Tampa Bay slide on the ice
Nashville Predators' Filip Forsberg (9) watches his goal go in past Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan McDonagh (27) during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

Lightning lose again as they Look to Cure Cup Hangover Against Penguins

Oct. 21, 2021.  That was the date of the Tampa Bay Lightning had their ring ceremony for their 2021 Stanley Cup victory.  They lost the game before, and both after.  While they stand at an unimpressive (2-3-1), their cross-state rival Florida Panthers are (6-0-0).

Although it is still early, the Lightning need to snap out of their Stanley Cup hangover before they fall too far behind in the Eastern Conference standings.  They will have a chance to get back on track tonight when they travel up the east coast to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tampa’s Struggles

Simply put, the Lightning are not the team they were the past two years.  Although they retained most of their top guys this offseason, they lost the majority of the players on their third and fourth lines.  As a result, their depth and overall team chemistry is simply not there at the moment.  They have also been battling injuries.

For the past four games, the Lightning have been without Nikita Kucherov.  During that time, they have only been able to muster six goals.  Prior to his absence, they had 13 in just two games.  Unfortunately for the Bolts, Kucherov will not be returning any time soon.

If the Lightning want to get back on track, they will have to figure out how to do it without their top guy.  That said, the Penguins will also be without many of their best players when the teams clash tonight.

Pittsburgh’s Successes

No Evgeni Malkin.  No Sidney Crosby.  No Kris Letang.  No problem.

Even without three of their top guys, the Penguins have surged to a great start this season.  Through five games, they have eight points and are yet to lose in regulation.  The biggest reason for their success, finding the back of the net.

To this point in the season, the Pittsburgh’s offense has been absolutely lethal.  In four of their five games so far, they have scored at least four goals.  Additionally, they are second in the NHL with a 56.95% expected goal percentage during 5-on-5 play.

The Lightning should be expected to come out fast tonight, and the Penguins will likely need to score to keep up.

What’s Next

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

About William Silverman

William Silverman is a junior at the University of Florida from Philadelphia who is interested in pursuing a career in business, communications and journalism.

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