2016-17 Season Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Winnipeg Jets
The last in our head-to-head series for 2016-17!
View from the Other Bench:
“The Winnipeg Jets (17-19-3) will continue their up and down season tonight against a hobbled Tampa Bay Lightning (19-15-4) squad.
“With a 7-11-2 record away from the MTS Centre, Winnipeg kicks off the year with a three-game swing through the Eastern Conference. After tonight, they'll head a stone's throw away to face the Florida Panthers, followed by a Saturday afternoon match-up against the Buffalo Sabres. Tampa Bay's 11-5-2 record at home doesn't inspire any extra confidence.
“With Stamkos, Brayden Point, Cedric Paquette and Brian Boyle all hurt, tonight will see 2013 draft selection Adam Erne make his NHL debut. A pitbull on skates, Erne adds a solid mixture of skill, mobility and toughness to a fourth line already featuring J.T. Brown.”
- PhilipAiver at Arctic Ice Hockey
Did the Jets help or hurt the Lightning this season?
You could really call it a wash. The Lightning scored 4 goals in both outings against the team from Manitoba. In both games, the road team was victorious, and in both games, the Jets mustered 33* shots on a Tampa Bay goalie, which is a little higher than the amount of shots you’d like to give up defensively as a team. In their win in January, Winnipeg actually had 34 shots, as their final shot was an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
In the loss in January, Tampa Bay put up 36 shots. In the win in February, however, it only took 30 shots to defeat the Jets—the fourth goal coming in the form of an empty netter.
In the end, the Lightning took two out of a possible four points against the Jets, who, along with the Lightning, did not qualify for the playoffs this year. In the loss in January, the Lightning found themselves down 5-2 mid-way through the final frame. After two Nikita Kucherov false hope power play goals, the Lightning were in striking distance to steal the game with under three minutes to play but could not do so after rookie Patrik Laine potted his 20th goal of the season into the empty net. However, in the February win, the Lightning stormed out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period and comfortably won the tilt.
January 3, 2017 - Tampa Bay 4, Winnipeg 6 (Game played in Tampa)
Preview: “We’re hitting game four of this five-game homestand and the Lightning have put themselves in a good position moving forward. The long road trip in the middle of January is going to be a big test, one the Lightning can’t afford to flounder.” -iActium
Recap: “In spite of the fact that the Lightning never held a lead and put forth a less-than-stellar defensive effort throughout, for large chunks of this one it felt like they were thisclose to getting a chance to steal some points. But it simply wasn’t meant to be, and frankly they got the result they deserved.” - Clark J. Brooks
February 11, 2017 - Tampa Bay 6, Winnipeg 1 (Game played in Winnipeg)
Preview: “The Lightning and Jets are separated by one point in the overall league standings (the Bolts have one more). Despite both teams being in the bottom of their respective conferences, they’re trending in the opposite direction: The Lightning have earned five points in the last three games while the Jets have lost three straight.” - Waffleboardsave
Recap: “Tonight’s effort was outstanding and looked like a Lightning win. This is the kind of hockey we’ve been hoping for since Stamkos went down. Keep it up, and we can look at a playoff run and maybe even a Stanley Cup run. The team certainly has the talent for it. Now we just need to see if they have the drive for it.” - GeoFitz4
Goals: Nikita Kucherov (2), Ondrej Palat (2), Matthew Peca (1), Victor Hedman (1), Brian Boyle (1), Brayden Point (1)
Assists: Victor Hedman (3), Tyler Johnson (2), Jonathan Drouin (2), Alex Killorn (1), Nikita Kucherov (1), Vladislav Namestnikov (1), Andrej Sustr (1), Brayden Point (1), Cedric Paquette (1), Ondrej Palat (1), Jake Dotchin (1)
Points: Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman (3)
Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy (L), 28 saves on 33 shots in 56:56 of ice time, .848 save % | Ben Bishop (W), 32 saves on 33 shots in 60 minutes of ice time, .970 save %
Final Thoughts on the Season:
In this rocky campaign for the Bolts, we saw flashes of brilliance as well as some head-shaking moments. While we did see the emergence of rookie Brayden Point, we also saw the decline in Jason Garrison’s game, thus making it a priority for Yzerman to ship him to Vegas.
During the last two months or so of the season, the Lightning put a consistent effort on the ice in hopes of making the playoffs. Although they fell one game short, their play during this time led to increased optimism for the upcoming campaign.
However, with so many veterans traded, there are a few roster spots up for grabs. Could Mitchell Stephens and/or Anthony Cirelli crack the roster on Opening Night? It remains to be seen, but with the emergence of a very talented group of forward prospects very close to breaking through to the NHL, the Lightning are on the road to success in today’s NHL due to their brilliant scouting and drafting.
Looking forward to this season and beyond. A few additions via free agency might be just what this club needs to finally reach the summit and hoist Lord Stanley for the second time in franchise history.