The target on the back of the Tampa Bay Lightning grew larger once they evolved from a team projected to rebuild to one expected to contend.
And not just for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs either. The Lightning are a chic pick to go deep in the postseason; The Hockey News has them pegged for the Stanley Cup Final. Expectations are heightened in Tampa Bay and that's fine with coach Jon Cooper, a finalist last season for the Jack Adams Award and NHL.com's favorite to win it in 2014-15.
"The first year that I've been a part of a team has always been a big transition year, and last year was no different," Cooper said on the Lightning's Power Play Podcast. "But I'm really excited about this year because there's less unknowns out there. We know each other, we know what our expectations are, we know what our standards are and we know what we can do. I think last year was a little bit of a coming out party for us. Now we have a little bit more of a bull's-eye on our back. Let's accept that challenge. I'm really, really excited for that."