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Stuck in Inconcsistancy? Written by Laci Bloomers - January 8th, 2009

The Tampa Bay Lightning could win and award this season, if one was given for inconsistancy.  Heading into tomorrow game against the San Jose Sharks, the team is still trying to find their mojo 35 games into the season.


How bad has it been?

In the past 13 games, the Lightning have neither won nor lost back-to-back games.  That is over a third of the season without back to back wins.  Not that they can do that sgainst the Sharks, because they lost to Chicago 4-1 after beating San Jose 6-3 the game before that.

And that is the way it has been.

Not the that Bolts are the only team in that type of a funk.  While Tampa Bay has only 11 wins, they sit just a small win streak from jumping that fence for 8th spot.  However, only 2 teams have won fewer games this season.  The Los Angeles Kings have 10 wins.  Seems like the Summer Invitational Classic might have been a curse for these two clubs.

Other teams have their GMs shaking their heads as well.  In Buffalo, the Sabres management can not get their talent -laden roster over the hump, and the Sabres have a losing record and sit outside a playoff spot, 4 points up on Tampa Bay.

Dallas, Phoenix and Toronto  have all been inconsistent this season, and all sit outside a playoff spot they should be challenging for.

Some might say the parity in the league is the reason.  Sound nice, but Ottawa has a 10 point bulge atop the Eastern Conference, while the 30th overall Colorado Avalanche with 24 points sits 32 back of the 1st overall Blue Jackets.

Tough to say, but in Tampa one thing is obvious.  While the Lightning hang around the CMHL's Top 10 in goals against, only one team in a playoff spot at the moment has scored less often.  Their very own Division rivals from Washington have scored 92 goals this season, one less than the Bolts.  The club is hoping the addition of Bobby Holik will help, and they may see a fired-up Alex Radulov against San Jose, as Radulov was a healthy scratch for 3 games while rookie David Moss got a taste of what will be in store for him next season.  Radulov has managed only 4 goals in 28 games this season, and has been very quiet since Mike Modano was traded.  The club is hoping this stint as a spectator will wake up the scoring machine, who is coming off back-to-back 30 goal seasons.

Look for Radulov to play with Holik and Jere Lehtinen, who has also cooled on the scoresheet of late.  The club likes the looks for Rod Brind A'mour centering Ray Whitney and Scott Walker, while Rob Neidermayer will likely play with Fernando Pisani and Mike Knuble.  Andy Hilbert, Jay Pandolfo and Boyd Gordon have formed a strong checking line, although they too should be contibuting more often, with 6 goals and 9 assists between them.

The current blueline has 21 goals this season combined, and Roman Hamrlik only has a pair of games in a Tampa uniform, so a couple more could make a difference on the back end as well.

Let's hope it starts tomorrow, as the club then plays rival Atlanta and Carolina between a home game versus the Bruins.

- Laci Bloomers reporting -


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