Lightning Second Half
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Pat Maroon (14) fends off Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph (73) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Philip G. Pavely)

Tampa Bay Lightning Off to a Rough Second Half

After sending two all-stars to Sunrise, Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning have not had the second-half start they wanted.

Frustrating February

Tampa Bay is just 5-3-3 in the month of February. It is by far the worst month of their season. Their 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins summarized their month of hockey.

In February, the Lightning are 3-2-3 against teams currently out of the playoffs but are 2-1 against current playoff teams.

In Sunday’s game against the Penguins, backup goalie Brian Elliot allowed six goals in just the second period. Despite taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, six unanswered goals created too deep of a hole to recover from, ending in a 7-3 loss, one of the worst losses of the season for Tampa.

Questionable New Acquisition

Just an hour after their Sunday defeat, the Lightning announced they made a trade.

Tampa traded 24-year-old Cal Foote and five future picks to the Nashville Predators in exchange for 25-year-old Tanner Jeannot. Foote, the Lightning’s first-round selection in 2017, had limited ice time as a defenseman.

After giving up seven goals on Sunday, the Lightning could use as much defensive depth as possible. Trading a young defender as well as a 2025 protected first-round pick is a debatable move in the eyes of some fans.

Following a 41-point season last year, Jeannot is not having the same success on offense this year. The forward has just had 14 points through 56 games. But Jeannot looks to add his physical style of play to Tampa’s third line and bring a new energy to his new team.

In terms of draft capital, Tampa has dealt all their picks in next year’s draft through the fifth round. This move sends a message to NHL fans, the Tampa Bay Lightning are all-in for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nikita – the Offensive Wizard

Nikita Kucherov has been one of the few bright spots this month for the Lightning. After a three-point performance in the two all-star games, Kucherov has been on an offensive tear. In the 11 games since the break, Kucherov has had 13 points. He’s also on a five-game point streak.

Kucherov is second in the league in assists and third in total points.  At this current pace, Kucherov is on track for a 118-point season. To put this into perspective, there have only been nine individuals that have had 110+ points in a season since 2010.

Against the Penguins, Kucherov notched his 700th point in his career. He is roughly 300 points behind his current teammate Steven Stamkos for the most points in Tampa Bay Lightning history.

Looking Ahead

The Lightning’s next game is Tuesday against the Florida Panthers. Tampa looks for revenge as the Panthers dismantled the Lightning 7-1 the last time the two teams met back on Feb. 6.

Tampa is currently third in the Atlantic Division and hold the last non-wildcard spot in the Atlantic. They are only five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place. Although neither team comes close to Boston who is 12 points ahead of the next closest team.

About Nick VanZandt

Nick VanZandt is a senior journalism student at the University of Florida and this is his third semester working for WRUF.

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