Tampa Bay’s sputtering offenses usually haven’t delivered

in Sports/Top Headlines by


We have plenty of it.

No goals. No touchdowns. Not many hits. We are a wasteland. We are the desert. We have end zones that have never been trod upon.

Take Tuesday, for instance. In its biggest game of the year, in a game to try to keep a pulse in the NHL wild card race, the Lightning was shut out. It was 4-0, and really, it wasn’t close. Meanwhile, back in Tampa Bay, the Rays were playing their second game of the year after an impressive opener. They were beaten 5-0.

Think about it. The Bucs scored as many as anyone, and they are in the middle of their off-season. As the old line goes, Tampa Bay scored as many times as a dead man.

Hasn’t it always been that way?

In the very first NFL season by the Bucs, it was the third game before Tampa Bay even scored. The fourth game before it scored a touchdown. The Bucs’ history is littered with Josh Freeman and Trent Dilfer and Vinny Testaverde. It drafted Bo Jackson, who wouldn’t even come. It spent a second round draft pick on wide receiver Dexter Jackson, who never caught a pass.

The Lightning has had some great scorers. Steven Stamkos scored 60 in one year, and Marty St. Louis won the Hart as the league MVP. But the Bolts, too, have had their gaps. They had Petr Klima and Gerard Gallant. There have been too many nights when the ice seemed uphill. From the first season, when the Lightning scored the fewest goals in the league, the power play has been powerless.

This team was supposed to change all of that with Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin and Alex Killorn. Still, there were too many nights when the chemistry felt wrong. The Lightning started wrong but finished strong. It wasn’t enough.

Then there are the Rays, who have always struggled to circle the bases. This was the home of the Hit Show (which didn’t) and Pat Burrell and Vinny Castilla and B.J. Upton. It figures. The most expensive item in the free agent market is a great hitter, and darned if the Rays have been able to develop their own. Last year, the Rays had the second-lowest batting average of their history (2012 was worse).

To tell you the truth, it gets lonely sometimes being a Tampa Bay sports fan.

Is there hope? Sure. Next season, the Bolts should have Stamkos and Kucherov to lead the way. The Rays seem to have some pop. And the Bucs have quarterback Jameis Winston and a nice receiving corps.

Always, there is hope.

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.