5-on-5: Five Ways The Lightning Will Be Better in 2014-2015
5-on-5 is a segment that looks quickly into things such as players, games and streaks.
The Tampa Bay Lightning took the NHL by surprise this past season and charged their way up into a playoff berth and a second place finish in the Atlantic Division.
Yes, they got to the playoffs but they also got swept by the MontrealCanadiens, meaning they still have some work to do if they want tohold up Lord Stanleys chalice.
Here are five ways the team will be better than their 2013-2014 counterpart.
Seeing OndrejPalatand Tyler Johnson receive nominations for the Calder Trophy is nice but it would be even better if they improve upon their seasons. Although that may not happen, having a solid season from them along with J.T. Brown,AlexKillornandRadkoGudas, the team will only get better. The youth have their first full season completed and now the former rookies know what to expect in a full NHL season and a postseason as well.
SteveYzermanmade some big moves this offseason and addressed some needs defensively. He brought in Jason Garrison on the eve of the NHL Draft and got Anton Stralmanin free agency. He also let 38-year old defenseman SamiSalowalk.Stralmanis a definite upgrade overGudasandSalowith all due respect. He will probably be used to help fix MattCarle, who had a rough season last year. Garrison is also a good move as he can help on special teams and quarterback the power play. These moves allowGudasto play in a more comfortable role in the defense and eat up minutes that would normally go toSalo,Gudasand Eric Brewer and keep down the liabilityfactor.
Ben Bishop may have played above his head last year but keep in mind, that some of his decline was after he suffered a wrist injury and he was still able to post 37 wins for the Bolts. He also was unavailable for the postseason too. Now his injury was from a collision before the Olympic break and well if he can avoid that, heshould begood to go. Will he post the same numbers that he had last season? Maybe, maybe not but he should at least be able tooffersolid depth. Along with Bishop isEvgeniNabokov.Nabokovwill helpgivespot relief for the team, which should prevent Bishop from being overused as he was last season. Not saying thatNabokovwill take over the starting job but heshould beable to spot start well.
When the young players came up it left a bit of avacuumwhen it came to veteran experience in the locker room and thatvacuumneededto befilled.Yzermanwent ahead and addressed it by adding a few players to the mix. One is Ryan Callahan, who does bring a lot of leadership experience. Callahanhas been injuredin the past and hasnt completed a full season but he does bring a lot of intangibles to the Lightning and gives them a bit of a different look from their highly-skilled lacking size forwards that they usually have. Another one is Brian Boyle. Boyle wasnt brought in to replace Nate Thompson but just to take up a roster spot for it. He is a great penalty kill guy and has the size thatYzermanwas searching for during free agency.
Unafraid of the consequences
Many can agree that SteveYzermanmakes moves as a GM with purpose. Sometimes those moves will look poorly on him such as the Guy Boucher hiring, DwayneRoloson-MatheiuGarongoalie tandem. Others such as the Martin St. Louis trade, VincentLecavalierbuyout and trading Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson, B.J.Crombeenand SamGagnermay cause the fans anguish but were really good moves. The point is,Yzermanisnt afraid of the consequences of some of his moves. He will do what he feels is best for the team and that can make a GM dangerous.
Look no further than the Calgary Flames, GM JayFeasterhad his hands tied because he knew he needed a rebuild and was unable to tradeJaromeIginlafor the best deal and ownership still wanted him to compete.Yzermandoesnt face a situation like that and it means that there is no red tape when it comes to hisdecision-making.
All-in-all, the Lightning have a lot of good positive things to feel about this season and the next but ultimately it still comes down to their performance on the ice.