Two teams are battling it out for the Stanley Cup on catfish-laden ice. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning are not one of those two teams. In order to fill the void for Lightning fans, Raw Charge is breaking down the past season team by team to see who helped and who hurt the season.
October 13, 2016 @ Tampa, Tampa 6, Detroit 3
Preview by John Fontana: “Yeah, it has changed In Tampa. Line combos are shifted and Ryan Callahan is not going to play tonight or a while yet as he recovers from hip surgery. Braydon Point starts his full pro rookie season with the Lightning, playing on a third line with the likes of Vladislav Namestnikov and Valtteri Filppula. That’s not a bad tandem to start your career with but third line duties aren’t exactly the top of the expected lamp-ligthters in an NHL game.”
Recap by David Baldwin: “This was a wild one, folks, and it didn’t start off in the best way for the Bolts. Yet, they continued to prove they can remain calm in the face of adversity, which has become their bread and butter with Jon Cooper behind the bench. The result was coming back from an early 2-0 deficit to stun the division rival Wings off the efforts of six different goal scorers.”
November 15, 2016 @ Detroit, Tampa 4, Detroit 3
Preview by waffleboardsave: “The Lightning are right back at it tonight after their dominating, should-have-won 4-0 shutoutover the free-falling Islanders. The Red Wings, meanwhile, are well-rested since Saturday’s game… actually, they’ve been rested even before that game since it didn’t seem like anyone really bothered to show up for that 5-0 loss against the Canadiens.
Last night, the Lightning ended their season series with the Islanders. They won all three games against the Isles this season. They’ve been rolling over the Isles since the second-round playoff series last season, and with the Wings tonight, they’re in a similar position. The Bolts have eliminated the Wings in the last two playoff rounds — and they opened this season with a 6-4 win.”
Recap by Achariya: “When Steven Stamkos headed off the ice favoring his right leg, the answer became apparent. Tampa can play well against mediocre teams, but tired bodies are tired bodies. In the first period, Stamkos injured himself on a fluke move while forechecking, twisting his right leg while getting back up off the ice. He limped off to the bench, and didn’t return.”
December 20, 2016 @ Tampa, Tampa 4, Detroit 1
Preview by Achariya, GeoFitz: “Looking at the forwards, with so many players injured, there just simply is not enough skill throughout that group. The team is being forced to play bottom six players in the top six. The team is being forced to play minor leagues. The team needs to get healthy and at a minimum get Kucherov and Palat back on the ice.”
News: Ben Bishop was injured in this game and would miss the next nine games, forcing Andrei Vasilevskiy to start all nine games as well as finishing this game for Ben Bishop. The injuries just continued to pile up.
March 24, 2017 @ Detroit, Tampa 2, Detroit 1, Overtime
Preview by Achariya: “RC: If you were GM for a day, what would you do to the Tampa Bay Lightning?
Matt: GM for a day? Honestly I’d spend my entire day delving into the day to day workings of what Steve Yzerman does. There isn’t anything major I’d do to the Lightning at this point in time (primarily because nothing can really be done at the moment). So I’d want to know how everything works in the organizational hierarchy.”
Recap by JustinG.: “The Lightning breathed life into their playoff hopes last night by beating Boston; they kept those hopes from being snuffed out by coming back to beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in overtime. Nikita Kucherov scored the game winner in the extra session off a beautiful pass from Brayden Point to stay a point away from the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Due to some injuries suffered in the game at Boston the night before, the Lightning shuffled their line-up a bit. Luke Witkowski moved back to defense and was partnered with Anton Stralman, who moved across the ice to the left side. Greg McKegg traded his pressbox suit for a uniform and played for the first time since March 18th.”
March 30, 2017 @ Tampa, Tampa 5, Detroit 3
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) March 28, 2017
Recap by Clark J. Brooks: “In spite of the absence of unarguably their best player (Nikita Kucherov), with just 17 skaters (11 forwards, six defensemen), they won their fourth straight game and kept pace with the Boston Bruins who currently hold the eighth and final slot in the Eastern Conference with a three-point lead.”
Goals: Jonathan Drouin (3), Nikita Kucherov (3), Brian Boyle (2), Alex Killorn (2), J.T. Brown, Valtteri Filppula, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov, Nikita Nesterov, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Andrej Sustr
Assists: Victor Hedman (5), Tyler Johnson (3), Alex Killorn (3), Ondrej Palat (3), Brayden Point (3), Braydon Coburn (2), Jonathan Drouin (2), Nikita Kucherov (2), Vladislav Namestnikov (2), Gabriel Dumont, Valtteri Filppula, Nikita Nesterov, Cedric Paquette, Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Andrej Sustr
Andrei Vasilevskiy – .943 SV% (82 saves on 87 shots)
Ben Bishop – .891 SV% (57 saves on 64 shots)
The Lightning did not make any trades with the Detroit Red Wings this season. The last time the two tames matched up was in February of 2012. The Red Wings sent defenseman Mike Commodore to Tampa in exchange for conditional 7th round pick. The conditions were not met.
That trade occurred within a week of one of the more important trades that the Lightning have undertaken in the Yzerman era. After trading forward Steve Downie to the Colorado Avalanche for defenseman Kyle Quincey, Yzerman flipped Quincey to the the Red Wings for a 1st round pick and minor leaguer Sebastien Piche. With that first round pick in 2012, the Lightning selected goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Did Detroit help or hurt the Lightning this season?
Helped, in a big way.
The Lightning absolutely destroyed the Detroit Red Wings, winning all five games. It was sweet, sweet revenge in helping to end the Detroit Red Wings’ long string of consecutive playoff appearances. It also felt especially good after the bad blood that had been generated between the two teams in the two previous playoffs. Niklas Kronwall had knocked Nikita Kucherov out of a game 6 with one of his famous “KRONWALLED” hits. Except that he crossed the line, leaving his feet to hit Kucherov in the head earning him a one game suspension in Detroit’s game 7 loss.
The next season, the Lightning dominated the beginning of the Detroit series and had a huge brawl at the end of a game that included Justin Abdelkader taking advantage of Mike Blunden being down on the ice. He repeatedly drew back for large punches against a defenseless Blunden breaking his visor and turning his face into a blood mess. In the next game, Abdelkader taped his hands knowing that he would face retribution for his transgressions. When Brian Boyle challenged him to a fight, he chickened out prompting Boyle to mock him by flapping his arms like a chicken as he headed off the ice. The Lightning got their revenge by finishing out the series against Detroit and winning the last ever playoff game in Joe Louis Arena.
On the other side of the balance though, Steven Stamkos and Ben Bishop were both injured in games against Detroit. Players getting injured seems to be a regular occurrence with Detroit.
You know your franchise is all grown up when they’ve pissed off an original six team enough to call it a rivalry, and the rivalry even continues in the minors, with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Syracuse Crunch meeting in this year’s Calder Cup Final.