Tic, tac and go.
That's how fast the Lightning are able to get out of the defensive zone and transition to offense. As a result, Tampa Bay is the highest-scoring team in the league, averaging 4.8 goals per game heading into tonight's game against Winnipeg.
And if, as Lightning head coach Guy Boucher likes to say, goals are like bananas because they come in bunches, Tampa Bay is well on its way to generating bushels. Thirteen players have scored goals, and seven have scored at least three.
Most of the offensive outburst stems from how little time Tampa Bay has spent in its zone. The Lightning are getting up the ice quicker, with pucks on the sticks of skilled forwards.
"Our defense has been doing a great job of getting us the puck in a timely fashion," right wing Marty St. Louis said. "It's nice to not spend that much time in our zone. And what I like with our offense, we don't come out with just three, we come out with at least four, as our defense is jumping up in the play.''
Last season, Tampa Bay struggled with the puck in its zone, often getting hemmed in for long periods of time. That resulted in not only numerous scoring chances for opponents, but also it forced players to expend high levels of energy defending. In turn, they had little to nothing left in the tank at the end of the shift to create an offensive rush when the puck was recovered.
The Lightning played a game of defend, recover and dump the puck for a line change, only to have opponents come right back into their zone. The cycle played out numerous times.
The additions of free-agent defensemen Matt Carle and Sami Salo and the improvement of defenseman Victor Hedman have the Lightning generating a quicker transition game. That allowed the coaching staff to make some tweaks in the way Tampa Bay breaks out of its zone.
"Our system was changed some from last year, so I think that makes a huge difference, too,'' captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "Of course, these guys making that first pass out of the zone, they have been doing a good job, but overall it's just been easier because you don't waste 30 seconds in (the defensive zone). We make that first pass and then we are out.''
Tic, tac and go.