It’s officially time to press the panic button on the Tampa Bay Lightning. After making the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons, Tampa Bay responded with a Round One loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It wasn’t much of a surprise or a disappointment that they lost in the first round.

Given their impeccable run to three straight Stanley Cup Finals, Tampa Bay not making it once in three years shouldn’t be much of a story. However, this season is a major concern.

It hasn’t been an issue on the offensive side of the puck for the Lightning, rather their inability to keep the puck out of the net. In fact, they’ve scored the second-most goals in the Atlantic Division, the second-most in the Eastern Conference, and the fifth-most in the NHL.

Tampa Bay has five players within the top-33 of point scorers. Nikita Kucherov has the most in hockey with 47, while Brayden Point (31), Victor Hedman (27), Steven Stamkos (26), and Brandon Hagel (26) find themselves in the top-35.

It’s been impressive on that side, but there are two sides of the puck in the NHL.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the top goalies in the NHL. However, he had back surgery in September and returned to the ice on November 24. He’s played in seven games since then.

Vasilevskiy admits that he isn’t where he needs to be but has the confidence to prove he’s still the best goaltender in the league.

I was able to spend more time with family and take more rest and just focus on different things. And at the same time, I was able to kind of prepare myself for a season even more, and hopefully, it’ll help me along the way. … I think once you get more mature, you just see things differently. That helps a lot.

This season, the Lightning have given up 102 goals, which is the most in the Atlantic Division, second-most in the Eastern Conference, and third-most in the NHL.

Jonas Johansson was the lead goaltender in Vasilevskiy’s absence. He was one of the worst in hockey, allowing 3.47 goals per game and posting a save percentage of .891%.

With the top goalie in the NHL returning, it’s going to be interesting to see what they can do for the remainder of the season. The question remains if he can get back to full health and do what he’s done in the past.

There’s no layups in this league, but those three are some big-time teams to play against,” coach Jon Cooper said.And I thought he fought through it awesome. I think there was some unluckiness to his game, but there’s a little bit of rust. But he would play three exhibition games or whatever in the preseason, so you can just tell by his timing and his command and the net, all those things have been just getting better and better.

With a 13-11-5 record, things aren’t looking too bright for Tampa Bay.


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