Lightning Struggling to Find Consistency This Season

Photo Credit: Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coming off a disappointing first-round exit after three straight deep playoff runs, the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to be ready to go from the start of training camp.

Once the regular season got underway, though, this team hasn’t been able to keep momentum from game to game, let alone period to period.

After a nationally televised season opener that started the 2023-24’ campaign in style, the Lightning went on the road and were unable to keep the opponent from pulling away in the third period to begin the trip.

Upon returning home, Nikita Kucherov got going and willed the Bolts to a much-needed victory. Two nights later, the team blew a multi goal lead in the third period to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In overtime, John Tavares put the final nail in Tampa Bay’s coffin.

With the Atlantic Division tight, the Lightning needed to get points to keep pace. Jonas Johansson made sure that happened with two consecutive shutouts. Unfortunately, the team allowed three first-period goals before battling back for one point in an overtime loss.

Considering the Lightning’s woes in extra time this season, it would be in their best interest to not end up there. Yes, teams get one point for going past regulation, but when they struggle to win in overtime, that’s one less point in the bank. Come playoff time that could be costly.

November continued the Bolts Jekyll and Hyde season. They started things off by blowing another third period lead in a regulation loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their first road win followed, led by Brayden Point and Kucherov.

The momentum from that didn’t carry over, though, as the Lightning blew yet another multi-goal lead to the Maple Leafs and fell in overtime. Matt Tompkins then got his first NHL win in years, as the offense came alive early before a late push by the Montreal Canadiens made things interesting.

Rookie sensation Connor Bedard broke out with a four-point game at Amalie Arena, a place the Lightning doesn’t often lose in. Keeping that in mind, it was very surprising to see this team lose both games in a brief homestand.

Back on the road for two in mid-November, the Lightning got shutout by Jordan Binnington and the St. Louis Blues before getting a measure of revenge by beating the Bedard-led Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

The week of Thanksgiving saw the Bolts show a bit of consistency for the first time all season, as they got five of a possible six points. That included a last-second comeback and their first overtime win in nearly a year over the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins.

Andrei Vasilevskiy returned from offseason back surgery on Black Friday in Carolina. The team welcomed him back by scoring a season-high eight goals in an 8-2 rout of the Hurricanes.

Unfortunately, that consistency was short-lived. A bad start and power outage offensively doomed the team in road losses to both the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes. Back home to end November, a two-goal lead after one period was completely erased in a 4-2 setback to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

December began with a home and home with the Dallas Stars. The Lightning got steamrolled, with Vasilevskiy pulled after 40 minutes in an 8-1 loss at American Airlines Center. Things went differently in Tampa, as Vasilevskiy got a measure of redemption in a 4-0 shutout on the night Victor Hedman celebrated his 1,000th career game. A rematch with the Penguins then went Tampa Bay’s way, with Vasilevskiy shutting out a high-powered team until the final minute.

The Lightning then set out on their longest road trip of the season. A power outage against the Nashville Predators did the team in, as they lost 5-1. Two nights later, the team blew an early lead but managed to collect their second overtime win. An early lead then didn’t hold up in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Finally, captain Steven Stamkos had three goals in the final frame for his first career four-goal game in the Bolts 7-4 comeback win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Can you see a trend?

There’s no beating around the bush. The 2023-24’ Lightning are more inconsistent than Florida weather in the winter. Don’t believe me? The Bolts left home 11 days ago when highs were still in the mid 70s to near 80 degrees. They’ll arrive home to highs in the low 60s.

It’s gotten so bad that fans and maybe even the team themselves have to be asking Santa for more consistency from game to game and period to period. If they can play at a high level consistently, the wins should follow. From there, the Bolts should start moving up the standings and back into a playoff spot.

Will the Lightning start playing with more consistency? While unknown, their playoff hopes ride on finding a way to win enough games for a postseason berth.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Lauren Burg

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer for “Inside the Rink.” A lifelong Tampa Bay Area resident, she graduated from the University of South Florida’s world-renowned journalism program in December 2009. While in college, she discovered hockey and the Tampa Bay Lightning. She quickly became a passionate fan, attending many games over the years. She also experienced an All-Star game in 2018, numerous road games, and, most recently, the Bolts back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Since graduating college, she’s been working hard to combine her two loves, writing and hockey, hoping to one day make that her full-time career. In her free time, she enjoys attending sporting events (both home & road when possible), taking photos, and traveling.

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