May. 27, 2018
Lightning season ends with a whimper
I was just as shocked, frustrated, and outraged, just like the majority of Lightning fans were that after leading the series 3-2, they let a Capitals team come back and beat them two straight to win the series 4-3.
After looking back at the series, the Lightning was the more talented and deeper team, but was outplayed by a Capitals team that had more heart, desire, drive, and just wanted it more than the Lightning.
Braden Holtby outplayed the Lightning’s Vezina Trophy nominee Andrei Vasilevskiy in the series. Yes Vasilevskiy was outstanding In Games three, four and five, but when it counted and when it was money time, Vasilevskiy was outplayed by Holtby.
Who would have thought the Lightning who led the league in scoring during the regular season, would not score a goal the last two games, and the last seven periods in the series.
The biggest reason the Capitals are playing for the Stanley Cup and not the Lightning is due to the fact they just wanted it more.
The Capitals won the battle for loose pucks, they were aggressive on the forecheck, they were the more physical team throughout the series. Game 5 in Washington the Lightning got physically mauled like I have not seen. The Capitals took every chance they could to lay a hit on a Lightning player, and the Lightning had no answer and that was disappointing.
I’ve been watching sports a long time and the more talented team does not always win. A team that has hustle, shows a lot of heart, does the little things well and takes advantage of their opponents mistakes is going to win the series the majority of the time. The Capitals did all of the above against the Lightning.
Although the season ended in a way that was unthinkable, there was a lot to celebrate about this lightning team.
The team set a franchise record with 113 points. The development and blossoming of the young players continued. Braydon point was a first time all-star, Yanni Guarde came into his own this season. Tony CIrelli‘s game improved as the season went along as he received more minutes Down the stretch.
JT Miller came in at mid-season and contributed right away and should be a fixture on this team for a while. Nikita Kucherov had his first 100 point season, Victor Hedman continues to be one of the top defensemen in the NHL and is a Norris Trophy finalist for the second year in a row.
So another season quietly comes to end for the Lightning. The pieces are in place to be Stanley Cup contenders for a while. Yzerman will have a few things to work on this summer. The defense has to improve. It was too porous at times this season. The PK has got to be better. That was a real problem all through the season, and of course was magnified during the playoff run. The PP needs to be more consistent.
The Lightning will now have all summer to think about what could have been and should been. I believe the Lightning will learn from this loss and use this experience to make them a better team. This team will be back in 2018-19 and will again be Stanley Cup contenders. Count on it.