One hundred and ten. That’s how many days it’s been since the first game of the season. When Tampa Bay was considered a powerhouse and all but a lock for yet another playoff berth with a deep run to a potential Cup. The biggest questions were who Steve Yzerman was going to target to bolster the roster for the playoffs and was it worth losing Bishop for nothing if it meant a Stanley Cup win.
One hundred and four. That’s how many days it’s been since the Lightning started as expected. A perfect 3-0 record. Issues seen during these games seemed irrelevant. Anomalies that this stacked Tampa Bay team was able to overcome. Maybe it was just rust from the players who hadn’t played since the prior season. Maybe it was just a little weariness from the players who had played in the World Championships. No matter, they were winning.
Seventy three. That’s how many days it’s been since Tampa Bay started 4-0 on a five game road trip. The surprising mediocre first month of the season was just an outlier. The team had turned it around and was again playing the hockey that made them so great. All was becoming right in the world and Tampa Bay would again be at the top of standings in short order.
Forty. That’s how many days it’s been since the Bolts have won back to back games. What was thought to be a mediocre start to the season had since turned ugly. Injuries were piling up. Questions about the futures of many players and organizational figureheads abound. Wins were being book-ended by multiple losses more often than not. Everything seemed in disarray.
Five. That’s how many days it’s been since Tampa Bay finished a six game road trip that was crucial to their season. A trip that started out promising with a hard fought win quickly became abysmal with losses in four of the final five games. A trip that many felt held the key to Tampa Bay snatching their season from the jaws of failure, succumbed to the pressure. Many felt it was time to pull the plug on Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes.
Sixty eight. That’s how many days are left in the Lightning’s regular season. Throughout the horrendous first half plus, Tampa Bay is still somehow within striking distance of a playoff spot. They have dug an enormous hole for them to climb out of, but it’s possible. Multiple teams will need to be climbed over to do so; requiring many more wins than losses moving forward.
One hundred and ten, one hundred and four, seventy three, forty, five. None of those numbers matter at this point. Thirty two and six. These are the only two numbers that matter now. Thirty two games remaining and six points out of a playoff spot. There are a lot of different questions surrounding this team now as compared to the beginning of the season. Only one really matters though: Can Tampa Bay be the team everyone thought they were and make a run to the playoffs?
Sixty eight. That’s how many days we have left to find out the answer.