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Tampa Bay Lightning Find Gold in Blake Coleman

Blake Coleman

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history on Monday night against the Dallas Stars. It was a long year for the Lightning after being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets the previous year in the playoffs. The Lightning learned that if they were going to win they needed to get tougher. If the Lightning were going to rely just on their skill, it was going to be a long road to the Stanley Cup. The pieces were in place for the Lightning, but they needed one or two more pieces to complete the puzzle. That’s where players like Pat Maroon, Barclay Goodrow, and Blake Coleman come into play. While all three played a vital role for the Lightning it was Coleman who cost the most but brought the biggest reward.

Blake Coleman Pays Dividends

Coming out of the NHL Trade Deadline, the Lightning were one of the big winners. Adding Goodrow and Coleman, the bottom six of their roster was complete. However, some were criticizing general manager Julien BriseBois for overspending on Goodrow and Coleman. Looking back on the trades, BriseBois would do it again. Not only did BriseBois give up a first-round pick for Goodrow to the San Jose Sharks but he sent a first-round pick (acquired from the Vancouver Canucks) and Nolan Foote to the New Jersey Devils for Coleman. It was a steep price, but BriseBois knew the Lightning were in win-now mode. And win they did… except not in June, but at the end of September.

As for Coleman, it took him some time to adjust to the Lightning’s style of play. In his first nine games as a member of the Lightning, he had one assist. There were high expectations as he had 31 points, 21 being goals with the Devils before being traded. But if there one was one guy that benefited from the COVID-19 pause it was Blake Coleman. Getting his mind right before the start of play in August was the best thing for him. It also gave him a few months to learn a system and get familiar with the players on the team. Plus he could understand what his role was going to be once the Stanley Cup Playoffs began.

The Lightning did not bring in Coleman just for his goal-scoring, that was part of the reason. A bigger reason was he was an elite penalty-killer, a physical presence, and added that grit that was lacking from the Lightning lineup. Coleman is one of those guys that works every night and is very tough to play against.

Stanley Cup Playoffs

However, it would be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs where Coleman shined the brightest. Playing alongside Goodrow and Yanni Gourde, that line at times was one of the best for the Lightning. The trio would often go up against the opposition’s top line. And with Coleman on the Lightning penalty kill, they ran at an 86.1 percent kill rate. During the six games against the Stars in the Stanley Cup Final, the Lightning penalty kill held the Stars to just one power-play goal in 19 chances.

Not to mention Coleman contributed offensively in the playoffs. During 25 games played Coleman recorded 13 points (five goals and eight assists). Coleman and his linemates came up with some big goals when the team needed them the most. In each round of the playoffs that line played a major role. And even though he only scored one goal in the Stanley Cup Final, Coleman’s Game 6 goal was the insurance marker the Lightning needed to win the Stanley Cup.

Going Forward

Every team wishes they could have a trade acquisition like Blake Coleman work out as he did. Coleman is one of those rare acquisitions that did. The best part about Coleman is that he is still under contract for another year at $1.8 million. That is very cheap for a player of Coleman’s calibre. With the Lightning under a salary cap crunch coming into next season, having a guy like Coleman under contract is huge especially at the rate he is at. There is no doubt Coleman can duplicate his production for the Lightning having a full regular season. But the fact of the matter remains nobody knows what this Lightning team will look like. The one thing is for sure is that Lightning found gold in the acquisition of Blake Coleman.

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