It’s the dog days of summer, so what better time than to reflect on last season... even though it feels months and months ago? I enlisted the help of the writers for Raw Charge and compiled our favorite memories of this past season, whether on or off the ice. Enjoy! What were your favorite moments?
In no particular order...
The Stamkos-Drouin give and go
The date? Oct. 23. The game? Against the Winnipeg Jets.
There are those goals where you may not remember everything that happened before or after. All you remember is how that moment felt. I remember jumping off the couch because it was one of the prettiest plays I'd ever seen (I rarely react with a jump off the couch, so I won’t soon forget it). The play spoke of the potential that there could be between Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Drouin. With the ink dried on Stamkos’ eight-year contract, and Drouin proving he could play, and stay, with the Lightning, I’m hopeful for more of those magical moments. — waffleboardsave
Slater Koekkoek’s development
Slater Koekkoek's rise through the ranks this past season is the perfect example of a proper development path, and it was great to see. He spent the better part of two seasons anchored with a complementary defensive partner in the AHL, honing his abilities and setting an example for the other younger guys who were coming through.
Then once the NHL came calling, he was able to go up and impress so much that he's pretty much always in the mix for a spot out of training camp in the fall. Though nothing is guaranteed, and obviously Koekkoek had a hefty dose of natural talent that could be smoothed out fairly quickly, it was fun to watch his rise, and it will continue to be a great experience to see him fulfill his dreams. — Allokago
The Lightning PR
My wife is a kindergarten teacher. Last year the Lightning youth hockey PR people came to the school where she teaches. All the kids got to play hockey. Most of them were probably playing for the first time because it's a Title 1 school in a tough neighborhood. Each year, the school chooses a theme for how to decorate their boards, etc. Last year, it was superheroes. This year, it's sports. And the kindergarten's theme is going to be hockey. So because of the community engagement that the Lightning do, a Title 1 school in Bradenton, Florida, is going to have a hockey-themed kindergarten building. If anyone is wondering how you grow hockey in non-traditional markets, that's how. — loserpoints
Garrison makes history
On Oct. 8 against the Flyers, Jason Garrison scored the first overtime goal in the first overtime game of the NHL season. This was the first time we saw the new 3-on-3 overtime format and Twitter blew up with everyone switching over to the game. Overtime went exactly as expected with end-to-end rushes and complete chaos until one of the most unlikely goal scorers ended it and won for the Bolts. — loserpoints
Ringing in the New Year
This moment really seemed to be the turning point since they were still out of playoff contention at the time. Andrei Vasilevskiy got called up from the AHL and stood tall for first shootout win against the Wild on Jan. 2. More good news? His wife had given birth two days prior.
The crazy comeback game against Pittsburgh in January ended 5-4 in overtime, but the moment I remember most is Anton Stralman's spin-o-rama from the right faceoff circle. Who knew the defender who built a career on perfect positioning and anticipation could score an obscenely skilled goal like that? — loserpoints
New franchise record
From the middle of February to early March, the Bolts went on a nine-game winning streak and set a team record of consecutive wins. Maybe my favorite part of that stretch was Vladdy Namestnikov centering Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. That line was dominant during that winning streak and seeing Vladdy thrive in that role was really cool. It showed he has the talent to perform at that level. And now he’s got a sparkling new contract. — loserpoints
Bishop’s Vezina-worthy season
With a 2-0 shutout on March 19 against the Coyotes, Ben Bishop surpassed the Bulin Wall, Nikolai Khabibulin, for the most shutouts in Lightning franchise history. Bishop had one more shutout before the season ended, bringing his season total to 16. He came in second behind Brayden Holtby for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender. — loserpoints
Seeing the Lightning on the road
There’s nothing more fun and slightly panic-inducing than watching a game on the road. The end result of the game on April 4 at Barclays Center was forgettable as the Lightning lost to the Islanders, 5-2. But it was memorable because I got to sit about a dozen rows up from the Lightning bench to watch the game, which was prime seating... to hear Islanders fans rail Brian Boyle throughout the entire game. I’m not advocating for booing Boyle at any time but these fans were actually humorous and ridiculous. They threw grade-school insults without any profanities and multiple times actually laughed at themselves too. Since Boyle is a former Ranger, this was not a surprise. Too bad the Lightning couldn’t shut them up by winning. Despite that, it was great to see a handful of Lightning fans around. — waffleboardsave
Drouin’s happy ending
Jonathan Drouin returning to the team, lighting it up in Syracuse, and then scoring something like 10 points in his first 10 games back in Tampa was awesome. Regardless of what happened earlier in the season, seeing him focused and achieving his potential was really fun and hopefully, he can build on that heading into next year.