TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online.
Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

5 key questions facing the Tampa Bay Lightning

BRANDON - Five questions facing the Lightning that will need to be answered in less than a week during an abbreviated six-day training camp: Who plays in goal? Anders Lindback was acquired from Nashville in the hopes to solve the Lightning's woeful play in goal since the last lockout end. But will that be this season? Lindback remains an unknown commodity with less than 40 games of NHL experience under his belt in two seasons with the Predators. Veteran Mathieu Garon helped carry the team down the stretch and it wouldn't be a stretch if he played more games. Who wins the open spot on the second line?
J.T. Brown was likely penciled in to this spot until he suffered a broken collar bone playing in the American Hockey League that will likely keep him out of action until April. That leaves summer acquisition Benoit Pouliot – the former No. 4 overall pick in 2005 – vying for that spot along with Brett Connolly and perhaps reigning AHL MVP Cory Conacher. Who shows up out of shape? The coaching staff hopes the answer to this is nobody, but many of the players in camp have not played an NHL game since April and with the league in lockout mode since September there must have been a great temptation to put in half the effort while waiting to see how the lockout unfolded. So if somebody didn't put in the work it will show and there will not be enough time to get in shape. How quickly can the team come together? There were some big summer pickups – Matt Carle, Sami Salo, Pouliot and Lindback – along with B.J. Crombeen that will need to be integrated into the locker room and learn a new system. With only six days on the ice with the coaching staff before the season starts, it's going to be a crash course on both fronts and if not figured out quickly it could derail the season in a hurray. Can the power play be this poor again? Once a weapon, the Lightning power play was a hindrance at points last season to the point where many were calling for Tampa Bay to decline the man advantage. Overall the Lightning ended the season ranked tied for 25th overall with a success rate of 15.2 percent. With the offensive talent on this team, the deficient power play has to be much better.

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835 Twitter: erlendssonTBO