Category: NHL

Tampa Bay Lightning Fires Assistant Coaching Staff after Elimination

The Tampa Bay Lighning have parted ways with their assistant coaching staff, including defensive assistant Rick Bowness, who has been with the team for the last several seasons. This comes just days after the team faced elimination in game seven against the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference NHL Playoffs. The general manger of the Lightning, Steve Yzerman, suggested that the firing was not due to the coaches efforts in assisting the team, but rather to the fact that they have pressed deep into the playoffs only to lose right at or before the Stanley Cup finals.

 

The shakeup to the coaching staff will likely not be felt until training camp in September, however with the bigger picture in mind, the Lightning will have to hope that a new team of assistant coaches could potentially change the way the Lightning perform in deep playoff battles. The Lightning wants to specifically focus on defensive tactics that were apparently missing during the later games of this previous seasons playoffs. Tampa seems to have faded from this defensive mindset that it overwhelmingly had in its 2015 playoff run to the finals, only to eventually lose in six games to Chicago.

 

The Lightning are expected to keep the core roster together for the next season, however some things could unravel during the off-season and free agency, and it is not impossible for things to change unexpectedly. It is becoming apparent that the hockey club in Tampa is getting sick of getting so far into the playoffs only to be eliminated in the final games before the Stanley Cup finals. A significant change in mindset will likely have to take place for this to change, and with every passing season, the average age of this hockey team ticks higher, sparking fears that superstars like Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos could eventually retire without a Stanley Cup.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning – NHL Off-Season Business Plans and Roster Moves

The NHL off-season is usually filled with various business decisions that each organization’s general manager must navigate through. Some of the simple things get caught up in some of the off-season drama, as the NHL Draft approaches and contract renewals become a major focus.

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning managed to earn their way to the Eastern Conference finals, and even more impressive, they competed for an entire seven game series, only to find themselves down four goals late in the third period. Even though their entire season was impressive on an overall scale and perspective, it doesn’t change the fact that very important business decisions lie ahead for the organization’s general manager, Steve Yzerman, who is currently among candidates in being rewarded the best general manager of the year.

 

Some of the things that Yzerman will have to look at includes the renewal of various contracts, the draft of new players coming in from lower leagues and levels, as well as the management of the current team. There are some long-term plans that need to be arranged so that the organization can continue to compete at its current level and make significant playoff runs like this last season. The cap space has seemingly been an issue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they struggle to keep their star players on their rosters with very expensive contracts.

 

Yzerman has managed to balance his costly star players with up-and-comers who have seemingly found themselves molded on the team roster. This balance has allowed the team to stay below the cap-requirement and still stay at a competitive level. The upcoming seasons should keep most of the current players on the Lightning roster, but some minor tweaks may be necessary to give an additional boost to the Lightning to try and force them into the final round so that they can compete for a stanley cup like they did in the 2015 season.

Lightning Come Storming Back to Even Series 2-2

What a difference a few days make.

The Tampa Bay Lightning is back in the hunt for a coveted spot in the National Hockey League finals after it held off the Washington Capitals on Thursday and tied the series at two games each. Just a few days ago, most Lightning fans had given up their team for dead after the Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. What is even more impressive is that Tampa Bay was able to rattle off these two consecutive wins on the road at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Thursday’s 4-2 win by the Lightning sends the series back to Tampa for a Saturday clash at Amalie Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:15 pm. What is left is essentially a best-of-three series with the winner getting the honor of heading to the Stanley Cup Finals to face the winner of the Winnipeg Jets and Las Vegas Golden Knights series. The Golden Knights currently lead that series 2-1 with the next game set to take place on Friday in Las Vegas.

The Lightning was led by goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who turned in one of the most dominant performances of the series. The Caps outshot Tampa Bay 38-20 but the Lightning was still able to pull out the victory in large part because of the Russian goalie’s presence in the net.

Long-time fans of the Lightning should not be surprised about this last gasp by their hometown team. The team has an infamous history of getting down early in a series, only to come storming back on fire and ready to compete. And the Lightning did it again on Thursday, despite the extra bump in energy given to the Capitals when their star center, Nicklas Backstrom, returned to the ice after suffering a hand injury on May 5, causing him to miss four playoff games. Backstrom had four shots on goal, yet it was not enough to send his team to victory.

Tampa Bay Lightning – Their Journey to the NHL’s Final Four

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a poised NHL all regular season and into the playoffs as they dominated opponents throughout the opening two rounds. The defeated the New Jersey Devils in just five games in the opening round of the playoffs. The Lightning have also eliminated the Boston Bruins in as many games in the second round after a controversial series. This is not Tampa Bay’s first time to the Eastern Conference finals, as they have found themselves within this position in three of the last five hockey seasons. The consistency in which they have had these impressive playoff runs is almost unbelievable.

They have been considered a favorite for most of the season, and after missing the 2017 hockey playoffs by one point, you could sense the fact that they had some unfinished business. The Lightning have been an offensive superpower all season long, but what goes unnoticed along their journey to the Eastern Conference finals is the fact that they have had great defensive performances from their defensemen and goaltender. Having a strong offensive force while still maintaining with an above average defensive core is quite remarkable. The depth within their roster allows for these types of performances in the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have to win seven more games before they can lift the Stanley Cup. They have cruised through the opening two rounds and will now have to find a way to come from behind against the Washington Capitals in round three. None-the-less, the Tampa Bay Lightning have found their way to the NHL’s final four on a regular basis in recent years, and this year’s playoff run looks all the more impressive with the performances that are being presented out on the ice. Tampa Bay will face off against the Washington Capitals in game four on Thursday, May 17th in Capital One Arena in Washington.

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.