Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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After 25 Games, The Lightning Strike Rarely
Posted Dec 5, 2008 by Ira Kaufman
Updated Dec 5, 2008 at 11:18 AM
Despite an ownership change, a roster overhaul and the firing of Coach Barry Melrose, the Lighting are still arguably the worst team in the National Hockey League.
After Thursday night’s 3-1 home loss to the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay is 1-4-4 under interim coach Rick Tocchet, who was supposed to inject some enthusiasm and a different approach.
Instead, the Lightning find themselves with an NHL-low six wins after 25 games. No club has scored fewer goals, and no team has a more-lopsided goal differential.
And all this misery comes despite the outstanding work of young goaltender Mike Smith, who ranks fifth in the NHL with a .928 save percentage.
Meanwhile, discarded defenseman Dan Boyle has helped the San Jose Sharks to the league’s best record. Tampa Bay’s former sparkplug ranks second among defensemen with 23 points while averaging more than 23 minutes per game.
Melrose has returned to his ESPN analyst gig in Bristol, Conn., where he will be paid to comment on Boyle’s stellar play and the ongoing travails of the Lightning, who just lost to a Boston team that was missing three of its top four defensemen.
At this point, you have to wonder whether Vinny Lecavalier has any regrets about signing a long-term contract to remain in Tampa and be the face of a franchise that is floundering in the early stages.
Given the penchant of new ownership to make sweeping changes, we could see some significant personnel moves by the start of the new year.