Monday, October 4, 2010

2010-11 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

2010-11 Prediction 7th Eastern Conference

Bold predictions that nobody will ever call you out on: one of the founding principles of the internet, and here at Shootin' the Puck we subscribe to this theory. With that being typed, I give you the 2010-11 Lightning. I believe this team will make the playoffs. No really. While it may be a bit of a stretch, I think all the right pieces are there and the off the ice stuff has taken a turn for the better. The ownership situation has settled. Former Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman helped assemble a triumphant Canadian Olympic squad and is now in charge of getting the roster in shape and hiring the coaching staff. Guy Boucher has been selected as Stevie Y's first coach. I won't pretend to know a lot about this guy, but I have faith in Yzerman's knowledge of what it takes to build and preserve a winner. On the ice, vets like RW Martin St. Louis, C Vincent Lecavalier, and newcomer LW Simon Gagne are all very capable of changing a game. I look for LW Ryan Malone's role to blossom with a new coaching staff and the occasional tip from Yzerman. D Victor Hedman had a decent first season and figures to get only better and is joined by Mattias Ohlund, and Pavel Kubina. G's Dan Ellis and Mike Smith are the definite question marks for this team, but with regular playing time either of these guys could catch lighnting in a bottle (pun intended).  It's entirely possible that the 'ning could fall short of the playoffs, but for my money if C Steven Stamkos continues to emerge into a world class talent that points goals on the board, this team will have a strong chance.

Player to Watch: C Steven Stamkos

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