NHL players no longer excited by trips to play California teams

Last Saturday, the Lightning suffered their first loss to a Western Conference opponent when they were rocked 6-3 by the Phoenix Coyotes. Starting tonight in Los Angeles, the Lightning begin a stretch of three games in four days through California that will see them conclude the trip with back to back games in San Jose and Anaheim. Tampa already owns victories at home against the Kings and Ducks but recent history tells us that earning those points out west are a lot tougher.

For most, a trip taking you through California and Phoenix would sound like a great idea…..except if you are an NHL team. Five NHL teams have completed the western swing this season, each able to only muster a single victory. The five teams, the Rangers, Canucks, Senators, Flames and Sabres are a combined 5-11-2 (.333 winning percentage) versus the California teams and the Phoenix Coyotes, having been outscored 76-53 in the process.

“Having to play against Los Angeles and then playing the next night in Anaheim is something that I am not used to,” said Tyler Seguin during a recent appearance on West Coast Bias. “I’m not here to make excuses. It’s definitely different in the West Conference than it was in the Eastern Conference when I played in Boston. A lot of guys here in Dallas are used to it (the grind) and I need to get used to it.”

“All the teams you face on that trip are big, fast and play similar,” Bobby Ryan told MayorsManor. “They come out extremely hard and impose their size on you pretty quickly and if you don’t weather the storm you can be down 2-0 before the ten minute mark wondering what the hell happened.”

The Lightning will be facing a Los Angeles team that has not given up a goal in just over 155 minutes and this time they will have to find a way to beat the Kings without Steven Stamkos in the lineup.

Tampa will get a day off before having to play a well-rested Sharks team that will have not played since Sunday, only to then have to face the Ducks in Anaheim the following night. As if back-to-backs aren’t tough enough in the NHL, the Ducks are the only team who has yet to lose on home ice (8-0-0).

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