Coming off of two unorthodox campaigns through the 2019-20 and 2020-21 NHL seasons, the Bolts strive to repeat their success of the past two seasons. Coming up just short, the dynasty is still alive. Losing in the Stanley Cup Final to the Colorado Avalanche, does not defeat the “underdog mentality” that the Bolts demonstrated through the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals as-well as the Eastern Conference Finals. To never being up in the Quarterfinals series to being down two games to none in the Conference Finals, showed their championship experience through and through during their 2021-22 campaign. The Lightning look to repeat their tenure through the 2022-23 season.
Past three seasons the succession of the Tampa Bay Lightning are as follows:
2019-20 – 43-21-6 (92 points), 2nd in the Atlantic Division, Stanley Cup Champions
2020-21 – 36-17-3 (75 points), 3rd in the Central Division, Stanley Cup Champions
2021-22 – 51-23-8 (110 points), 3rd in the Atlantic Division, Lost in Stanley Cup Final
Additions and Departures
Additions: Phillippe Myers, Grant Mismash, Ian Cole, Haydn Fleury, Vladislav Nemestnikov
Losing Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta, the bolts had to fill in the role of their bottom pair on the blue line. Phillippe Myers, the 6 foot-5 defenseman from Moncton, Canada, prepares to play a key role on that bottom pair.
Coming the other way in the Ryan McDonagh trade, Myers has some big shoes to fill. Ian Cole, Two time Stanley Cup Champion, joins the Bolts blue line at age 33 looking to fight for another cup. Ian Cole previously spent his last season in Carolina where they were defeated by the New York Rangers in seven games. Haydn Fleury, the 6 foot-3 defenseman from Carlyle, Canada, prepares to compete for a role on the Bolts blue line. Likely, the former Kraken defenseman will play role as the seventh defenseman in the Bolts’.
Vladislav Nemestnikov, the two time bolt, returns to fill the role of the recently departed Ondrej Palat. Nemestnikov comes back into the bolts’ system looking to be a compliment to the top line of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Departures: Ryan McDonagh, Ondrej Palat, Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh coming over in the the blockbuster trade in 2018, McDonagh has been a x-factor to the Lightnings’ success on the back end. Putting up 99 points in 267 contests, the playoffs were no shorter of his importance. In 89 playoff games, he had put up 23 points and had averaged over 520 minutes of ice time during these memorable runs. The losing of the defenseman leaves huge shoes to fill on the second pair. Ondrej Palat recently signing with the New Jersey Devils is a huge loss for the Bolts. Drafted in the seventh-round in 2011, Palat has emerged as one of the biggest draft steals in NHL history. Putting up 423 points in 628 contests was a true compliment to Steven Stamkos his whole career. His playoff success towers over many. Although putting up 94 points in 138 playoff games, he recently broke the franchise record for most game winning playoff goals with 12. The Czech winger will be a huge loss for the Bolts going into the 22-23’ season.
The Expectations for the Bolts heading into the 2022-23 campaign were high. Making the Stanley Cup Final in each of the last three years, a playoff appearance is more than expected. The Core of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy has failed to miss the playoff just once in the past decade. With a ninty-one percent chance of making the postseason, they shy away as projected to finish third in the Atlantic Division. Over the years the championship mentality carried through this franchise has led them to succession. With that comes losses, losses that were big parts of these championship rosters. Role players such as Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman, Barclays Goodrow and Tyler Johnson, were key pieces through their cup wins in 2020 and 2021. They grouped up of a bottom-six forward group that could match with any line in the NHL. Despite these losses over the years, John Cooper’s Lightning look to repeat their success in the 2022-23’ season.
Through the opening month of the NHL season, The Lightning finished the month with a 5-4-0 record. Opening the season versus the New York Rangers, the Bolts did not jump off to a hot start. Losing 3-1 to the New York Rangers in season opener, the Bolts looked to bounce back against the Blue Jackets. The Bolts preceded to get their first win if the 22-23’ campaign in Columbus. Dropping the next two games in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the battle of Florida brought up a challenge. Brayden Point potting the game-winner in overtime set the pace for the Bolts leading into their home opener. After beating the Islanders 5-3, the Bolts were set to take flight for the three game California trip. Dropping the first game in LA, Nikita Kucherov leaded the way to win the final two games in Anaheim and San Jose. The Lightning sit 5th in the Atlantic Division with a goal differential of 0. The Bolts Rank 13th in 5 on 5 play, 15th on the PK with a 80.6 efficiency rate and 14th on the PP with a 23.5 efficiency rate.
What is there to improve in November?
The Lightning have 13 games coming up in November which leaves great room for improvement. However, they might not be the easiest matchups. Eleven of the thirteen games played in November will be against teams who previously made the playoffs last season. Having home ice advantage in seventy-seven percent of games in November, Cooper and the Lightning look to get to the top of the Atlantic. Through the years, the Lightning are known for not having the hottest starts, but November could change that narrative. Familiar faces such as Anthony Cirelli and Zach Bogosian are set to re-join the lineup in the month of November. Both practicing in non-contact jerseys as of October 31st, Bogosian aims a return as early as the first week of November. Cirelli aims to get back into the lineup after his shoulder surgery in July.
After a slower start to start the season, I have the bolts bouncing back in November to get up to at least 10th in the league once the November campaign comes to an end. I predict the bolts finishing the month with a 8-4-1 record sitting 3rd in the Atlantic Division. Since the 2010-11 season, The Lightning have had a .594 win percentage in the month of November. The Lightning look to replicate this starting on November 1st vs the Ottawa Senators.