2016-2017 Season Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Minnesota Wild

The Tampa Bay Lightning took one of two games against Minnesota although they played well enough to grab both. We break it down.


Minnesota Wild


February 10th, 2017: Minnesota 2 Tampa Bay 1 (SO)

Preview by @iActium, The wilderness awaits

“The Wild are basically the western version of the Washington Capitals, just slicing through the league like a knife through butter. Minnesota has shown the ability to score with 179 goals (4th), and the ability to stifle opposing offenses by allowing 125 goals (2nd). Their power play and penalty kill are both effective at 20.3% (13th) and 82.1% (12th) respectively.

“Where it gets a little hazy is their possession game. The Wild’s Corsi For % is 24th  in the league at 48.36%. That is basement dwelling, so how are the Wild  the best team in the Western Conference? Two things: goaltending and  shooting percentages. Devan Dubnyk leads the league in wins (29) and is 2nd in SV% at .933.”

Recap by @loserpoints, With Johnson out of the lineup, the Lightning lose 2-1 to the Wild in a shootout

“A point is a good outcome against the Wild, who have been  one of the best teams in the league all year. Even knowing that,  accepting one point in a game that the Bolts controlled from start to  finish is difficult. Especially when they so desperately need every  point they can get.

“If they can win Saturday in Winnipeg, that would give  them 7 out of 8 points in the last four games heading into the bye week.  Anything less will likely be disappointing given the way the team  played Friday.”

March 9th, 2017 Tampa Bay 4 Minnesota 1

Preview by @iActium, The race tightens

“The Wild boast the 4th best offense and defense in the league, scoring 213 goals and allowing 151. In addition, they also have the 6th best power-play at 22%, and the 7th  best penalty kill at 84.8%. This team just doesn’t do anything poorly  -- except for maybe their possession game, which is still in the bottom  half of the league. The Wild have a Corsi For % of 48.6% (22nd), but that hasn’t slowed them down one bit....

“The Lightning have had their backs against the wall before and have  always managed to fight back, and it’s still possible they can pull off a  playoff berth. But they must play better to position themselves better.  The next week and a half will really determine if the Lightning are  either going to battle till game 82, or be an afterthought before game 75.”

Recap by @Bethelhub, Lightning lose centers to lower body injuries, win 4-1 against Wild

“This was a night that had lots of positives and lots of negatives.  Although this was some of the most consistent, well put together hockey  the Tampa Bay Lightning have played within the last few months, the  Bolts also lost Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette, and Vladislav Namestnikov to lower-body injuries. And that plain sucked.”

Boxscore (both games):

Goals: Nikita Kucherov (2), Victor Hedman (1), Andrej Sustr (1), Brayden Point (1)

Assists: Jake Dotchin (1), Jonathan Drouin , Yanni Gourde (1), Victor Hedman (1), Nikita Kucherov (1), Ondrej Palat (1), Tyler Johnson (1), Jason Garrison (1), Alex Killorn (1)

Save Percentage:

Feb 10th, Andre Vasilevskiy - .970 SV% (1 goal on 38 shots)

March 9th, Andrej Vasilevskiy - .970 SV% (1 goal on 33 shots)



Did Minnesota Hurt or Help the Lightning this season?

Considering the Bolts registered three out of four points available, their time with the Wild was an initial success, but that last point left a little to be desired because the Bolts were in desperation mode trying to make the playoffs. If anything, I think these two games gave the Bolts confidence because they played well against a dominant Western conference team, but such things seemed to have not stuck in the rest of the season.

The two games provide an interesting comparison. Both were dominant in the offensive zone but one had a drastically different outcome. When looking at both nights, the Bolts played a well-put-together, all-around performance against the Wild but came up a point short. The Lightning got a plethora of shots on net in the loss but never produced any really dangerous chances, which is not quite ideal when playing against Devon Dubnyk. A quote from @loserpoints reads:

“The Lightning controlled play, ending the (third) period leading 56-37 in shots.  They didn’t generate many dangerous chances and never really threatened  to score but they did keep the puck in the Minnesota zone and forced Dubnyk to make saves. They also prevented Minnesota from building much  of an attack for the majority of the period.”

Mikko Koivu eventually ended that game in the shootout. A few takeaways from this: even when seemingly doing all the right things, the Bolts still did not grab the win. I had hoped that Tampa took some lessons from this game at the time and applied them throughout the rest of the season. Like, you know, finish games. But that wasn’t exactly the case.

More troubling is that perhaps because Tyler Johnson was was unable to play due to a injury and a few other players had just returned from injury, the Bolts had trouble scoring. For a team that had outstanding offensive success in the last few years, this series foreshadowed an eventual lackadaisical offense that coaching never addressed. There was “writing on the wall” about our offensive output. And yes, the injury bug played a role, but there are issues down the road Stevie Y will have to address if we want success going forward.

And naturally the other game, a 4-1 victory, looks a lot better on paper. With goals from Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and what, Andrej Sustr?!


And a classic Sustr goal...