre-Boulet could be part of the answer for the third line if he can be an effective 200-foot, 5-on-5 forward. The Lightning could have Colton and Joseph with Barre-Boulet, leaving a fourth row of Bellemare, Perry and Pat maroon. Barre-Boulet scored three goals in 15 games last season. He scored 136 points (69 goals, 67 assists) in 144 American Hockey League games with Syracuse.
Ready to drill
Colton should be a regular after playing every Stanley Cup Playoff game. He scored the deciding goal in Game 5 against the Canadiens. It was his fourth playoff goal after scoring nine in 30 regular season games. Gourde’s departure opens the door for Colton to have a more important role.
Colton (not drafted on average in fantasy) is expected to play a bigger role for the Lightning this season. He scored nine goals in 30 games last regular season, led Tampa Bay in goals by 60 minutes (1.63) and had more than one hit per game (36) mostly on the fourth line. Colton will likely start with the third unit, but well worth a deep-class draft draft for a stable plus / minus (plus-3 last regular season; plus-4 in the Stanley Cup playoffs) and a untapped potential. – Pete Jensen
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Alex killorn – Antoine Cirelli – Steven stamkos
Alex Barre Boulet – Ross Colton – Mathieu Joseph
Pat Maroon – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Corey Perry
Victor hedman – Jan Rutta
Ryan mcdonagh – Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev – Zach Bogosian