-- For three years the Tampa Bay Lightning
languished outside the postseason picture and one, simple statistic was the biggest reason amongst many others for a franchise in turmoil -- goals against.
The Lightning finished in the bottom four of the NHL in goals against each year, yielding an average of 3.20 goals per game during the three-year span. How the franchise has risen from off-ice tumult to stability in such a short span has mirrored the on-ice ability to prevent goals, and in turn helped the Lightning move to within seven victories of claiming the Stanley Cup.
There are many reasons why goal prevention has become such a strength for the Lightning, and why the club has improved so dramatically -- not just from last season but from the start of this one as well.
"It is tough to compare the last couple of years to this year," Steven Stamkos
said. "We've had so many changes. We had brand new structure, brand new players, the coaching staff -- everything is different. It wouldn't be fair to compare that, but from Day One [of this season] to here, it is almost night and day. It is the same structure, but it is about us getting better at it each and every day."