Can Anyone Stop the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The Tampa Bay Lightning are leading the NHL. They're the current Stanley Cup favorites and are on a seven-game winning streak.

But Tampa Bay hasn't received a huge amount of press about their dominance this season. Perhaps it's because they're not winning in an especially flashy way. There are lots of great players on the team rather than one big star. They don't win in the same way every time, so there's no obvious story about what kind of team they are.

Sometimes they totally crush their opponents. Other times, it's close. It's won thanks to the penalty kill and power play. Sometimes the team leads the whole time. In other games, they come back from a 1- or 2-goal deficit.

The fact that they can win in so many different ways means that they're an excellent all-around team. They don't just have one super powerful weapon. The whole team is a well-oiled machine. Everyone shows up and does their jobs well, and that wins them games.

A Winning Record

There's no doubt that the Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the league. Their stats prove it.
The 24-7 Lightning, in the entire NHL, have the:

• Most wins
• Most points
• Highest point percentage
• Best goal difference
• Second-best goal difference
• Second-best power play
• Sixth-best five-on-five possession stats
• Eighth-best penalty kill

These incredible numbers are made even more impressive by the fact that Tampa Bay doesn't play in the easiest division. The team has a brutal schedule, as well. The Lightning recently played 25 games in 48 nights in addition to practices, the importance of which Lightning Coach Jon Cooper has emphasized. Their offseason workouts focused on speed and explosiveness, and it seems that those practices are paying off.

Some of the team's best players have even missed games. All-star goaltender and high-end defender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been out since mid-November. Left wing Ondrej Palat missed 16 games earlier in the season. Victor Hedman missed seven.

It's starting to seem like no one will be able to stop the Lightning.

Team Players

Although there isn't just one star on the Lightning that overshadows the rest of the team, several leaders have emerged throughout the season. For a while, Brayden Point was the hero. Next, it was Nikita Kucherov. Now, Steven Stamkos is in the spotlight.

In the recent game against the Rangers, Stamkos scored his 700th career point and his ninth hat trick in a win that extended the Tampa Bay's win streak to seven. He scored 4 points in the team's 6-3 victory over New York. Stamkos' hat trick record is the best in team history. The night before in the team's 7-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche, he scored 4 points.

Goalie Louis Domingue has put on an impressive performance filling in for the injured Vasilevskiy for all but one of the 15 games he missed. Domingue won 11 of those 14 games, and he finished last week with a .957 save percentage.

Signs now point to Vasilevskiy returning soon, about four weeks after his injury. Tampa Bay re-assigned goalie Eddie Pasquale to the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning's primary development affiliate. Pasquale had one start during Vasilevskiy's absence, a game which the team won.

The return of Vasilevskiy has the potential to make Tampa Bay an even stronger team. If he can return to the level of play he demonstrated at the beginning of the season, the Lightning may have an even stronger defense, reducing the need to focus on outscoring teams to win games.

Can Anyone Stop the Lightning?

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the NHL, and they may soon get even better. Will anyone be able to stop them? In the playoffs, anything can happen, but we have half a year to find out.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site