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Ousted Lightning victims of your own success



COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Tampa Bay Lightning will be defined by their failure, swept out of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round by a

This is one way to look at them.

Here's the spin the lightning had after the Tuesday night's stunning 7-3 defeat in Game 4 of of the Columbus Blue Jackets team, some of which had a prayer of hanging with the Presidents' Trophy winners.

The Lightning has had 1

28 points in the regular season, with a percentage point of .780, the second-highest rate for 82-game season in NHL history, behind only the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (.799). They tied that Red Wings team with 62 wins, the most recorded in the 100-plus-year history of NHL hockey. They clinched a playoff spot after just 68 games and were coasting well before reaching that mark. They were not just winning – they were crushing opponents. They had the best power play and best penalty kill in the league, and they were the highest score scoring team (3.89) since Detroit in that 1995-96 season. Of their 62 wins, 30 were by a margin of three or more goals, which was tied for the most since 1992-93.

It all came so easily for Tampa Bay – until it did not.

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" When you have the amount of points we've had, it's a blessing and a curse, in a way. You do not play any meaningful hockey for a long time. Then all of a sudden, You have to ramp it up. It's not an excuse. It's reality, "Jon Cooper's" Lightning coach "said after Game 4." That's how it goes: You have a historic regular season, and we've had an historic playoff. "

Indeed , the Lightning made history in 2019 playoffs – just not the kind any coach would want. For the first time in the league history, a team with the most points in the regular season failed to win the game in open-round, seven-game series.

"If we had the answers, we would have found a way "It's sucks," captain Steven Stamkos said

There are some obvious factors behind the Lightning's stunning ending:

  • The Blue Jackets put on a defensive clinic in the series, playing 1-2-2 The forecaster was the slowest pace, owned by the neutral zone and never allowed the Lightning to find their way offensively. The Jackets had 30 takeaways in four games, while Tampa Bay had 21. "Columbus is pretty good at closing it down. They never did that in the regular season because they were always chasing us," Cooper said. "The last time we played here, we had a 5-1 lead, and they had completely outplayed us. We just scored every time we went down the ice."

  • The Blue Jackets goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky had the best postseason of his career , with a .932 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average. Even when the Lightning broke through Columbus defense, Bobrovsky made a key save. In contrast, Tampa Bay goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy finished the series with an .856 save percentage and 3.82 goals-against average.

  • Perhaps the biggest disparity was on special teams. The Lightning had the most effective power play since 1988-89 in the regular season at 28.1 percent. They were playing a team, however, that was short-handed the least time in the regular season. The Lightning scored once has just six power-play opportunities in this series; The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, were a stellar 5-for-10 with the man advantage. "No power plays. One PP in two games, it's tough. I do not know what to say," said Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's star winger who won the NHL scoring title this season.

Kucherov was suspended for Game 3 The Star Defenseman Victor Hedman played in the Games 1 and 2 and played in the final two games of the series.

Asked if this Lightning core can still capture a Stanley Cup at full strength, Stamkos said, "Yeah, we believe in it. But it's one thing to say it, and it's another to execute. They've executed a detailed game plan to slow us down, and we did not have a response to it. You have to Give them some credit. Everyone's going to talk about us losing the series, but they did a lot of good things. We just did not have an answer. "

This core was together when the lightning lost in the 2016 conference finals. , losing Games 6 and 7 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was together when they lost Games 6 and 7 (again) to the Washington Capitals last season. Against the Blue Jackets, they've squandered a 3-0 lead in Game 1 and never recovered after the Jackets rallied to win.

"I do not know," Cooper said when asked if there's a fundamental flaw in how the team handles adversity. "It's hard to win", "It's funny: We're expecting to go far this year, and we're going nowhere." In 2015, no one expected us to go anywhere, and we went far, with the same core of players.

"It's hard to win in this league. It's tough not to be holding the Stanley Cup at the end, but how many teams have gone through this? They knock at the door and knock at the door and then … you look at Washington, for example. They had two remarkable years and got bounced in the second round, and no one expected them to do anything, they won the Stanley Cup. "

From 6th October 2018 through April 6, 2019, the Lightning was

Then the playoffs started.

"We could not find our game. It's that clear. For six days in April, we could not find it, "Cooper said." It's unfortunate because it puts a blemish on what was one hell of a regular season. "

Added Stamkos:" If you do not accomplish the goal of winning it all, it's a failure. We do not care about what happened in the regular season. "


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