Tampa Bay Lightning
Five who must thrive for Tampa Bay Lightning
A lot of factors go into whether a team enjoys success or is stuck in the cellar during a season. For Tampa Bay to be back in the playoff picture this season, these five players must be big contributors. Anders Lindback While Tampa Bay acquired the 6-foot-6 netminder from Nashville to help solve the team's long-term issues in goal, he has to at least be part of the solution this year despite only 38 games of NHL experience to his resume. Had last season's goaltending been average instead of sub-par, the Lightning would have been a playoff team last year. If Lindback can help provide that this year a return trip to the postseason might be in the cards. Matt CarleConsidered the second best available defenseman in the free agent market, Carle signed a six-year deal to come to Tampa Bay. Now he will be counted on to log big minutes, provide strong play at both ends of the ice and be a contributor on the power play. The 28-year-old might be coming into the prime of his career and the Lightning need him to be a big part of an overhauled defensive corps. Vinny Lecavalier No matter the situation or the season, Lecavalier is always going to be counted on to be a big part of what the Lightning do, and this season is no exception. While he may never return to the 40-plus goal scorer he was five years ago, he needs to be a 25-goal, 75-point producer – prorated to 48 games, that comes to 15 goals, 44 points this season – to be a second offensive threat at the center position behind Steven Stamkos. Lecavalier's defensive game has improved to the point he is a solid two-way center, but he will always be counted on to produce offense. Steven Stamkos What else does the soon to be 23-year-old need to prove? He's coming off a 60-goal season, already has two Rocket Richard trophies to his credit and is one of the top goal scorers to come along in some time. But he will always be counted on to score goals, something he has excelled at in his four seasons in the league. He will tell you he needs to be better defensively and in the faceoff circle. If he finds ways to improve those areas while not taking away from what he's paid to do, the team will benefit greatly. Teddy Purcell The 26-year-old set career highs with 24 goals and 65 points while seemingly finding the elusive consistency to his game his coaches always wanted to see. In the second half of last season Purcell was excellent and he has found a nice chemistry with Lecavalier. But this year he can't afford to take a step back, he has to continue trending upward and maintain his battle levels while being a productive goal and point producer.