Loss Of Kucherov And A Stanley Cup Hangover Has The Lightning Off To A Slow Start

October 23, 2021

The Stanley Cup hangover is real. This is the Lightning’s situation in the second week of the season after a 4-1 home loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday Night. The loss of Nikita Kucherov is not helping either.

The Lightning is 2-2 on the season and looks out of sync offensively without Kucherov. His loss is magnified on the power play. There seems to be a lot of passing and moving of the puck, but not enough shots being taken.

The Lightning were 0/6 against the Panthers on the power play. The Lightning also pissed away 90 seconds of a five-on-three advantage as they seemed more interesting in passing the puck as no one seemed eager to shoot. This year there is no Yanni Gourde or Tyler Johnson to turn to this season to help fill the loss of Kucherov.

Stamkos acknowledged that the Loss of Kucherov won’t be easy, but he is confident that the Lightning will make the necessary adjustments.

It’s no secret we’re missing one of the best power play guys on the planet right now. We’ve got some things to work out. We’re not panicking over it. It’ll take some time to adjust. We did it last year, but we also had some time to prepare. Guys are going to get into some spots, and some guys will be moving around. We’ll work on that.

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville talked about the impact that Kucherov has, especially on the power play, “Their power play is outstanding. When ‘Kuch’ got into the playoffs against us, it was almost unstoppable.”

There are, however, other players in the locker room that are going to have to step up. With the new talent on the roster, it may take some time to get the chemistry and line combinations clicking.

Kucherov was put on the LTIR this week and will miss at least ten games. He could be out longer. Kucherov missed the entire 2020-21 season and came back to lead the NHL in scoring during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ondrej Palat will get the first opportunity to fill Kucherov’s skates on the power play. Palat filled in last season with Kucherov out for the season, and the Lightning power play clicked at a 22.9 percent rate, good for ninth in the league.

Kucherov missed all of the 2020-21 regular season recovering from hip surgery. He came back in time for the playoffs to lead the NHL in playoff scoring.

The good news is that the Lightning had a light schedule this week with only two games, allowing more practice time to get these line combinations together.

The Lightning also picked up Alex Barre-Boulet on waivers from Seattle. Barre-Boulez was lost on waivers to Seattle when the roster cuts were made. The Lightning was able to get him back this week via waivers. Barre-Boulet will add depth to the forward lines joining two rookies on the roster Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk.

It was expected this might be a slow start for the Stanley Cup Champions. In the last 14 months, they have played well over 100 games as they have won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

The Lightning players have not had the amount of downtime that some of the other teams have had, as the team spent most of the summer partying with the Cup.

The Lightning opponent tonight, the Colorado Avalanche, is also off to a disappointing start to the season.

The Avalanche, who many predicted would meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, is 1-3 on the season after a 4-1 loss to Florida on Thursday night.

The Avalanche lost Brandan Saad, Joonas Donski, and Ryan Graves and did nothing to replace them.

Defensemen Cale Makar is struggling on the blue starting the season minus nine.

Game time is 7 PM tonight at Amalie Arena.

The Lightning will play at Buffalo and Pittsburgh next week, before a Thursday night home game against Arizona.