I've got to tell you, this mandatory bye week has made things quite dull for someone who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning, such as myself. No games, practice, out-of-nowhere firings, or franchise-altering trades made by the Bolts makes finding something to write about quite difficult.
Although I'd rather not have the bye week for my own personal reasons, is it beneficial for the Lightning?
From a physical standpoint, of course, it is. Anytime you can get a string of days off for some rest in the middle of a grueling 82 game hockey season, it can only be seen as beneficial.
I would argue that the time off helps out the skaters, referring to forwards and defensemen, more than it does goalies. Both Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy have finally begun to look like the netminders we expected them to be this season. A week off with no shots being taken in their direction can make it difficult to get back into the form they were in before the break.
Mentally, I think the bye week has both advantages and disadvantages. In theory, it's great to give the cranium a little vacation from the stresses of playing hockey in the NHL. In reality, the idea that players are not thinking about what needs to be done when they get back to playing is completely ludicrous.
For the Lightning specifically, the bye week could not have come at a worse possible time. Tampa was playing their best hockey in a very long time, winning three of their last four games. One can always have hope but the fact is that the Bolts have simply lost any momentum they were able to gain before the break.
The team still sits close to the bottom of the Eastern Conference six points behind the closest playoff spot with only 26 games to play. Tampa pretty much cannot afford to lose two games in a row the rest of the season. That's a whole lot to think about while you're supposed to be on a vacation.
So, for me, the bye week does a little more bad than good for the Lightning at this point in the 2016-17 season. We will just have to wait and see what kind of team takes the ice when the Bolts take on the Stars on Saturday.