Playoff embarrassment have to be Lightning tipping level

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So the playoffs have change into precisely the free-for-all the NHL has tried to engineer for years. However it’s far too simple to permit Tampa Bay and Calgary, first-seed losers, off the hook by citing some amorphous idea of randomness. Nicely, actually Tampa Bay.

The Flames, blitzed in 5 by the Avalanche regardless of heroics by Mike Smith in objective, are a special case than the Lightning, having come primarily from nowhere (84 factors final 12 months and one playoff spherical victory since 2004) to submit 107 factors and win their division with an up-tempo, assault mentality that grew to become reckless underneath event and Colorado strain.

Calgary younger weapons Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have been nowhere to be discovered, whereas Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (as dynamic a expertise as there may be on this league), Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have been all over the place doing all the things. That’s clearly a simplistic overview of the five-game sequence that resulted in a 5-1 rout on their residence ice Friday, however the Flames merely weren’t prepared for the second. A disgrace, however no disgrace, for it’s early of their evolution.

The Lightning, however, effectively, the Presidents’ Trophy winners embarrassed themselves, imploding underneath the duress inflicted by a hungry band that reasserted a junkyard-dog mentality and identification largely misplaced since that 16-game profitable streak halfway by 2016-17 whereas buttressed by high-end expertise and sensible work from my pal behind the Columbus bench.

Tampa Bay is now in that candy and bitter spot occupied by many massive time groups all through NHL historical past that stubbed their toes simply as they have been about to scale the summit. Some made it to the highest. Others fell off the precipice to their demise. Not one of the profitable groups, opposite to standard opinion, merely stayed the course.

Lightning
Braydon Coburn of the Lightning knocks down Brandon DubinskyGetty Pictures

The Purple Wings of the ’90s are sometimes cited as a precedent by which the Lightning can take solace — Detroit having misplaced a surprising 1-Eight first-round to San Jose in 1994 earlier than getting stunningly swept by the Devils within the 1995 Cup finals and being pummeled by the Avalanche within the 1996 convention finals within the NHL’s Final Vicious Collection. The Purple Wings, in fact, then received the Cup in 1997 and 1998.

However although Detroit didn’t blow the entire thing up, within the parlance of the day, the group made a dramatic transfer that turned the workforce from marshmallow abilities into a group of males of metal, and that was the commerce for Brendan Shanahan a few days into 1996-97. Shanahan merely modified the course of historical past for the Purple Wings, who by no means would have received with out him.

When the Islanders of the late ’70s have been first bullied out of the 1978 event by the Maple Leafs then taken out by the Rangers within the well-known 1979 Battle of New York, there was a lot chatter about Al Arbour’s incapability to win massive video games. Radar was by no means questioned once more as soon as normal supervisor Invoice Torrey pulled the history-making commerce for Butch Goring on the 1980 deadline that triggered the dynasty.

The Capitals, who stumbled repeatedly climbing the rungs over the earlier decade-plus since Alex Ovechkin’s arrival in D.C., made three teaching adjustments — from Bruce Boudreau to Dale Hunter to Adam Oates to Barry Trotz — between their first pratfall in 2010 as pre-shootout 121-point, Presidents’ Trophy first-round losers in seven to Montreal and their Cup victory a 12 months in the past.

So no, none of those groups received with out making dramatic adjustments.

The lack of Victor Hedman, clearly compromised earlier than he missed the final two video games, performed a task, and so did Julien BriseBois’ failure to fortify the depth on protection on the deadline. We’re informed the freshman GM was greater than a bit snooty in fielding calls on the time, however the absence of a greater seventh defenseman was not dispositive within the sequence.

Ryan McDonagh, who had such a very good 12 months, was dreadful. By the way in which, bear in mind when J.T. Miller was going to supply the gifted Tampa’s the grit and bodily aspect to create the time and area obligatory to achieve the postseason? No? Lightning coach Jon Cooper in all probability doesn’t both.
The Lightning have been crushed to the metaphorical punch throughout the 200×85. Columbus’ expertise and inflexible self-discipline overwhelmed a workforce and a training workers that by no means got here near developing with an satisfactory response. It actually didn’t assist issues that Sergei Bobrovsky outdid Andrei Vasilevskiy.
In 2015, the Lighting misplaced the Cup finals, in 2016 misplaced the convention finals, in 2017 did not make the playoffs and in 2018 misplaced the convention finals by being shut out in Video games 6 and seven by Washington after taking a 3-2 sequence lead. Now this.

Even when BriseBois wished to, he couldn’t stand pat on this cap period. Brayden Level, perhaps a bit extra noticeable within the sequence than Steven Stamkos however perhaps not, goes to get an enormous elevate, both voluntarily on the workforce’s half earlier than July 1 or by a suggestion sheet that could be on the horizon. To be able to accommodate that improve, absolutely the GM will try to maneuver Miller’s $5.25 million-per obligation for the subsequent 4 seasons. Ryan Callahan will seemingly be a buyout.

Tampa Bay has been an excellent workforce for a reasonably important period of time. However they haven’t been fairly ok to fulfill the most important second. If administration desires to consider the membership’s failure is solely a results of arbitrariness or randomness of the playoffs, or — and I like this one — only a dangerous week on the improper time, then effectively, we’ll meet the Lightning right here similar time subsequent 12 months.

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