The Stanley Cup has been awarded and the 2016-2017 NHL season has come to a close. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Lightning were not a part of any of the festivities. So, in order to fill the void of no hockey for Lightning fans, Raw Charge is breaking down the past season team by team to see who helped and who hurt the season.
October 27, 2016: Montreal 3 Tampa Bay 1
Preview by @tanyarezak, The battle at the top of the Atlantic
“With Price back and likely to start for the Bolts, the big question is: will the Bolts repeat their absolute stinker of a series from last year, in which they lost every single one of the games they played against Montreal? The Cup Final hangover is gone, Steven Stamkos is smiling again, the Bolts are averaging 3.83 goals per game in the past six, and with any luck the Habs' much-vaunted defense has tired legs. Price, on the other hand, has only give up five goals in 82 shots faced so far this season...”
Recap by @GeoFitz4, Bishop’s Great Adventure ends in a 3-1 loss; Kucherov leaves game
“The Lightning got off to a bit of a slow start in the first period but looked much stronger in the second. They closed the gap in shots on goal in the second and picked up a goal Alex Killorn, his sixth of the year. However, in the third period, Montreal came back with a power play goal and then a screened shot goal. Despite surging in the third period, the Lightning just couldn’t solve a rested Price and ended up falling 3-1 in the end.”
December 28, 2016: Tampa Bay 4 Montreal 3 (OT)
Preview by @iActium, The Break is Over, Time to Hunker Down
“After finally stringing together consecutive wins for the first time since the middle of November and building some confidence, the Washington Capitals played the role of the Grinch and blew the Lightning out 4-0 to send them into the Christmas break feeling a bit down and battered. It’s been a lot of treading water since that 4-game winning streak a month ago, but looking at the injuries the Lightning have accumulated it’s hard to ask for much more. Stamkos, Bishop, Palat, Kucherov, and Callahan have all missed extended time, and the team’s defensive play has been very inconsistent.”
Recap by @loserpoints, The Lightning come back to beat the Canadiens in overtime 4-3
“For a team that has struggled as much as the Lightning relative to expectations, a win like this over the division leader is big. While we should be careful about putting too much stock in one December win, I’m sure the team will be feeling good about the comeback and looking to build on some of the positives from their effort tonight. The Lightning lead on the shot clock for most of the game and eventually came back to take the lead on the scoreboard. Being rewarded for good play has to be a great feeling for the team and hopefully, they can continue to play well into the holiday weekend.”
April 1, 2017: Montreal 2 Tampa Bay 1 (OT)
Preview by @iActium, Continuing the playoff push
“The page has turned to the last month of the 2016-2017 season and what better way to kick it off than to see the division-leading Montreal Canadiens come to town for another pivotal game against the Lightning (every game is pivotal, yes, but this is Montreal and they swept the Lightning in last season’s regular season series). This is will be the first time Tampa Bay and Montreal have played since Claude Julien became the new head coach; the last time Tampa and Montreal played was on December 28 with Tampa Bay securing a 4-3 win in overtime after coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period.”
Recap by Clark J Brooks, Gap widens as Lightning lose to Montreal in overtime
“Picking up a single point in overtime obviously isn’t the worst possible outcome from tonight’s game against the division leaders. But when the team you’re chasing continues to gather two at a time as remaining games on the regular season schedule dwindle to a small handful, it’s far from ideal.”
April 7, 2017: Tampa Bay 4 Montreal 2
Preview by @GeoFitz4, Can the Bolts still clinch?
“So we’ve established that the Lightning have to win in regulation or overtime and that the Canadiens have nothing to play for. The big question will be whether or not Carey Price is in net tonight. The Habs may choose to sit him and give him some rest with a back-to-back. They’ll finish their regular season tomorrow against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit. The Canadiens have three goalies on the roster right now and could conceivably not even dress Price, instead choosing to go with Al Montoya and Charlie Lindgren.” Note: Price started this game.
Recap by @tanyarezak, Stayin’ alive
“Gourde’s two goals were of this dangerous, skilled variety. Whenever the season has been on the line, Gourde has been clutch -- especially in March, where he had several game-winning goals. Having him open scoring tonight made my heart ease (and let me set down the beer mug for a little while). There was such a long stretch where nobody scored at all (see these bleak team reports), that I’m sure seeing a player with fewer than 20 NHL games played knock back goals every game has been inspiring to everyone else.”
Goals: Yanni Gourde (3), Tyler Johnson (2), Alex Killorn (2), Victor Hedman (1), Nikita Kucherov (1), Ondrej Palat (1)
Assists: Victor Hedman (3), Nikita Kucherov (3), Cory Conacher (2), Ondrej Palat (2), Brayden Point (2), Jake Dotchin (1), Jonathan Drouin (1), Jason Garrison (1), Anton Stralman (1), Luke Witkowski (1), Andrei Vasilevskiy (1)
Andrei Vasilevskiy: .919 SV % (7 goals allowed on 87 shots)
Ben Bishop: .884 SV % (3 goals allowed on 26 shots)
View from the other bench:
Jared Book from Habs Eyes on the Prize volunteered to share his thoughts on the season series between these two division rivals.
Usually season series with the Lightning lead to some sort of a playoff preview, and I guess this year’s did too… but only in the American Hockey League. The only thing I actually remember from the season series is that I went into it not knowing who Yanni Gourde was, and now I do know who he was.
Gourde getting three goals in two games under a week apart would do that.
The last game of the season between the two teams is notable for a few reasons. One, Dwight King actually scored a goal. Second, Nikita Nesterov got an assist against his former team. You guys must have loved that.
The season series with the Lightning came in stages. The first during the Habs annual October winning streak, the second during their annual December “Oh no, here we go again” streak, the third as the team was clinching the division and the fourth coming as the team was looking towards the playoffs with only two games remaining.
These two teams have had more memorable season series and I’m sure next year will be better but it won’t be the same without that Bishop guy…
On January 26, 2017 the Tampa Bay Lightning traded defensemen Nikita Nesterov to the Montreal Canadiens for Jonathan Racine and a 2017 6th-round pick.
This trade was rather surprising in the sense that it kind of just happened. There wasn’t much talk about a trade occurring between Tampa and Montreal at that time, but suddenly a tweet went out about the trade and boom it was official.
This trade was kind of a moot one in the end. Nesterov was in and out of the lineup for Montreal and Racine didn’t do much for Syracuse during their run to the Calder Cup Final.
We’ll see what Steve Yzerman can do with the pick he acquired at the upcoming draft.
And just yesterday Montreal pulled another big off-season trade. This time with Tampa Bay. Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 6th-round pick was sent to Montreal while Tampa received Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2nd-round pick. More details are here.
The Yzerplan continues. In some strange ways.
Did Montreal Hurt or Help the Lightning this season?
Earning five out of a possible eight points is a positive when looking at the season series against Montreal. The Lightning went 2-1-1 against the Canadiens, with the most damaging loss coming in the first month of the season. Tampa Bay earned points in every game against Montreal afterwards.
Whenever the Lightning needed a win or points in some manner (whether to break a losing streak or to maintain a points pace) the Canadiens happened to be next on the schedule. It was nice to see Tampa Bay beat Montreal this season since the prior season was a one sided affair (Montreal was bad in 2015-2016; however, they swept the Lightning during the season series), but earning a “tie” (head-to-head wise) against the Habs leaves an odd taste in my mouth.
Of course, Montreal got the last laugh when they not only qualified for the playoffs but won the division while Tampa Bay sat on the sidelines pondering what-if scenarios pertaining to games the team shouldn’t have lost (going 1-5 against Arizona, Colorado, and Vancouver still grates me).
Unfortunately, I would say Montreal did neither categories for Tampa Bay this season. Both teams earned five points against the other, but the points Tampa earned were mostly “staying alive” points. The only way Montreal could have “helped” Tampa was if they simply laid down and let the Lightning sweep the seasons series. Sure there were bright spots in the season series: Johnson’s OT winner to complete the December comeback (a miserable month for Tampa Bay) and the rise of Yanni Gourde’s clutch goal scoring (which was also very apparent in Syracuse). However, this season series is best summed up as a tie rather than either team winning the head-to-head.