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Yzerman won’t blame injuries for Bolts’ playoff miss

2013 NHL Draft

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30: Vice President & General Manager, Alternate Governor Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning looks on during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Tampa Bay Lightning made a valiant attempt to overcome a number of key injuries this season. Alas, their quest to make the playoffs fell just shy of the mark.

At least, that’s how a lot of people saw it.

But not GM Steve Yzerman.

The way Yzerman saw it, the Lightning blew it early on. They didn’t start the season well enough, and missing the playoffs was what they got.

“We as a team, we got humbled a little bit here,” he told reporters today. “We had injuries, but I don’t think injuries are why we aren’t in the playoffs.”

What was it then?

“For whatever reason, we gave up too many quality scoring chances for the better part of 50 games,” he said.

But the injuries can’t be denied. Steven Stamkos only played 17 games. Also missing significant time: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Jason Garrison, and Anton Stralman.

Even Nikita Kucherov only managed to play 74 games, though that was a lot, relatively speaking. Nobody on the Lightning -- not one guy -- appeared in all 82 games. And don’t forget, the Bolts traded Valtteri Filppula, Brian Boyle and Ben Bishop at the deadline.

For the record, Yzerman was happy with his team down the stretch.

“It was playoff mode for the last month and I thought the team responded well,” he said.

The key will be to start next season in the same mode, taking care of both ends of the ice, not making it so hard on the goalies.

Of course, fewer injuries would help, too.