Why The Tampa Bay Lightning Defense May Be Better In 2013-14

Throughout the offseason, many people have pointed to the Tampa Bay Lightning defense as an area they would have liked to see general manager Steve Yzerman address, either through the draft, or free agency. It is an area that many appear to have hoped would see a shakeup in light of the struggles that particular unit had a year ago. As we hit the two month mark before the first regular season game is played, and approximately just over one month before the team officially reports for training camp, the question has to be asked; what if the current group of defenseman is the group that ultimately takes the ice on opening night in Boston two months from now?

It is not too far-fetched a scenario to suggest that may be exactly what happens.

Before some get upset over that thought, there are a number of reasons why that may not be the worst idea for this team moving forward, at least in the short term.

One of the first reasons that come to mind is the idea that the schedule will return to near normal after the insanity of what it was a year ago with the lockout. With such a compressed schedule, back-to-back games, and the travel that went along with it, practice time was not what it normally is under a regular schedule. Yes, the Olympics will compress the schedule a bit in 2013, but it will be nothing close to the insanity we saw a year ago.

In addition to the schedule being more conducive to practice time in the 2013-14 season, it also means the team will have a full training camp. This has the potential to be huge for the defensive players on this roster. It will give Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and his staff an opportunity to install their system, and have plenty of time for the players to get used to it and understand it in the seven preseason games they will play before opening night.

One of the biggest, and maybe the least talked about reasons the defense could be better in 2013-14, could be credited to the hiring of associate coach Rick Bowness. Bowness is expected to work closely with the defense, and brings a wealth of NHL coaching experience that could potentially do wonders for this team moving forward. Bowness’ experience could really help both the veteran defenseman and some of the younger defenseman trying to find their way in the NHL.

At the end of the day, the frustration with a defense that struggled the way it did last season is understandable. At the same time, Steve Yzerman has shown that he will just about always show patience when it comes to major roster decisions. While it may be discouraging to some to not see the roster overhaul they want, why not see if some of these factors do have an impact on the final product in 2013?

When Yzerman spoke to the assembled media at prospect camp, he did not sound like someone looking to shake up the roster. He sounded like someone that wanted the players on the roster to play better.

What is the harm in seeing how the defense plays in the first 15-20 games and evaluating from there? It may not be the popular move, but it may be the right move.

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One Response to “Why The Tampa Bay Lightning Defense May Be Better In 2013-14”

  1. From:

    by tankerkevo on Jul 3, 2013 | 1:18 PM

    At the time Boucher was fired, it was stated by both Boucher and Yzerman that the situation didn’t work because of differences in philosophy. I have to believe that the philosophical difference existed in the defensive zone, and the mindset in camp this year and through out the season on how the team approaches defense is going to be drastically different than the past few seasons.

    Knowing this, it doesn’t make sense to re-tool the blue line.

    We saw some of this change immediately after Boucher left. Our points were providing a lot more more support along the boards in the offensive zone. As far as the defensive zone, I suspect the days of constantly seeing both dmen in the same corner, and neither playing the body, are over.

    So that said, first we must see how our current defensive corps plays the new system. Honestly, they have better odds of succeeding in the new scheme having had experience together rather than a re-tooled hodge-podge of players.

    I actually think our defensive capability is pretty solid. The number one thing that hurt us was our transition game. It was simple to the point of exploitable.

    Frankly, I side with Yzerman, I don’t think we had a personnel issue on defense, we had an issue with poor strategy; and hopefully that’s been addressed rightfully. I for one can’t wait to find out.

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