Eastern preview: Lightning look ahead, not back

Eastern preview: Lightning look ahead, not back
September 9, 2013, 8:00 am
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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

2012-13: 18-26-4, 40 points

Where they finished: 4th in the Southeast; 14th in the East; 28th in the NHL

Coach:  John Cooper (2nd season)

Key additions: C Valtteri Filppula, RW Geoff Walker, D Drew Olsen

Key subtractions: C Vinny Lecavalier, RW Benoit Pouliot, RW J.T. Wyman, D Brendan Mikkelson

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Jonathan Drouin – Steven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis

Ryan Malone – Valtteri Filpula – Teddy Purcell

Alex Killorn – Nate Thompson – Richard Panik

Ondrej Palat – Tyler Johnson – B.J. Crombeen

Defense

Victor Hedman – Sami Salo

Matt Carle – Radko Gudas

Eric Brewer – Andrej Sustr

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop – Anders Lindback

Our take:  The Lightning were a mess in last year’s shortened season and it cost straight-talking coach Guy Boucher his job. Led by Marty St. Louis’ league-high 60 points and Steven Stamkos’ 29 goals, Tampa ranked third in the NHL in goals scored but 26th in goals allowed.

Jon Cooper, a finalist for the Caps’ job last summer, took over for Boucher in late March but didn’t fare much better, going 4-8-3 down the stretch. General manager Steve Yzerman addressed his team’s porous defense by acquiring Valtteri Filppula, a strong, two-way centerman who will play behind Stamkos.

The Lightning also have the tallest goaltending tandem in the NHL with 6-foot-7 Ben Bishop and 6-foot-6 Anders Lindback and both goalies will battle for the No. 1 job.

The Lightning will be a tough opponent to stop this season but they’ll need to be far better defensively to crack the top eight in the conference, especially in their new Atlantic Division.

Offseason Grade:  C

Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14:  No.