What to Expect From Tampa Bay in 2011-12

As the 2011-12 NHL season prepares to get started with training camps and preseason training, what will the Lightning look like? Will the Lightning build off last year and continue to improve on their postseason success? I think they will because of three reasons.

[caption id="attachment_28" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Photo by Chris O'Meara / AP"][/caption]

First, the 2011-12 Tampa Bay Lightning still have a lot of their top guns from last year. The veteran core of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier is still intact. St. Louis found great chemistry with linemate Steven Stamkos and has shown no signs of fading as he goes deeper into his career. Vincent Lecavalier on the other hand hasn’t been able to regain his 2004 dominance. He had a decently good year last year measured by his performance over the past year, collecting 54 points and 25 goals in 65 games, but in terms of Lecavalier standards, he had a down year. He needs to somehow regain his confidence, which is much easier said than done.

The second reason Tampa will fare well in the upcoming season is because of coaching / management. Despite entering only his second year as Head Coach of the Lightning, Guy Boucher has already established a winning culture. Also entering his second year, General Manager Steve Yzerman clearly knows his hockey, making key moves that greatly help the Lightning last year.

The third reason Tampa is going to contend next year is Steven Stamkos. The kid can play. Game-breaking speed, laser shot, and only 21 years old? The scary thing about Stamkos is that he’s getting better. With Crosby out indefinitely, look for Stammer to establish himself as the best player in the game.

The good news is we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out.

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