Tampa Bay Lightning

Content regarding the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

NHL Game Night: 1-6-18 Lightning at Senators

Sloppy Lightning embarrass themselves in Ottawa.

TB-3
OTT-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 33 shots for the loss. I was surprised Cooper didn't pull him to try to spark the team after a disgraceful First Period where they played so poorly in front of him. They finally ran into a night where Andrei didn't bail them out from their biggest mistakes.

First Period
4:48 OTT Dzingel (12), (Stone)
5:51 OTT Duchene (10), (Ryan)
17:04 OTT Smith (4), (Karlsson, Oduya)

Second Period
0:26 TB Hedman (5), (unassisted)
1:41 TB Koekkoek (4), (Kucherov, Killorn)
15:57 TB Gourde (12), (Sergachev, Johnson)(PP)

Third Period
10:44 OTT Stone (17), (Brassard, Chabot)
14:57 OTT Pageau (6), (Karlsson)
17:08 OTT Dzingel (13), (Karlsson, Stone)

When you gift a team, no matter how low they are in the standings, goals off of stupid mistakes, you can get embarrassed like this. The self-inflicted wounds tonight were numerous, including horrible turnovers that led to Ottawa's first goal and game winning goal and a clean faceoff loss that yielded Ottawa's back breaking insurance goal. There's your margin of victory right there. All things the Lightning could've controlled.

Slater Koekkoek had a goal, 4 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:19. Made a dynamite shot joining the play late to score the second goal for the Lightning. All-in-all did nothing to hurt the case for more games.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots in 16:31. He was only 14% on 7 draws, though. I don't think the Lightning are using Gourde to his highest and best by playing him at center, and if the Lightning could acquire a third line center and move Gourde back to wing, I think they'd get some nice results out of it. Tonight was Gourde's 41st game of the season, so he graduates from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in 20:51. Pretty awful start to the game with the turnover that immediately spotted Ottawa a goal. I'm thinking he might want to burn the tape of this one.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper on the goal that tied the game, but was an ugly -4 with 2 penalty minutes to go with 3 shots and 3 hits in 15:59. He also graduated from prospect status on the website in tonight's game.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

NHL Game Night: 1-4-18 Lightning at Canadiens

The Canadian Vasilevskiy edges out the Russian Vasilevskiy.

TB-1
MTL-2 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 38 shots before allowed 1 of 3 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. He might've been the only Lightning player who was prepared to play a hockey game tonight from the opening faceoff and he shouldn't feel any shame for losing such a tightly contested goaltending duel against one of the world's best.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:20 MTL Pacioretty (9), (unassisted)
1:04 TB Kucherov (26), (Stamkos, Hedman)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- NONE
MTL- Byron

Vasilevskiy was the game's second star.

In general, this game just wasn't to the Lightning's standards. Montreal came to the rink treating this game like a measuring stick for their season and their last chance to turn their campaign around. The Lightning, with the exception of Vasilevskiy, came to the rink looking groggy and a little disinterested to start the game and frankly were just too loose defensively over the course of the contest. Way too many odd man rushes. Way too many chances and shots given up. True, the Lightning got more than their fair share too, putting 45 pucks on Price's net and nearly winning in OT when Palat was robbed by a cartwheel save, but this just wasn't good enough overall.

With the Vasilarceny of a single point, the Lightning close out the fourth 10-game segment of the year with a stylish 13 insurance points in the bank. The Lightning could play .438 hockey the rest of the way this year and probably still make the postseason, so the real challenge of the second half for this team will be refining their game and making sure they keep enforcing best practices and best habits. The last couple of games haven't been great ones in that "coaching against perfection" template.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 14:42. He was also 56% on 9 draws. After a sleepy start I thought he had a pretty good game. Gourde will graduate from prospect status on the website with one more game played this season.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 5 blocked shots in 18:43.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 21:37. Not an altogether consistent effort by Sergachev, whose horrific turnover in a 4-on-4 led to Montreal's only regulation goal. He'll also graduate from prospect status on the website with one more NHL game this season.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-2-18 Lightning at Maple Leafs

Leafs trampled by kittens.

TB-2
TOR-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy raised the forcefields for a 30 save shutout. That's Vasilevskiy's second straight shutout and his third in the past four starts. He needed to be stellar tonight in a road game where the team in front of him didn't quite seem to have its A game, and he was magnificent.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
12:00 TB Paquette (1), (Kunitz)
16:54 TB Killorn (5), (Sergachev, Gourde)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Vasilevskiy, Alex Killorn, and Mikhail Sergachev were the game's three stars.

Kind of a strange game. The possession numbers favored the Lightning by a decent margin as they won shots on goal and had a slight edge in the volume of shots that were blocked/missed. With that said, I thought Toronto played a very patient and very structured game and were very dangerous on the counter where the Lightning gave up a lot of odd man chances, particularly in the Second Period. The difference, ultimately, was Andrei Vasilevskiy, who now inhabits his own wing in Mitch Marner's mansion of nightmares after tonight. Some in Vegas are making Vasilevskiy the 2:1 favorite to win the Vezina Trophy now. Let me remind you all: he's 23. If he stays healthy, we may all be bearing witness to the beginning of one of the legendary careers for a goaltender in the sport... and an X-factor that may well make the Lightning one of the Cup favorites for at least the next half decade.

This game is not without its cautionary tales, though. Toronto and some of the faster teams in the league have identified that the Lightning's right defense are a little slow-footed. Moving forward, Yzerman has the more-difficult-than-it-looks task of improving the team's right side defense, finding a faceoff ace, and also finding another ace penalty killer to address the team's weaknesses WITHOUT harming the team chemistry, which is obviously amazing at the moment.

The Lightning have now reached 60 points through 39 games. What that means is that the Lightning are now a full 10-game segment's worth of points (12) ahead of the minimum pace they need to be at to make the playoffs with one more game remaining in this segment. Even if they didn't snag a point in their last contest, they'd have to only play .450 hockey the rest of the way to punch their ticket to the postseason. Perhaps this is why some fancy stats models now give the Lightning a 100% chance of making the playoffs?

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 in 14:23. He was also 50% on 6 draws.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:11. Big minutes for the Ontario boy playing in the ACC.

Sergachev had a helper and was +1 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots in 17:27.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-31-17 Lightning at Blue Jackets

Kittens over cannons.

TB-5
CBJ-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout to release the kittens on New Years Eve. Typical Vasilevskiy. Play a great opening frame of the period until the team gets its legs underneath it, and bathe in the waters of sweet goal support the rest of the way.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
1:22 TB Johnson (11), (Point, Sergachev)
4:49 TB Johnson (12), (Point, Sergachev)
7:53 TB Kucherov (25), (Namestnikov)
8:45 TB Conacher (3), (Gourde, Hedman)

Third Period
10:36 TB Stamkos (17), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)

Tyler Johnson, Mikhail Sergachev, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

After a few games were the Lightning struggled to get the goals they needed and a very sleepy effort against the Flyers, in a loss, maybe an eruption like we saw tonight in the Second Period was inevitable. The Lightning had another subpar First Period, getting outshot 12-5 and earning the wrath of Coach Cooper before annihilating the Blue Jackets like the Death Star in the middle frame. Buoyed by a couple of early goals by Tyler Johnson, the Lightning ultimately outshot Columbus by a staggering 23-6 margin in that period and the results speak for themselves. After a couple of seasons of seeming regression in his play, Johnson's had a rebirth on the wing for the Lightning this month. The position forces him to simplify his game and use his north-south oriented gifts to their maximum ability.

The victory clinches the Lightning's fourth successful 10-game segment of the season with 12 points earned over eight games. What's more, with two games left in the segment, if the Lightning get just two more points they will be a full segment ahead of playoff pace in their postseason quest, which is somewhat nuts.

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +2 with 4 shots in 16:35. He was also 55% on 11 draws. Obviously, like the entire team, he showed way more energy than in the Philly game.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 17:32.

Sergachev had a pair of helpers and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 17:57. Fancy stats people will point to 8 shot attempts as proof of his possession dominance tonight. Hence the star.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-29-17 Flyers at Lightning

Lightning lose sloppy game, and possibly their backup goaltender.

PHI- 5
TB- 3

Petr Budaj allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the loss before exiting with what appeared to be a significant left leg injury caused by an accidental collision with a sliding Scott Laughton. I thought the fourth goal exposed some of Budaj’s athletic limitations, but he actually played a very good game before the unfortunate injury. I’d expect Louis Domingue recalled for what may be an extended stint from Syracuse. He’s had NHL experience with Arizona and is a bigger goalie who fits what Frantz Jean teaches. I think he’ll do a good job for Tampa Bay if he gets the call. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 4 shots he faced in relief.

First Period
7:27 TB Stamkos (16), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
6:56 PHI Simmonds (12), (Couturier, Voracek)(PP)
10:03 PHI Gostisbehere (8), (Simmonds, Giroux)(PP)
15:37 TB Point (16), (Palat, Kucherov)
19:48 PHI Couturier (18), (Giroux, Konecny)

Third Period
1:53 PHI Manning (4), (Giroux, Konecny)
8:58 TB Johnson (10), (unassisted)(SH)
19:27 PHI Filppula (9), (Voracek, Couturier)(EN)

Tyler Johnson was the game’s third star.

Not much to love about this game. The Lightning got outpossessed and outworked and Philly earned the goals they manufactured with the elbow grease expended. Other than Point, nobody in blue appeared to have any jump and only the fluke luck of Provorov’s broken stick on Johnson’s SH goal game them a chance to net points at the end, which they frankly didn’t deserve tonight.

Slater Koekkoek played 8:09. If you blinked you might’ve missed him.

Yanni Gourde was -1 in 16:14 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot. He was also 42% on 12 draws. I think you want more from an energy guy like Gourde in a game like this.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:12. I’m surprised his IT went down against this opponent. I wonder if fatigue was an element of that.

Mikhail Sergachev had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:53.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-28-17 Canadiens at Lightning

Patient Lightning outlasts punchless Habs.

MTL- 1
TB- 3

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the victory. It says everything about where he has progressed in his career that beating Carey Price in a goaltending duel is a non-story.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
3:40 MTL Gallagher (15), (Hudon, Morrow)(PP)
19:48 TB Stamkos (14), (Kucherov, Hedman)

Third Period
0:30 TB Point (15), (Johnson, Palat)
4:45 TB Stamkos (15), (Namestnikov, Palat)(PP)

Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov were the game’s three stars.

As with the Minnesota game, the Lightning found themselves tonight having to maintain poise and patience in a low scoring game where chances were finding iron more than paydirt. There’s going to be plenty of games like this to come in the postseason, so it’s good for the team to continue getting comfortable playing in and winning a few games like this. Ultimately, the Lightning got the big swing with goals in the last minute of the Second Period and first minute of the Third Period... mental bugs that Montreal surely has to be sore about. Then, unlike the Minny game, the Lightning enlisted Espo’s Rule as an ally with Stamkos’ hiccup quick finish on the insurance marker.

Yanni Gourde was 70% on 10 draws in 13:04. It’s a thin stat line, but gosh a faceoff percentage like that is a real breath of fresh air to see.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 17:08. It was a very poised performance by the entire D in Stralman’s absence, albeit against a Montreal team that couldn’t find its offense with GPS and a seeing eye dog at the moment.

Mikhail Sergachev was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 18:49. A stat line like that isn’t glamorous, but I’ll happily take that most every night for the rookie. The gaudy offensive numbers are the bonus. The quality, well-rounded minutes are what you need.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-23-17 Wild at Lightning

Despite looking like a dental procedure, the Lightning head into the holiday break with a big win.

MIN-0
TB-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 22 shots he faced to give all of us the gift of holiday kittens. Enjoy.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
17:18 TB Girardi (2), (Point)
18:10 TB Johnson (9), (Dotchin)
19:07 TB Kucherov (24), (Namestnikov, Girardi)(EN)

Vasilevskiy, Dan Girardi, and Tyler Johnson were the game's three stars. How in the blue hell Brayden Point didn't get a star for hand delivering the GWG is beyond me.

I wouldn't want to have to sit through too many more games like that, but tonight's victory was a positive from the standpoint that it showed the Lightning are capable of winning another style of game. The Lightning had complete control of the contest for the opening ten minutes of the First Period when the penalty bug bit them. The subsequent 50 or so minutes of hockey was an unending cacophony of special teams play as both teams paraded en masse to the penalty box. Did it make the game aesthetically displeasing? Sure. Did it make more than a few fans want to choke the refs? Probably. The good news is the struggling Lightning PK managed to blank six Wild power plays to get well after some disastrous play against the likes of Las Vegas in the last week. And, after a night that sometimes resembled a root canal a la the game against Ottawa when the team also couldn't hit the net to save their lives, Girardi's tap in goal off the excellent feed from Point may have been a floodgates moment that ends that particular malady less than six periods after it began. Good.

Tampa Bay heads into the holiday break with 54 points in 35 games. They need just four points in the next five games to clinch another successful 10-game segment of the season and if they can manage six of the next 10 points they'll be a full segment ahead of minimum pace to make the playoffs. Impressive.

Yanni Gourde had 1 shot in 13:02 and was also 36% on 11 draws.

Jake Dotchin had a helper and was +1 with 5 hits and 1 blocked shot in 17:11. Big rebound from a subpar Ottawa performance.

Mikhail Sergachev had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 15:20. He was all over the offensive zone like a rash at times.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-21-17 Senators at Lightning

Lightning get two points they earned the hard way.

OTT-3
TB-4 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 21 shots before denying booth shooters he faced for the SO win. Puck luck bit him with the own goal by Girardi and the double deflection on the Brassard goal.

First Period
6:31 OTT Ryan (4), (unassisted)

Second Period
11:59 TB Johnson (9), (Kucherov, Hedman)
14:34 OTT Ceci (5), (Brassard, Claesson)
15:40 TB Gourde (11), (Conacher, Killorn)

Third Period
5:59 OTT Brassard (9), (Karlsson, Stone)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
OTT- NONE
TB- Point, Stamkos

Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov were the game's first and third stars.

The score doesn't reflect the degree to which the Lightning dominated MOST of the game. The opening 20 minutes were pretty fractured and saw a lot of the same breakout issues and turnovers that plagued the team over the prior four periods of hockey between Colorado and Las Vegas. They got pretty unlucky on the Girardi own goal, but honestly they probably deserved to be down after that opening frame. From there, the team really took off the remaining 40 minutes of regulation and had total control of OT. The finishing wasn't there tonight, but they outchanced Ottawa by a roughly 2:1 margin by the time the contest was over. In a perfect world they'd have wrapped it up in regulation, but ultimately the two points are the thing.

The Lightning have 6 games remaining in this 10-game segment of the season to collect 6 more points to make it a successful one. Good spot to be.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 12:52. Really went to the high traffic areas hard tonight and got rewarded.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:42. Not going to lie: he was simply not good tonight. Some pretty heinous turnovers. Maybe that's a product of the flu bug, but that wasn't pretty.

Mikhail Sergachev had 1 shot in 20:38. Seems like he's spiking up over 20 minutes quite a bit lately, which is good to see.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-19-17 Lightning at Golden Knights

Lightning come up snake eyes in first trip to Sin City.

TB-3
LV-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the loss. He was, in my mind, uncharacteristically average tonight in a game where the team in front of him really needed the bail out.

First Period
7:43 TB Stamkos (13), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
19:13 TB Namestnikov (14), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
10:07 LV Neal (17), (Perron, Theodore)(PP)
18:21 LV Marchessault (12), (Perron, Theodore)(PP)

Third Period
4:42 LV Haula (13), (Theodore, Perron)(PP)
16:08 TB Hedman (4), (Stamkos)
19:57 LV Theodore (2), (Marchessault, Haula)(PP)

Whether tonight was because of a flu big running through the team, which led to Tyler Johnson and Jake Dotchin being late scratches, or a couple of long nights on The Strip, that was the Lightning's worst effort since the debacle in Boston. That they had any opportunity at all to steal a point after Fleury's gift of a soft goal at all was mildly remarkable. The team just played a very lightweight game. Soft passes and over-stickhandling leading to a bevy of turnovers coming out of their own end and they just didn't have the puck enough to merit a victory. How they managed 38 shots on Fleury I have no clue because it seemed like they barely had the puck and what little they did they were either turning it over, icing it, or chipping it up the boards just to relieve the pressure.

With that said, awfully ticky tack call on Coburn that led to the GWG. Gallant had a minor hissy fit on a prior call on Engelland that was an absolutely appropriate call and he was rewarded with the make up whistle. In the grand scheme, the Lightning probably deserved the result they got, but in that moment that call was mildly atrocious.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:50. Didn't have a great First Period. Didn't seem to see the ice much thereafter.

Yanni Gourde had 1 blocked shot and was 44% on 9 draws in 21:33.

Mikhail Sergachev had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 14:11. If he's ill, that's a fair excuse, but he was brutal tonight coming out of his own end. His turnover that led to his penalty that led to Vegas' third goal would've gotten a lot of rookies benched (if not demoted). There's a line where confidence with the puck bleeds over into utter stupidity. Sergachev leapt over that boundary a few times tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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