Maybe the Lightning are one defenseman short. But the real difference between this team and the 2004 team is the difference between Nikolai Khabibulin and Marc Denis.

Last season, the Lightning’s struggles clearly involved a lack of confidence in their goalkeeping. Tortorella never hid the fact that he was disappointed with John Grahame and Sean Burke.

The Lightning traded for Marc Denis with the hope that he would provide stability.

“He has given us a chance to win,” Feaster said. “Marc does a good job of controlling his rebounds, and when he plays he looks in control. The guys believe that they will get a solid effort from him. As a result, we have been more aggressive.”

Although Khabibulin was more celebrated than Denis is when he won his first Cup, he was still considered unproven. He had some ups and downs in Tampa Bay.

What Denis has been is solid this season. If Richards starts to surge and the Lightning become as dangerous offensively as they were in 2003-04, then solid might be good enough to give Tampa Bay a chance.

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