TAMPA — Despite having made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been a wildly inconsistent team at home during these playoffs.
Of the Lightning’s five home losses (against five home victories), four have been by four goals. In the first round, there was a 4-0 defeat to Detroit; in the second, they lost 6-2 to Montreal; and in the Eastern Conference Final, they lost 5-1 and 7-3 to the Rangers.
So, with home-ice advantage over the Blackhawks, captain Steven Stamkos wants the Lightning to have the same “mentality” at Amalie Arena that they’ve had on the road, where they’ve gone an impressive 7-3 in the postseason.
“It’s being okay with a tight game early on, not feeling the pressure of playing at home or feeling the need to put on a show for your fans or for your family and friends in the stands,” said Stamkos. “We’ve been fine with tight games on the road because we know we’ll find a way in the end. We’ve shown that we can do that. We have to find a way to have that same mentality at home.”
Coach Jon Cooper didn’t disagree with his captain’s take.
“I think sometimes at home, especially against the Rangers, we fell behind early (and) we just tried to chase the game,” he said. “Do we get caught up in our atmosphere, the crowd, everything that’s going on? We might.”
That said, Cooper noted that the Lightning went 32-8-1 at home during the regular season, and it was their 18-16-7 road record for which they “got a little bit maligned.”
“As it turns out, if it wasn’t for our road play, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” he said.
Whether at home or away, one thing the Lightning could really use is more scoring from forwards not named Stamkos, Alex Killorn, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, or Ondrej Palat.
Those six comprise Tampa Bay’s top two lines. Combined, they’ve scored 45 goals.
The rest of the forwards have combined for just four goals.
“I think we feel real fortunate to be where we are with laying it on the shoulders of six guys basically,” said veteran winger Brenden Morrow, who has no points in 18 playoff games. “We need to find somebody else. We need scoring contributions from a lot of other people now.”
The obvious candidate is Ryan Callahan, the $34.8 million winger who has just one goal on 39 shots in the playoffs. Brian Boyle, with just one goal on 31 shots, is another veteran who’s had trouble putting the puck in the net.