The Lightning’s shortcomings the past few seasons have been the consequence of not having the ability to win the big game. They had been right there last year, but lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The year before that, they were ousted from the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Stanley Cup final. Despite not being able to close things from the previous few seasons, they remain among the elite in the NHL and should once again be in the mix come playoff time.
The silver lining to their run last season was that they won two playoff series and also attracted the eventual Cup winners into the verge without Steven Stamkos. The Lightning captain played just 1 playoff match, but he is back to full health and, in only 26 years old, there’s no reason to believe he can’t return to the 90+ stage player he had been from 2009 to 2012.
Much like the Penguins, Tampa yields all of its core players from last season. The roster is full of celebrities in their mid-20s, so that they might be getting better. Following is a look at their futures odds for the season.
Stanley Cup +1000
An individual could argue that this group is trending in the wrong direction after dropping in the Cup final two years back, in the East last last season, but given the makeup of the roster, it would be foolish to dismiss them. Also worth considering — of the 11 Stanley Cup winners because the lockout, five of them dropped in a seminar final the year before, so don’t cross Tampa off your list of Cup contenders.
The Lightning are behind just the Chicago Blackhawks (+750) on the Stanley Cup futures oddsboard and are connected together with the Pens and Capitals.
Eastern Conference +550
Tampa paths both Pittsburgh (+400) and Washington (+500) in the Eastern Conference futures marketplace as the Lightning try to return to their third straight conference closing. This franchise has won the summit twice in its history, however it is worth noting that no team has played three straight Eastern Conference finals in a very long time. You truly have to go way back to when the conference was called the Prince of Wales Conference, if the New York Islanders made three straight appearances in the closing from 1982 to 1984.
Atlantic Division +130
How strange is it to see both teams from Florida — both the Lightning and Panthers (+400) — ahead of four First Six teams around the Atlantic Division futures oddsboard? Odd or not, Tampa Bay is your biggest favorite in branch futures markets this season, but should they slide even a bit, that +400 value about the Panthers, last season’s division winner, is an excellent bargain.
Maybe another unexpected oddity is that it has been over a decade since the Lightning won their division, when they went back to back in 2003 and 2004.
OVER/UNDER Point Complete 105.5
The Lightning are next to only the Caps (106.5) in the point total market, but this number appears too high. They had 97 points last season and surpassed that the 105.5 point total mark only once in the past ten years. The Capitals were the only team from the East to surpass this number last year and with a couple divisional competitions planning to see an uptick in production, the UNDER looks like a safe bet.