Category: NHL

Lightning Continue Playoff Push

The 2017 NHL season is continuing to turn into a very exciting one. Currently, there are many teams that are looking sharp and ready to compete for a deep playoff run. One team that has continued to look very strong are the Tampa Bay Lightning. Similar to the past few years, the Lightning are looking for one of the top teams in the league. They are currently in first place in the Atlantic Division, but just one point ahead of the Boston Bruins. They are also the current owner of the most points in the NHL and look like they could be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

As the Lightning continue to play well, the team is also looking for ways in which it could improve its roster (https://www.rawcharge.com/2018/2/15/17007764/steve-yzerman-2018-trade-deadline-strategy-primer-nhl-tampa-bay-lightning-review-mcdonagh-karlsson). As the team continues to move forward and stare down the trade deadline, there are many big moves that the team could make to improve the team for the playoffs.

Two players that the Lightning are considering going after are Mike Green and Ryan McDonagh. Both of these players are having good years and would make great additions to the team that is looking to add depth. However, Tampa will have to consider how many prospects they want to give up for players that will likely only be around for the next one or two years.

While the Lightning are looking for ways to add depth to their team, there are already a number of great players on the roster that could help to make them stronger competition than ever before. Overall, the team is best known for their offense. With an average of 3.5 goals per game, the team is ranked number one in the league offensively. Much of this is due to the seasons that Nikita Kucherov and Steve Stamkos are having. Both of these players are among the league leaders in total point and will compete for the MVP trophy.

While the team has a great offense and amazing statistics, the team also is great on defense. Overall, the team is 6th in the NHL in terms of goals allowed on average. This is largely due to a tandem of goalies that the team has that continue to keep pucks out of the goal.

2018 NHL All-Star Game to Feature Four from Host Tampa Bay

On January 28th, Tampa will host the NHL All-Star Game for a second time after having featured the event back in 1999. With the Tampa Bay Lightning currently atop NHL standings, a league-leading four players from the team have been chosen to take part in the festivities.

Nikita Kucherov, who leads the league in goals and points, will be joined by linemate and Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos, defenseman Victor Hedman, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Only one other team, the Los Angeles Kings, had even three players selected as All-Stars.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper will be behind the bench at the All-Star Game for the Atlantic Division team.

Lightning fans have the good fortune of Tampa getting to host All-Star Weekend during a season in which their team is absolutely dominating the competition. With a stellar record of 31-9-3, Tampa Bay is comfortably ahead of all other Atlantic Division squads, and even has considerable breathing room in the Eastern Conference and in the NHL as a whole. The Lightning lead the league in goals scored as well as in scoring differential. In addition to the team’s otherworldly offense led by Stamkos and Kucherov, Vasilevskiy is leading all netminders with six shutouts.

Tampa Bay has designs on greatness beyond just the All-Start Game this year. After losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, the Lightning made a deep playoff run again in 2016 when they lost in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pittsburgh Penguins who went on to hoist the Stanley Cup. Due in large part to injuries to Stamkos, Tampa Bay narrowly missed the playoffs in 2017. If the Lightning can maintain its current winning pace, the team will be able to count on home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs this spring.

The All-Star Game will look different to Tampa residents who last attended in 1999. It is now a three-on-three single-elimination tournament made up of three 20-minute games. In each of the two semi-final games, All-Stars from two divisions face off. The winning divisions from those two games then meet in the final match. Instead of having standard overtime, tied games go directly into a shootout round.

Lightning Show No Signs of Slowing Down:

Here it is, halfway through the NHL season. At this point, it is pretty clear who are the contenders, who are on the bubble, and who have zero hope of reaching the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are clearly in the first category. Not only are they contenders, they remain the best team in the league. As of January 10th, the Bolts are 31-9-3, good for 65 points, the most in the league. Just behind them is the surprise team in not just the NHL, but in all of sports, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who are 29-10-2 with 60 points. If anyone expects the bottom to fall out sometime for the Lightning, don’t plan on it. Yes, they did lose back-to-back games the first week of January — one of those loses coming in a 2-1 shootout versus Montreal. But Tampa Bay is 7-2-1 in its last ten games. They also went 11-2 for the month of December. After a run like that, a little bump in the road is expected. But the Lightning responded from those back-to-back losses with back-to-back wins over Detroit and Carolina.

The Lightning are tops in the league in several key categories. They rank number one in goals per game at 3.7. Six players are at double digits in goals, with Nikita Kucherov collecting 27. The defense has been just as strong, with Tampa Bay allowing 2.4 goals per game, the 2nd best average in the NHL. Along with Andrei Vasilevskiy having a 2.10 GAA, only two players on the roster have a plus-minus rating in the negative numbers. The defensemen can also get into the scoring act as well, as the blue liners have put up 30 goals this season, led by Mikhail Sergachev with eight. Your text to link… They are also third in the power play at 24.7 percent.

The Lightning’s winning ways have allowed them to build up a 12-point lead over Boston and Toronto in the Atlantic Division, and that’s with the Bruins recent 8-0-2 run. The only way for Tampa Bay to lose its hold on the division is with an epic collapse. That, however, appears unlikely.

How Did the Lightning Become the NHL’s Best Team?:

Prior to the start of the season, many fans probably thought the Tampa Bay Lightning would be a good team. Certainly a team that could qualify for the playoffs, which they failed to do the season prior. But they probably did not expect the Bolts to be the best team in the NHL.

Tampa Bay goes into the middle of December with a record of 23-6-2 and 48 points to not only lead the Atlantic Division, but stand atop the entire League. St. Louis and Nashville are right behind the Lightning in terms of points, with 44.

How have the Lightning reached this plateau? Obviously scoring has a lot to do with it. Tampa Bay has put together a balanced scoring attack, with Steven Stamkos again at the center of it. Some fans probably worried about bringing him back when his offense slipped last season to 64 points, after racking up 90-plus points in the previous three seasons. But in his first 31 games of 2017-2018, Stamkos has garnered 43 points (12 goals and 31 assists). Your text to link…Doing even better is Nikita Kucherov, who has 44 points. Of his 22 goals, 18 are even strength. All the other lines have proven to be offensive threats as well. Brayden Point has 30 points playing on the second line, while Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn have combined for 40 points on the third line. Veterans like Ryan Callahan and Chris Kunitz give the fourth line a decent punch.

All that offense, however, means nothing if you can’t keep the other team from scoring. The Lightning are blessed with two great defensemen in Victor Hedman, who finished third in last year’s Norris Trophy voting, and Anton Stralman. The addition of 19-year-old Mikhail Sergachev has only added to the strength of a solid defense, as he usually gets the tough assignments. Then, of course, there’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has a .934 save percentage. All of that is the reason the Lightning have given up 75 goals so far this season, the lowest total of any team. It’s also why you can expect Tampa Bay to not fade in the season’s second half.

Lightning Take On Struggling Coyotes On Game 2 Of Roadtrip

After blanking the Blues on game 1 of their road trip, the Lightning looks to pile on another win in Arizona tonight.

With a record of 22-6-2, the Lightning leads the Atlantic Division with 45 points and a 5 game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Coyotes sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division with a record of 7-21-5 with only 19 points. One could easily say that tonight’s game could be a trouble-free night for Tampa Bay. However, mismatches like this could also end up being a trap game from the division-leading Lightning.

Consider that the Lighting is heading into game 2 of a road trip, playing three time zones away from their home site. During their last road trip, the Lightning lost three out of four games. That included a shutout against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. The Tampa Bay side may not have a sure thing in Glendale tonight.

Then again. Let’s look at the Coyote’s numbers on their home ice. Arizona has a record of 3-8-1 at Gila River Arena. One of worst in the NHL. By the looks of the Coyote’s home record, the odds should favor the Lightning. However, there is some additional data to suggest that tonight’s game may be closer than expected.

Last season, the Lightning went 0-2 against Arizona, being outscored by 5-3 in both matches. With more than a couple of games to give in the Atlantic Division, the Lightning may not put on their best effort in order to preserve some energy for the rest of their road trip.

Also, Arizona will have some incentive to play harder in front of their home crowd. And the Coyotes may find themselves in a sort of comfort zone given that 9 of their next 11 games will take place at home.

Overall, tonight’s match may be more competitive than the teams’ respective records suggest. Look for a high scoring game that may end up going into overtime. If that is the case, the Coyotes may have an outside chance to steal a game against the Lightning.

Vasilevskiy Lifts Lightning at Amalie Arena

The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to one of the best starts in the NHL this season. Their dominance at home includes six straight wins. A big reason for the Lightning’s success has been the outstanding play of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Vasilevskiy has been a model of consistency, winning nine straight starts for the Lightning. This ties the young Russian for a franchise record with John Grahame, a Tampa Bay legend who accomplished the feat in 2005.

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise to sports fans that Tampa Bay is making a strong start. The team is deep at every position and has been knocking on the door of a second Stanley Cup for a couple of years now. With the play of Vasilevskiy and Steven Stamkos, the Bolts cannot be disputed as a contender. It is Vasilevskiy, however, who is getting a lot of cheers from the fans at Amalie Arena.

There were some concerns among fans when the Bolts traded goalie Ben Bishop to the Dallas Stars. Bishop is the tallest goaltender to ever play in the NHL and his presence in front of the Tampa Bay net was often key to the team’s success. Vasilevskiy was tasked with filling some big shoes when he assumed the starting role for the 2017-18 season.

The young man has thus far shown incredible poise. During his nine-game winning streak, Vasilevskiy has posted a save percentage of .946. It is still early in the season but the goalie is making a difference. His performance on the Lightning’s home ice is especially impressive. The Bolts recently fell to the Anaheim Ducks at home, snapping a six-game win streak in Amalie Arena. During that stretch, Vasilevskiy had games with 28 or more saves. These performances included outings against the Detroit Red Wings and other tough teams.

Will the Russian be able to continue his excellent play? Fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning hope so. At the moment it appears that staying healthy for the entire NHL season may be the biggest threat Vasilevskiy will face as the Bolts chase another chance at the Cup.

NHL: After Leaving New York, Dan Girardi Seeks to Prove He Can Still Contribute in Tampa

Last season, NHL Defenseman Dan Girardi was at a crossroads in his career. After an 11-year career with the New York Rangers, Girardi was being “bought out” by the team. Girardi knew he still had a lot left in the tank, so he signed a 2-year, $6 million contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Of course, for the Rangers it was strictly a business decision. Injuries and the speed of the game have taken their toll on Girardi, per Yahoo Sports Tampa Bay.

Even though Girardi believes he did not leave New York on the best terms, he is a man on a mission. He is seeking to prove that even though his ice time has decreased significantly from 2012 on he can still be competitive for his new term. Even though he only received 26 minutes per game in 2011 and then had that number drop to 25:24, 23:07, 22:41, 20:19 and then 19:06, the Lightning believe that with the right young players around him Girardi can still be an asset to his new team.

Simply put, Girardi is hungry. He has recuperated well from his injuries and continues to train each and every day for his new role with the Lightning. He is on record for saying that he feels “100% great.” Ask Girardi, and he will tell you that there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to staying with one team for a long period. Unfortunately, the trap one can fall in is getting into “cruise control” and getting used to things the way they are.

Now that Girardi has something to prove, we can expect that his productivity numbers will go up, not down. Tampa Bay Lightning fans can definitely look forward to some productive play from Girardi. It is truly the Ranger’s loss.

The Tampa Bay Lightning Sign Dan Girardi

The Lightning just signed defenseman and NHL veteran Dan Girardi to play for them. The contract is $6 million for two years.

Prior to that, he played 63 games for the New York Rangers, an average of 20 minutes per game. He scored four goals and gets credit for 11 assists. This level of performance did not match the goals of his contract with the Rangers, so they bought him out.

The Lightning still need depth in their blue line. They still have only five NHL defensemen. Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman will continue to play the biggest roles for the Lightning. Ryan Callahan and Anton Stralman are former Rangers teammates of his.

Girardi’s seven-year-old son Landon was happy at the change because he wanted Steven Stamkos’s autograph. Fortunately, Stamkos texted Girardi a big welcome to the team, and told Girardi to let him know if Stamkos could do anything for him. He probably was not expecting a request for his autograph.

Giradi is 6 feet, 1 inches tall and weighs 212 pounds. At the age of 33, he has played in 788 regular season games and 122 playoff games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning also signed Chris Kunitz as forward. Kunitz has earned four Stanley Cup rings. He won two playing with Pittsburgh in the past two years.

The Lightning general manager Steve Izerman said that signing Kunitz and Girardi would make their defense stronger than it was last season. It would bring an element of abrasiveness. That would make them harder to play against.

Girardi said he is a team-first type of guy. He doesn’t look for fights, but he sticks up for his teammates. He plays hard and finishes checks. He says he does not like playing against Kunitz. This implies he will enjoy playing on the same team on Kunitz. Kunitz is a tough player who goes straight up against the opponents and scores goals.

Time To Rebuild for Lightning:

Two years ago they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks. Last season, they were one win away from a second straight trip to the Cup Finals. All indications were the Tampa Bay Lightning were on the cusp of becoming one of the NHL’s elite teams.

 

That’s not the case in 2016-2017. The Bolts are 29-25-8 with 66 points and lingering in sixth place in the Atlantic Division. With playoffs seemingly out of reach, Tampa Bay spent the days leading up to the March 1st trade deadline unloading some of its top players and preparing for rebuild mode.

 

First to go was Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay’s mainstay in goal since 2013-2014. He was sent to the Los Angeles Kings, along with a seventh round draft pick, for goalie Peter Budaj (27-20 this season), defenseman Erik Cernak, and two draft picks. Your text to link… A day later, on February 27th, veteran center Brian Boyle was shipped off to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Byron Froese, who had 24 goals and 15 assists in 48 games this season for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, and a draft pick.

 

Deadline day brought the third and final big trade for the Lightning as they eye their future. Valtteri Filppula, who has turned into more of an assist man than a goal scorer over the past three seasons, was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers, along with two draft picks, for defenseman Mark Streit, who was immediately sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2018 fourth round draft pick.

 

In losing three prominent players from its roster, the Lightning gained a quality goaltender and four draft picks, five when counting their January 27th deal with Montreal that included defenseman Jonathan Racine, and two prospects in Froese and Cernak. Should the infusion of youth work out, they’ll be added to a roster that already has solid goal scorers like Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson. Once Steven Stamkos is healed up and back on the ice, look for Tampa Bay to be back in the Stanley Cup mix.

 

Alan Thicke’s role in the birth of the Tampa Bay Lightning

It was a shock to everyone when Alan Thicke died at age 69 right after enjoying a hockey game with his son, Carter, age 19.

 

Alan is remembered for playing the dad on the sitcom “Growing Pains“. He also hosted “Thicke of the Night,” a late-night talk show and was a very talented song writer writing the themes for “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.”

 

In Tampa, Florida, Alan is also remembered by fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team because he was the on-ice pre-game host and the master of ceremonies for the inaugural game of the Lightning at Expo Hall against the Blackhawks on October 7, 1992. He also helped to promote the 1999 All-Star Game in Tampa.

 

With his life-long love of hockey and being an enthusiastic hockey fan, in addition to being a close friend of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, Alan had become friends with Lightning founder Phil Esposito when Esposito was a Rangers player. Thicke wrote the cult-classic song “Hockey Sock Rock” that Esposito sang and which was turned into a charity video. From that friendship came Alan‘s invitation to that first Lightning game.

 

It was hoped that the Tampa Bay Lightning found what was needed to pull themselves out of their recent rut with their recent 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames, when the Flames were considered to be the best Western team as December progressed and up in the standings to be in a playoff spot. However, the Lightning fell 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in the season finale on December 17.

 

Back in September 2015, the Tampa Bay Lightning along with the National Hockey League Players’ Association and the National Hockey League announced that they were investing over $6 million over the coming five years in an extensive program, Build the Thunder. The mission is to grow the game of hockey and its fans and teach life skills lessons by players and alumni as role models and teachers to approximately 100,000 local young people who will learn critical educational and life skills.