The Tampa Bay Lightning put forward one of the greatest regular season performances in recent memory. The club steamrolled its competition, finishing 21 points ahead of the next closest team in the NHL. By this point, we already know that what followed in the post-season was anything but impressive.
The Bolts were swept away in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets, hardly resembling anything of a powerhouse. As standout goaltender and 2018-19 Vezina Trophy recipient Andrei Vasilevskiy notes, the club was too complacent prior to the playoffs.
“I think at some point, we got too comfortable,” the netminder said, according to NHL.com. “When everything is right, everything is comfortable, it's easy to play. I think that when we won the Presidents' Trophy, there were about 10 games left. I think we thought, 'Oh, we were good in the regular season, we'll be alright in the playoffs.'
“But it's a different game in the playoffs. I think we got comfortable and we just weren't ready in the playoffs.”
After jumping ahead of the Blue Jackets 3-0 in the first game of the series, it seemed like the Lightning were poised to continue their dominance. Surprisingly, that would be the only time all post-season Tampa Bay seemed to be in control.
With minimal changes to the roster occurring over the off-season, there is ample pressure on most in the team’s locker room to live up to expectations. And while individual recognition is nice, Vasilevskiy notes that the real goal is being the last team standing.
“Lots of guys were good, but yeah, the playoffs wasn't great and I got those personal trophies,” he said. “I mean, it's good, it's great, right? Personal trophy and stuff, but nothing compares to the one big goal.”
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