If you told all the blue hairs that the Tampa Bay Lightning wouldn't be in the playoffs after an amazing Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Bruins, you'd have to do it before 4pm so they could hear you while you're awake. I mean, they would've called you crazy. They would come back at you with names like Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier and Victor Hedman. Then they would say 'Well,our division isn't very good, I mean, we have Florida and Winnipeg and they suck.' as they watched their stories on Channel 4, 5 or 7 and had their grandson adjust the rabbit ears on the TV encased in a wooden box.
Then you take a look at the standings and you realize that Tampa Bay is terrible. It's shocking, actually, to see that they're at the bottom of the Southeast Division and tied for last in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islanders. How does this happen? A 17-23-4 record? 6-16-3 on the road? 3-6-1 in their last 10 games? Who is this team? It's like Florida and Tampa Bay was hooked up to a machine and they trade bodies. I guess if you want to look at just one stat that tells the story, take a look at goal differential. The Lightning are a -35. Lets compare that to the other teams around the league:
I took 3 bottom feeders from both conferences and looked at their goal differential. For those who don't know what goal differential is, it is the number of goals scored subtracted from the number of goals allowed.
Tampa Bay: -35
New York Islanders: -31
Carolina Hurricanes -30
Columbus Blue Jackets: -41
Anaheim Ducks: -25
Edmonton Oilers -13
Tampa has the second to worst goal differential in the NHL. The only one worse than them is Columbus, who is having a miserable season.
The funny thing is that their offense isn't that bad. They're 13th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.70. Tampa's issue lie completely on the defensive end of the ice. They're currently last in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 3.48. It seems age has finally caught up with Dwayne Roloson, who was traded to Tampa last season and played magnificently. Roloson has played in 23 games this season but has only started 18.That means Matheiu Garon (can we talk about how awful it is to spell Matthew like Matheiu? Fucking Christ) has been pulled (or was injured) in 5 games this season. That's. Not. Good.
When Roloson was traded to Tampa he started in 34 games. His record was 1812-4 with 4 shutouts, posted a GAA of 2.56 and a SV% of .912. He has only started in 18 so far this season and is 6-10-2 with a 3.68GAA and a SV% .880. In fact, neither Tampa goalie sport a save percentage over .900. Garon is .899 and Roloson is .880. That's bad. To further this point, I went through NHL.com's stat page and there isn't another team in the NHL who's goalie duo sports a collective sub .900 save percentage. Not the Islanders, not the Blue Jackets, no one.
On the other hand, the Bruins are still winning hockey games and the Tim Thomas/Tuuka Rask breakfast combo is still the best in the NHL. Tuukka Rask leads the NHL in both save percentage (.946) and GAA(1.61). Tim Thomas is second in the NHL in SV% (9.37) and 6th in the NHL in GAA (1.99). They're the NHL's version of Batman and Robin. It seems that Rask may pull a Dick Grayson and become Batman in the near future.
Either way you look at it, Boston has a fantastic problem that most NHL clubs would love to have. They have two All-Star caliber goalies who could should contend for a Vezina Trophy if they're able to keep this up at the end of the season.
After the jump, the rest...
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Beniot Pouliot - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Zach Hamill - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron
Danny Paille - Greg Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid
Do You Know Your Enemy?
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