So this is how the other half lives?
The move to a new neighborhood has been swift for Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper. From extraordinary to ordinary. From magnificent to mediocre.
Why, these days, Cooper might as well be Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith.
Like Smith, Cooper’s team is one game under .500.
Like Smith, Cooper’s team is beaten up. On the Lightning’s injured list: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin. On the Bucs’ injured list: Vincent Jackson, Ali Marpet, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and George Johnson.
Like Smith, Cooper’s team has trouble finishing its scoring opportunities.
It has happened so quickly for the Lightning, this transformation to the last-place team in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division after 20 games. Is it a collection of slow starts? Is it an adjustment to how other teams are playing the Lightning?
The Lightning play the New York Rangers, who are riding a nine-game winning streak. Four of the team’s top six forwards may miss the game.