For a supposed "up-and-coming" team in the last few years, they went from a legitimately excellent 108 point season in 2014-'15, down to 97 points last year (in a bad division in a weaker conference) and they look even worse this year than last year. They underachieved (or so we thought ) last season, and spent an awfully long time outside the playoff bubble, but, well, it happens once, that can be random. Concerning but nothing alarming. That the Lightning made a deep playoff run, aided by being a #6 seed that got to face a de facto #8 seed and then #5 seed in the first two rounds no doubt helping that, probably helped calm those worries down. I would also argue that Blashill and Capuano represent a very short list of NHL head coaches who I would rate lower than Cooper, and the jury's still out on Blashill (he's got a bad hockey team over there).
Except here we are, with the Lightning yet again in the running for biggest underachiever in the league. When that happens multiple times over, it's time to start looking at the coaching staff and asking some questions as to why that might be.
Another area of concern in previous years? The brutal power play the Lightning had run despite the talent level of their forwards. Cooper finally gave up PP duties in the off-season. Todd Richards (speaking of Columbus) was appointed to that role. The Lightning's power play this season? Unquestionably one of the league's best. Cooper actually gets credit for that, because head coaches get credit for the accomplishments of their assistants, but that it took three full seasons for that to finally happen was pretty damn irritating.
I dunno man, there are other perennial playoff teams in the NHL that have no trouble getting up enough for the regular season that being in the playoff picture isn't any kind of problem for them, at all (the Chicago's, Washington's, Pittsburgh's, etc. of the world), and then there's the Lightning, who haven't actually won anything of importance, in the last couple seasons, and managing to actually be bothered to play regular season hockey is a huge problem. And you know what? It's possible my irritation is misplaced. Maybe it's a personnel issue rather than a coaching issue. I fully disagree, but I'm often wrong. In that case, it doesn't change the fact that there's some serious problems that need to be addressed, and addressed rapidly, because there is nothing worse than watching an underachieving hockey team, and having done so for about 1 1/2 seasons now. I can tolerate bad Lightning hockey teams - heaven knows I've seen many of them - but underachieving teams is a totally different story. Those wear my ass the hell out.