The Lightning’s offseason started late Thursday night when the final buzzer eventually sounded at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center. Despite a pretty solid effort for the first two rounds of the playoffs and into the Eastern Conference Finals, the Lightning’s regular season warts reared their ugly heads as the Pens series progressed.
After last season’s run to the finals the Lightning believed that defense was the way to go further this year — and it almost worked. They spent the entire regular season focused on team defense and conservative counter attacks. The club was called “boring” many times during the regular season, and their league-leading offense from the previous year fell to mediocrity. Add to that inconsistent effort nearly every week – usually in the first period. “It’s a 60-minute game” was said ad nauseum, and eventually the Lightning, with a 3-2 series lead on Pittsburgh, only played with an attacking mindset the third periods of Game 6 and Game 7. Those four periods when they sat back and trusted their defensive structure – in and of itself not a horrible decision – cost them.
This week’s “Aaron Gavey Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 68
· Most gruesome injury in Lightning history?
· New affiliate in the family
· Youth keeping Lightning in Cup quest
· Koekkoek climbs another rung of depth chart ladder
· Stamkos question still burning
· Two strategic RFA prospect signings
· The No. 67
· Pitt-TB review and why Game 3 was so important
· Meat vests
· The team can win with Vasy
· Vasy vs Bishop
· #BPMailbag (Core players … Annoying comments … How big is the Cup window? … Fast-forwarding prospects)
This week’s “He Who Plays for a Team that Shan’t Be Named Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 66
· Flightless birds lack intelligence
· Conference Final will be determined by…
· Koekkoek’s made his move
· Zettler out in Syracuse; what went wrong?
· Groulx brings energy, expectations to Crunch
This week’s “Vladdy Namestnikov Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· The No. 65
· Project picks & Vladdy's future
· Keys to NYI series win haven’t changed
· The burning Drouin question
· The burning Stamkos question
· Interviews with Black Aces Koekkoek, DeAngelo, Blujus, and Erne
· The No. 64
· Biggest jersey fail in Lightning history
· Red Wings review
· NYI Game 1 recap – Should we Panik?
· Who wears the goat horns for Game 1?
· A new intangible for Ryan Callahan
· Next step for each Black Ace
The #BPMailbag returns as a text edition this week, right in the thick of the playoffs.
Let’s get started…
@BoltProspects why did #tblightning take Brian Hart instead of [ghost][bear]?
Let the record show this is the first #BPMailbag question asked with emojis. The Lightning took Brian Hart with their second 2012 second-round pick (the team’s fourth pick), at 53 overall. Hart was a 6-3 center coming off a 32-goal, 68-point season in just 29 games for Phillips Exeter Academy. He was a big athlete (soccer star) with good hands and high-end production.
They had already taken defensemen Slater Koekkoek (lefty) at 10 and Dylan Blujus (righty) at 40, with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy at 19. It made sense to go with a forward there, and with their fourth pick, they could swing for the fences. The draft is a crapshoot as it is, but high schoolers are the wild cards of wild cards. You just don’t know if they’re going to be a star or if their numbers are just inflated due to competition. It made sense to swing for the fences there. Gostisbehere (lefty) went at 78, so the Lightning technically took Tanner Richard before him, too (and Philly took two others before him).
· The No. 63
· Tampa Bay’s Johnson
· Drouin 2.0: validation or relief?
· What’s working for TB?
· Reasons to chew your fingernails
· Black Aces review and analysis
· Interview with Jeff Tambellini
Note: Latest edition of the #BPMailbag will be a text edition, posted Thursday afternoon.
The Syracuse Crunch resorted to desperate hockey late in the season.
Despite a promising start, midseason injuries and call-ups left the lineup scrambling, forcing some players to play out of position and outside of their normal roles. A nine-game slide in January and February made the chances of a playoff berth a longshot, but the Crunch rallied with 18 out of 24 possible standings points in March.
Ultimately, the late season push came too late. The Crunch couldn’t keep the frantic pace and finished fourth place in the North Division with 79 points (32-29-11-4), eight away from a playoff spot.
“I don’t think we played desperate hockey early enough in the season,” Crunch forward Tanner Richard said. “It’s a good lesson for me and every other guy that’s here … You can’t wait until the last 15 or 20 games to make your playoff push. The points at the start of the season are worth the same as the ones at the end of the season, and the ones at the end are harder to get.”
This week’s “Andrei Nazarov Edition" of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· No. 62
· Game 1 recap
· Bizarro World Cooper
· Syracuse newbies
· Interview with Matt Spencer