With the start of the playoffs, I got curious about how many professional playoff games the players that make up the Tampa Bay Lightning’s roster have participated in. This is certainly a young group and outside of a handful of players, is lacking meaningful NHL playoff time. But we do have multiple young players that have experienced playoff runs with the AHL with two consecutive runs to the Calder Cup Finals in the 2011-2012 season and 2012-2013 season.
For the sake of this exercise, I took players that are currently on the roster that I feel have a good chance of appearing for the Lightning this playoffs. This means guys like Ohlund, Kunyk and Paquette were left out.
Topping the list for NHL playoff experience is Valtteri Filppula with 105 games played. This should come as no surprise given his time in Detroit and their consecutive playoff appearance streak. Next on the list is Sami Salo at 100 games and Matt Carle at 84 games. Ryan Callahan follows it up with 59 games. After that we get a big drop off to Eric Brewer with 30 games and Tom Pyatt with 25 games. The next group is the core players that were here for the 2010-2011 playoff run with 18 games each in Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell, Nate Thompson, and Victor Hedman. BJ Crombeen adds 16 games of experience from his time with Dallas and St. Louis, followed up with Mike Kostka and Anders Lindback with a grand total of 1 game played each. I should also note that Lindback played in 8 playoff games in the Swedish SHL, one of the top European leagues.
As expected, many of the top Bolts have little to no AHL Playoff experience. Guys like Sami Salo, Matt Carle, Ryan Callahan, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman spent very little, if any, time in the AHL before making their way to the NHL and have not experienced the playoffs at the AHL level. The same can be said of Anders Lindback who sat back-up in the NHL instead of developing in the AHL while he was with Nashville.
There is a very strong core of players that have no NHL Playoff experience, but yet boast a good amount of AHL experience. Mark Barberio leads the way at 42, followed by Palat with 36, Panik and Gudas with 34, and Johnson with 32. JT Brown and Andre Sustr have 18 games from last year’s run to the Calder Finals, and Alex Killorn has 17 games from two seasons ago. Additionally Nate Thompson has 37 games and Mike Kostka has 24 games. Filppula clocks in with 16 games while Brewer and Pyatt have 7 each, Crombeen with 5, and Purcell with 4.
Little to No Experience
Fortunately for the Bolts, only a handful of players have very little or no professional playoff experience. Almost without fail, every player on the Bolts roster at least saw playoff time while they were in Juniors, but that isn't the same experience and pace as even an AHL playoff series.
Nikita Kucherov and Kristers Gudlevskis both clock in with zero games, though Kristers does have 1 spectacular Olympics game and 1 bad Olympics game on his resume. Anders Lindback as mentioned earlier has 1 NHL game, while he sat back-up to Pekka Rinne for two playoffs for the Nashville Predators, and 8 SHL playoff games. And last, but certainly not least, Ben Bishop. Despite 168 games of experience in the AHL, Ben Bishop has a grand total of 1 AHL playoff game.
While this young team certainly lacks NHL playoff experience, it does have professional playoff experience up and down the roster. This may not be the year the Lightning make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, but the team will at least take away very valuable experience that can only make this team better in future seasons. I’m excited for this playoffs and the possibilities that this dynamic young team will bring to the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
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