Lightning are Elite but are Coming up Short in Big Games

The Lightning’s shortcomings the past few seasons have been the consequence of not being able to win the game. They had been right there last season, but lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The year before that, they were ousted from the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Stanley Cup final. Despite not having the ability to close things out the past few seasons, they stay one of the elite in the NHL and should once more be in the mix come playoff time.
The silver lining to their run last year was that they won two playoff series and attracted the eventual Cup winners into the brink without Steven Stamkos. The Lightning captain played in just one playoff match, but he is back to full health and, at just 26 years old, there’s no reason to believe he can not return to the 90+ stage player he had been from 2009 to 2012.
Similar to the Penguins, Tampa returns all of its core players from last year. The roster is full of celebrities in their mid-20s, so that they might be getting better. Here’s a look at their futures chances for the upcoming season.
Stanley Cup +1000
An individual could assert that this group is trending in the wrong direction after losing in the Cup final two decades ago, then in the East final last season, but given the makeup of the roster, so it would be foolish to discount them. Also worth considering — of the 11 Stanley Cup champions since the lockout, five of them lost in a seminar final the year before, so don’t cross Tampa off the record of Cup contenders.
The Lightning are supporting only the Chicago Blackhawks (+750) on the Stanley Cup futures oddsboard and are connected with the Pens and Capitals.
Eastern Conference +550
Tampa paths both Pittsburgh (+400) and Washington (+500) in the Eastern Conference futures market as the Lightning try to return to their third straight conference closing. This franchise has won the conference twice in its history, however it’s well worth noting that no team has performed three straight Eastern Conference finals in a really long time. You truly have to return to when the conference was called the Prince of Wales Conference, when the New York Islanders made three straight appearances in the final from 1982 to 1984.
Atlantic Division +130
How odd is it to see both groups from Florida — the Lightning and Panthers (+400) — ahead of four Original Six teams around the Atlantic Division futures oddsboard? Odd or not, Tampa Bay is the biggest favorite in branch futures markets this year, but if they slide even a bit, that +400 value about the Panthers, last year’s division winner, is an excellent bargain.
Maybe another surprising oddity is that it has been over a decade since the Lightning won their division, when they moved back to back in 2003 and 2004.
OVER/UNDER Point Complete 105.5
The Lightning are next to only the Caps (106.5) in the point total market, but this number appears too large. They’d 97 points last season and surpassed the 105.5 point total mark just once in the last ten years. The Capitals were the only team in the East to transcend this number last year and with a few divisional competitions likely to see an uptick in production, the UNDER looks like a safe bet.

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