Lightning at the midway point: What we know and what we still have to learn

TAMPA — The Lightning officially have passed the regular-season’s midway point, surviving their share of obstacles to put themselves second in the league standings with 59 points after Friday’s 5-1 loss at Anaheim.

“It’s been a grind to get here, but I like where we’re at,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You can’t ask for much more than what these guys have given us through (the first half of the season). We’ve still got a long way to go. … It’s been a weird year, but we’re getting through it.”

The half-season mark is as good a time as any to assess the team’s current state and what we might find out in coming weeks.

What we know

They can handle adversity

The Lightning are more than happy to have right wing Nikita Kucherov back in the lineup, but they also mostly handled business without him. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Lightning completed a playoff run without Steven Stamkos for all but one game in 2019-20; they lifted the Cup after not having Nikita Kucherov throughout the regular season in 2021. This season, they were without Kucherov for 32 games and Brayden Point for 14, plus they went through a three-week period in which nine players and three coaches went through COVID protocol.

They have proven that they can handle any road bump — even when they’re down to just four defensemen in a game — and come…

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Eduardo A. Encina

Eduardo A. Encina

Tampa Bay Times

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#TBLightning beat writer @TB_Times. Coverer of Bowls, Cups & Manias. Astronaut in training. Citizen/junior ranger. Still makes @ShannonEncina laugh.⚾️🏈🏀🏒🤼🏆