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Lightning moves into Tampa Bay Bucs’ neighborhood

in Sports/Top Headlines by

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.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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