Raw Charge is breaking down the Tampa Bay Lightning’s past season, team by team, to see who helped and who hurt our playoff chances.
View from the other bench:
A thank you to Silver Seven’s Managing Editor @Sheer_Rossyness for his contribution!
“I generally expect Sens-Bolts games to be difficult for Ottawa. I didn't know for sure, but I expected that looking back on the games Ottawa would've lost the majority. As it turns out, I was right. Tampa won 3 of the 4 games, and only one was particularly close. The lone exception was a 5-2 Sens win in early February, one that didn't stand out in my memory at all, likely because a 5-1 loss at the end of the month wiped it out.
“What does stick out from that Feb 27th game is the Nikita Kucherov second period power play natural hat trick. He scored all three goals from almost exactly the same spot on the ice with the same shot. It made you wonder why, after the second goal, the Sens didn't follow the Alex Ovechkin defensive strategy and just play a 4-on-3 with somebody always covering Kucherov.
“It just felt so right - Ottawa was having a good season, Tampa was having an awful one, and yet the Lightning were blowing out the Sens. It started my skepticism about the Sens actually making the playoffs. I've often looked at the Lightning as the team most likely to stick around as the class of the East (a younger core than Pittsburgh or Washington), and I get frustrated every time I watch Ottawa unable to hang with them.
“It seems the Lightning always find another gear against the Sens. Kucherov is unstoppable. Hedman looks like the best defenceman in the world (rather than just the second-best I would normally call him). Bishop used to get that ex-Senator boost. (If you think that isn't a thing, just remember Joe Corvo had a hat-trick against Ottawa.)
“And now that Bishop's gone, well hey, Andrei Vasilevskiy is around to hold down the fort. Overall, I expect Ottawa to lose to Tampa Bay, and they did repeatedly this year. At least it means that next year, Sens-Bolts games won't be able to disappoint me.”
Did the Senators help or hurt the Lightning this season?
Grabbing three wins against eventual Eastern Conference championship attendees? Yea, I guess we could call Ottawa that...or maybe Eastern Conference Title Runner-ups? Either way, the Bolts played well against them for the majority of the season.
On multiple occasions, Tampa had to play them on back-to-backs, road games, and what have you, and for the most part came out on top. But most importantly, Ottawa was the team the Lightning played after we traded Bishop. This was a monumental shift in the franchise’s course as the Bolts began to place their faith in the youth of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
After trading Bishop, Nikita Kucherov scored three goals in the second period and Vasy played absolutely lights out in net. It was a reassurance to the team, front office, and the fanbase that, “Hey, we still got it.” And yes, our season never reached the lofty expectations that were set out from the beginning, but I have confidence in Kuch and Vasy going forward to continue to keep the franchise at competitive level.
So thank you Ottawa, you helped us realize all is not lost!
October 22, 2016 — Tampa Bay 4, Ottawa 1
Preview by @loserpoints, Lightning at Senators preview: Guy Boucher seeks his revenge
“The Lightning and the Senators each enter Saturday night’s intra-division matchup having won three of their first four games. The Lightning required a shootout in one of their three wins while the Sens have an OT win and a shootout win. Most people expect the Lightning to make a deep playoff run this year but the Sens winning three of their first four is somewhat unexpected given the relatively low expectations for the team.
The most prominent storyline in tonight’s game is the Lightning facing their former head coach, Guy Boucher, who was hired by Ottawa to takeover from Dave Cameron. Boucher began his time in Tampa in the 2010-2011 season leading the team to a surprising Eastern Conference Final appearance. He was not able to sustain that success and missed the playoffs the following year before being fired by General Manager Steve Yzerman in the spring of 2013. After his firing, the Lightning hired current head coach Jon Cooper.”
Recap (from the other side) by @carteciel, Lightning show why they're elite; strike four times to beat Sens 4 - 1
“In his pre-game availability, Guy Boucher tampered expectations for tonight despite the Sens 3 - 1 - 0 start, calling his ex-team one of the favourites to win the Cup. The game sure played out that way, as outside of a stretch during the back half of the second period, the Lightning were strong tonight...
All in all, it just seemed like the Sens couldn’t find a way to generate a consistent attack, measured by pucks directed towards the net. 35 shots against and two powerplay goals against surely didn’t help their cause, although playing the Bolts around even in 5-on-5 scoring chances (17 to 20) is a positive to build off of. The loss ends the team’s three game home winning streak AND Karlsson’s four game point streak, as the Sens will look to rebound on the road as they begin a Western Canada road trip.”
February 2, 2017 — Ottawa 5, Tampa Bay 2
Review by @iActium, Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: The Sens march in
“The Senators are a bit odd this season. Last year they could score often, but couldn’t keep the puck out of their net. Overall this season they haven’t scored a lot, netting 132 goals (20th) and managing a middling power play at 16.9% (22nd). They have, however, improved on the defensive end, allowing only 129 goals (7th) and locking down the penalty kill at 82.8% (10th). Possession-wise, they are an oddity. Their Corsi For % is 47.91% (25th), this is in the same territory as the Avalanche, Sabres, Devils, and Coyotes. At some point, if they don’t reverse this possession trend Ottawa is going to be in trouble.
They’re quite hot right now even with those poor possession numbers. Over their last 10, they sport a 6-2-2 record while potting 40 (yes…40) goals, and allowing 28. During that 10 game stretch, they have shut out Columbus and Washington while defeating Pittsburgh, Edmonton, and Toronto (twice). Their last two games were both one-goal affairs. The Sens are playing really well right now.”
Recap by Clark J Brooks, Sens smother Lightning, 5-2
“The Ottawa Senators beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Thursday night.
“That’s back-to-back disappointing losses for us. There isn’t any panic in our room, but it’s time to bear down and start picking up points every night again.” - Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Wideman, after Tuesday’s loss to the Florida Panthers
That was the mindset of the Senators, a team almost certainly destined for the postseason at this point. They held onto this thought coming into tonight’s game against the Lightning, a team trying to find their bearings after the All-Star break, bearings they struggled to find at all during the first half of the season. As such, the Lightning are watching their postseason hopes fade as the regular season dwindles to the final 30 games.”
February 27, 2017 — Tampa Bay 5, Ottawa 1
Review by @iActium, Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning Preview: The Vasilevskiy era begins
“After three days off and a surprising trade, the Lightning are back in action tonight against the Ottawa Senators. This game officially ushers in the “Andrei Vasilevskiy era,” who starts for the Bolts because general manager Steve Yzerman traded former starting goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles Sunday evening. I won’t go into detail about the trade; here at Raw Charge we have already put out several articles on the topic.
Ottawa comes into this game with the 18th best offense with 160 goals, and the 6th best defense, allowing only 157 goals. Their power-play currently sits in the bottom 10 teams of the league at 17.2% (22nd), but their penalty kill is still a top ten unit at 83.4% (8th). The Senators’ possession games has slightly improved from the last time these two teams met; Ottawa’s Corsi For % is at 48.36% (24th) for the season, however, in the month of February the Senators have managed a CF% of 50.11%.”
Recap by @torchramrod, Nikita Kucherov powers Lightning to 5-1 win over Senators
“From the moment Ben Bishop was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, Andrei Vasilevskiy was going to be in the spotlight the moment the puck dropped on Monday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators. His fellow Russian, Nikita Kucherov, took that spotlight and one-timed it into the net as the Lightning beat the Ottawa Senators, 5-1, at Amalie Arena.
Kucherov kept his recent hot streak going as he had a four-point night against the Senators that included a natural hat trick in the second period. All three of his goals came on the power play as the Lightning used their special teams to take down the Senators and pick up two points in the standings.
With Peter Budaj on the bench wearing number 31 and sporting a glorious mountain-man beard looking on instead of his good friend and hugging buddy Ben Bishop, Vasilevskiy made 39 saves in the win, ending a five-game personal losing streak.
The only other lineup change was Adam Erne replacing Brian Boyle on Vlad Namestnikov’s line. Recently signed Greg McKegg and call-up Yanni Gourde were healthy scratches.”
March 14, 2017 — Tampa Bay 2, Ottawa 1 (OT)
Review by @loserpoints, Lightning vs. Senators: Help me, Andrei Vasilveskiy. You’re my only hope.
“The Sens have been the most fortunate team in the league this season. They sit comfortably in the playoffs with a chance to win the division despite being a bottom-ten team in both score adjusted shot share and expected goal share according to corsica.hockey. This isn’t to say the Lightning are a power house. They’re in the middle of the pack league wide. But they’ve been better than Ottawa by just about any measure except wins and losses.
Unfortunately for the Lightning, none of that matters. The Sens are locked into a first round matchup likely against the Bruins or the Rangers. The Bolts will have to continue winning almost every night just to win the booby prize of running into a juggernaut Washington Capitals team in the first round.”
Recap by @iActium, Tampa Bay defeats Ottawa 2-1 in Overtime
“Playing the latter half of a back-to-back against a divisional opponent while on the road is something that has caused Lightning fans a lot of heartache this season. The Lightning have been fighting tooth and nail to claw their way back into the playoff picture after the trade deadline and claw back they have. After a strong performance against the Ottawa Senators the Lightning are now tied with the New York Islanders for the final wild-card spot, though at the moment, the Islanders hold the tiebreaker by virtue of having more ROW wins.”
Goals: Steven Stamkos (1), Valtteri Filppula (1), Vladislav Namestnikov (1), Alex Killorn (1), Tyler Johnson (1), Brayden Point (3), Nikita Kucherov (3), Braydon Coburn (1)
Overtime goals: Victor Hedman (1)
Assists: Brian Boyle (1), Nikita Kucherov (3), Ondrej Palat (3), Anton Stralman (1), Jason Garrison (1), Brayden Point (1), Valtteri Filppula (1), Vladislav Namestnikov (1), Jake Dotchin (1), Braydon Coburn (1), Jonathan Drouin (3), Victor Hedman (2), Tyler Johnson (2)
October 22nd: 27 saves on 28 shots, .964 SV%
February 2nd: 24 saves on 29 shots, .862 SV%
February 27th, 39 saves on 40 shots, .975 SV%
March 14th, 31 saves on 32 shots, .969 SV%