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Lightning Round: Victor Hedman is rolling

Since playing in his homeland, Victor Hedman has been racking up the points.

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Victor Hedman is one of the top scorers for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is, however, a little shocking that on a team with Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Alex Killorn, the defenseman is currently second on the team in points with 22. Only Nikita Kucherov has racked up more points through the first twenty-four games of the season. His rise up the scoring table has mostly come since the Lightning visited his homeland.

Hedman has played in 22 games this season. Eleven of them came prior to the Global Series in Stockholm and, including the two games in Sweden, he has played eleven since. In the first 11 games the big Swede recorded a respectable 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists). Since then he’s posted 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists).

Averaging a point a game is pretty impressive for any player, doubly so for a defenseman. His prowess on the power play has been responsible for the bulk of his scoring this season. Nine of the thirteen points he’s scored recently have come with the man advantage. Overall on the season, 12 of his 22 points have come on the power play (54%). That’s way higher than his career rate of 32% of his points coming on the man advantage, but kind of inline with what’s he been doing over the last few seasons where roughly 45% of his points have come when the Lightning have the advantage.

Having elite shooters Steven Stamkos on one side and Nikita Kucherov on the other makes his role as the quarterback of the power play pretty easy. However, it shouldn’t take away from how good he is at distributing the puck.

Here he is setting up Stamkos for one of the captain’s patented one-timers. The puck is flat and right in Stammer’s wheelhouse, granted anything in four foot radius is in his wheelhouse, but the timing is perfect.

Hedman’s head is up the entire way and he moves the puck smoothly. He doesn’t have to settle it, he doesn’t look around or hesitate. He just drifts to his right a little (dragging a defender with him) which open up a little more space for Stamkos and puts the puck on a tee.

Why does the defender come out if Hedman is so good at distributing the puck? It’s because he’s been shooting the puck a lot more over the last few weeks. Since that first game in Sweden he has 31 shots, which is 2.8 shots per game. Before Sweden, he was at 1.27 shots per game. Launching shots is only going to open more space for him to work the puck around.

Can he keep this up? Honestly, he probably can. He’s already cracked 70 points once in his career (2016-17) and he has much of the same supporting cast up front that he had in that season. That season he had 33 power play points (4 goals, 29 assists).

Not only can he do it, the Lightning are going to need him to do it if they want to start moving up in the standings.

Lightning Links:

Slow starts are not great for the Lightning. [Raw Charge]

Victor Hedman talks about playing in Sweden [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Lower body injuries sideline two Lightning veterans [Tampa Bay Times]

The Crunch went to overtime and won on a fluky goal []

Hockey Links:

Nobody throws more bears on the ice than Hershey Bears fans [Bardown]

Are their any healthy Penguins left in Pittsburgh? [Pensburgh]

Alex Ovechkin isn’t getting older, he’s getting better [Russian Machine Never Breaks]

Today’s Birthdays:

If it’s your birthday today, happy birthday! You share it with a member of hockey’s first family - The Sutters. Rich Sutter (and his brother Ron) were born on December 2nd, 1963. He played four games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1994-95 season. In February of 1995 he was traded to Tampa from Chicao with Paul Ysebaert for Jim Cummins, Tom Tilley, and Jeff Buchanen.

Less than a month later the Lightning moved him to Toronto in exchange for cash considerations. During his brief sojourn with the Bolts he recorded exactly zero points.