Tampa Bay Lightning

Grading the Lightning special teams

Wednesday, 06.04.2014 / 9:18 AM / News
By Missy Zielinski  - Lightning Beat Reporter
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Grading the Lightning special teams
Bolts beat reporter Missy Zielinski hands out her grades to the Lightning special teams unit in this edition of grading the Lightning

Each week Bolts beat reporter Missy Zielinski is grading the Tampa Bay Lightning in the categories of offense, defense, goaltending, special teams and rookies based on their performance during the 2013-14 season. For Week 4 she is handing Lightning special teams their report card:

BOLTS POWER PLAY – B

2013-14 power play: 18.5% success rate (13th overall)

Home – 19.3% success rate (10th overall)

Road – 17.7% success rate (14th overall)

Total power-play goals scored – 50 (T-7th overall)

2012-13 power play: 19.0% success rate (13th overall)* [48 games played]

Home – 24.2% success rate (5th overall)

Road – 12.5% success rate (T-23rd overall)

Total power-play goals scored – 31 (T-9th overall)

The Lightning’s power play struggled early on during the regular season, especially with Steven Stamkos absent from the lineup, but saw a resurgence by the end of the year. Head coach Jon Cooper deemed a successful power play as one that could score at least one power-play goal per game. During the last home stretch of the season, the Lightning did just that, scoring 16 power-play goals in its last 17 contests. The return of Stamkos, and addition of Ryan Callahan, made the first power-play unit much more dynamic, with each player providing something unique to the unit. It was most noticeable in front of the net, whereas before the roster changes, they played a perimeter style on the man advantage by keeping the puck around the outside of the offensive zone.

However, Tampa Bay’s power play ranked 13th overall in the NHL not only by the end of the 2013-14 season, but after 2012-13 too, meaning they failed to improve as a whole, despite seeing many changes to its personnel between years. Because injuries to Stamkos, Filppula and others on the team had a lot to do with this, expectations for next year should be high as long as the Bolts can either retain Callahan or have a player with a similar style parked in front of the opposition’s net.

BOLTS PENALTY KILL – C

2013-14 penalty kill: 80.7% success rate (23rd overall)

Home – 82.1% success rate (17th overall)

Road – 79.4% success rate (24th overall)

Power-play goals allowed – 52 (24th overall)

2012-13 penalty kill: 80.6% success rate (19th overall)* [48 games played

Home – 81.8% success rate (19th overall)

Road – 79.5% success rate (16th overall)

Power-play goals allowed – 30 (T-17th overall)

Unlike the power play, the Lightning’s penalty kill began the season in the Top 10 in the NHL, but midway through the season it saw a big drop in success, including allowing 22 goals with a man down in a span of 22 games.

When the penalty kill was clicking, it was also finding success offensively. After recording just two shorthanded goals combined in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, which ranked 29th and 30th in the league, respectively, the Lightning’s 10 shorthanded goals ranked tied for third in the NHL in 2013-14. Center Tyler Johnson accounted for five of those goals, which tied for first (Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins) in the NHL.

As with the power play, the coaching staff should expect much improvement on the penalty kill come next season. For this to happen, the Bolts must attempt to stay healthy and within their defensive-minded structure. It will also be interesting to see if Tampa Bay’s speed will again play a factor in helping them snag shorthanded goals.

For last week’s grade given to Bolts defensemen, click here.