Welcome to the first edition of Lightning Grades. This is an extra gameday coverage piece that we are implementing for the remainder of the season. The premise of this is to engage with you, the fans, and see if our mindsets line up after each game. This isn’t meant to be a forum where we trash players. We’ll be honest but fair in our evaluations. Keep an eye out for the Raw Charge twitter account after the game for the poll you can vote in!
5-on-5 - Great
The first period was even in terms of possession, but good golly did Tampa Bay make Dallas regret every mistake they made in their own zone. The Lightning scored four of their six goals at even strength and they made the Stars look foolish every time. Sergachev’s goal showcased great board play from Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Tyler Johnson’s goal was 100% Steven Stamkos gliding through four Dallas defenders before feeding a pass to Johnson. Kucherov’s goal showcased how quickly Tampa Bay could capitalize on a fortuitous bounce. Alex Killorn’s goal was also a fortuitous bounce, but displayed how dominant the Lightning can be when they’re flying around the offensive zone. The possession numbers aren’t pretty from this evening, but when you’re up by four or more goals for over 70% of the game score effects are bound to take over.
Power-Play - Good
Going two for five is always a good thing. It’s even better Steven Stamkos was the goal scorer both times. Even when the Lightning didn’t score with the man advantage, they still controlled the puck and cycled it around with ease. Dallas’ penalty kill did little to impede Tampa Bay’s passing.
Penalty Kill - Great
Two times Tampa Bay was shorthanded and they killed both of them with little struggle. Dallas did set up a few times in the offensive zone and put some shots on Andrei Vasilevskiy, but overall there was little worry for this unit tonight.
Vote for your RawCharge 1.21 Gigawatts player of the game for @mattestevesSBN and his game grades tomorrow morning.— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) February 15, 2019
The fan vote decided it was Nikita Kucherov who was Raw Charge’s 1.21 Gigawatts Player of the Game with 48% of the vote. Andrei Vasilevskiy came in second with 32% of the vote.
Note: The grading scale for the “Bolts” goes as follows
Five Bolts = Best player(s) on the team this evening
Four Bolts = Exemplary performance
Three Bolts = Standard performance
Two Bolts = Subpar performance
One Bolt = Negligible performance
Nikita Kucherov - 17:45 TOI, four shots, one goal, three assists
I’m in total agreement with the fans on this one. Kucherov was the best player on the ice the evening and it wasn’t really close. His passing was as crisp as ever once the Lightning got into their groove on Stamkos’ first goal of the night. The saucer pass to set up Sergachev’s goal was (kisses fingers) le magnifique. His goal was a laser that poor Landon Bow had no chance on. When Kucherov retires this will be one of the games shown as an example of what a vintage Kucherov performance is.
Most four-point games through first 58 team games, since 1994-95:@86Kucherov: 2018-19 (6)— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 15, 2019
Iya Kovalchuk: 2005-06 (6)
Mario Lemieux: 1995-96 (13) & 1996-97 (6)
Jaromir Jagr: 1995-96 (7)
Peter Forsberg: 1995-96 (6)
Adam Oates: 1995-96 (6)#NHLStats #DALvsTBL pic.twitter.com/F2L0bQ9jY6
Steven Stamkos - 15:22 TOI, six shots, two goals, one assist
The Captain was fantastic this evening. His first goal wasn’t from his office per se, but he adjusted to give Ondrej Palat a passing lane and he took advantage of it. His assist on Tyler Johnson’s goal was hilarious as he quite literally glided between four Dallas defenders before pushing the puck toward Johnson. His second goal though, oh boy, that was a beauty. He dangled Andrew Cogliano so bad near the blueline that Cogliano lost his balance and went crashing into the boards. Then Stamkos sniped one past Khudobin to wrap up the scoring for the night. Stamkos is now three goals away from tying Vincent Lecavalier’s franchise record for goals in a career (383). He’s going to match and pass that in a week at this rate.
Andrei Vasilevskiy - 32 saves, 1.00 Save Percentage, 1 Shutout
The Big Cat had one of the quietest shutouts of his career. Everyone’s attention was so focused on Kucherov’s big night and Stamkos’ march toward franchise history that Vasilevskiy kind of fell to the wayside a bit. Make no mistake, Vasilevskiy was great this evening. Dallas had plenty of great chances in this game that he simply shut the door on. Think of Tyler Seguin’s wrap around, Mattias Janmark’s breakaway, and the in-close chances Dallas generated after their point shots got through.
Alex Killorn - 17:06 TOI, 4 shots, one goal, one assist
Killorn one of his best overall games this evening. He negated several transitions in the neutral zone, was active in the defensive zone, and produced offensively. Though, admittedly his goal was a bit of a fluke give that it wasn’t going into the net until Anton Khudobin deflected it in, but you take goals however you can get them. Give Killorn some love for his effort tonight.
Mikhail Sergachev - 17:11 TOI, one shot, one goal
Sergachev hasn’t had the same success offensively as he did last season, but he has not been bad this season. Defensively, he’s vastly improved compared to last season and it shows in how his ice time has risen as the season has progressed. Tonight, Sergachev was as good as he’s ever been. His pinches were great as were his reads in all three zones. His gap control is more consistent than it was at this point last season. Add in his sizzling snipe to make it 2-0 and you just hope he gets hot and starts scoring more goals.
J.T. Miller - 16:23 TOI, one shot, two hits
Miller didn’t get on the scoresheet, but anytime the third line was on the ice Miller made sure his presence was known. With Killorn doing his time on the left side, Miller caused all kinds of problems for Dallas on the right and below the goal line. Miller has a unique skillset compared to the other Lighting forwards. He’s a bit of a bruiser yet also has the finesse to dance around defenders on a whim. His play below the goal line and along the boards this evening was great. He cycled it well, generated chances for his linemates and showcased yet again why Tampa Bay traded for him.
Victor Hedman - 23:51 TOI, three shots, one blocked shot
Remember early in the season when Hedman wasn’t really Hedman? Yea, that’s been gone for a while now. Hedman didn’t appear on the scoresheet, but the Big Swede was as impactful as ever tonight. A minute-eating madman who no forward wants to go up against. Hedman was Hedman in all three zones tonight and that isn’t good for any opponent moving forward.
Brayden Point - 18:29 TOI, two assists, 40% in the faceoff circle
A quiet two point night for Point, but it’s the little things he does that puts him here. His board play on the Sergachev goal was the starting point. His forecheck throughout the game gave Dallas fits. Whenever Dallas had a surge, Cooper sent out Point to rectify the situation and he did just that by forcing play back into the Stars end. Kucherov gets the headlines on that line, but Point is the straw that stirs the drink.
Ondrej Palat - 13:11 TOI, two assists
Palat wasn’t bad this evening. He made a great pass to set up Stamkos’ first goal. His second assist was an afterthought though, since he fed the puck to Stamkos near the defensive blue line before the Captain set up Johnson’s goal. Palat was just solid. Didn’t make mistakes and worked the boards to push the puck to Stamkos and Johnson.
Adam Erne - 11:50 TOI, six hits, a tussle with Jamie Benn
Metrically, Erne was one of the worst players for the Lightning tonight, but that doesn’t really tell the story (metrically, score effects threw this game off real quick after Tampa Bay went up 4-0). Erne was, however, a wrecking ball on the ice. Why waste assets to trade for a Wayne Simmonds when you have an Adam Erne already on the roster trucking people and starting semi-fight/hug fests against Jamie Benn? The first Stamkos power-play goal? You can thank Adam Erne for bowling a Stars defender down that led to him drawing a tripping penalty shortly thereafter. He wasn’t much of a threat offensively tonight, but Erne’s physicality was noticeable by everyone tonight.
Anton Stralman - 20:08 TOI, three shots, one assist
His assist was a bit flukey, but Stralman was vintage Stralman this evening. Smart reads, great gap control, smart passes, and a steadying presence on the blueline. Stralman would be higher on the list, but four and five bolts are reserved for exemplary play and beyond. Stralman was simply good this evening.
Ryan McDonagh - 17:39 TOI, five blocked shots
Nothing flashy from McDonagh this evening. Just solid play all around for the former Ranger. The best thing McDonagh did this evening was keeping the puck alive in the offensive zone. Anytime Dallas tried to rim it along the boards and out of their zone, there was McDonagh sitting at the blueline waiting for it. McDonagh’s pinches in the offensive zone were also good this evening.
Anthony Cirelli - 15:10 TOI, one shot, one assist, 73% in the faceoff circle
A quiet night for Cirelli. He was still a forechecking maniac, but it just wasn’t his night offensively. He was Tampa Bay’s best face-off man, going 8-3 in the circle and being the only Lightning player with multiple face-offs to be over 50%.
Tyler Johnson - 13:09 TOI, one shot, one goal
Johnson’s goal was good to see. He was buzzing around the offensive zone this evening, but aside from a few nifty plays to keep the puck alive he was just solid this evening.
Yanni Gourde - 15:14 TOI, one shot, one blocked shot
Gourde was regular Gourde this evening. Nothing special from him, just his standard forechecking self. This isn’t to say he was bad tonight—he was just solid. Like most of the depth players were tonight.
Braydon Coburn - 16:44 TOI
Coburn was as steady as ever tonight. He’s not flashy, but he plays a strong defensive game and made some smart outlet passes to exit the defensive zone this evening. Standard Coburn, folks.
Dan Girardi - 18:16 TOI, one shot
When Girardi isn’t noticeable that’s a good thing. The only time we want to notice Girardi is when he gets a goal. Now, if there was one thing I really like about Girardi tonight, it’s that his passes out of the defensive zone were pretty good tonight.
Mathieu Joseph - 13:00 TOI
The only thing that really stood out about Joseph was his nifty deke in the offensive zone that led to a scoring chance. Aside from that he didn’t really stand out. He’s noticeable due to his speed and relentless forecheck, but this was a quiet night for Joseph.
Cedric Paquette - 15:32 TOI, seven hits
Paquette was Paquette tonight. Throwing the body, being a pest, and grinding teams down. Nothing noteworthy from him tonight though. Which is a little odd given that he usually lays a hit that garners the ire of the opposition.
Highlight of the Night
When I’m on my deathbed I want this GIF to be played on loop until my heart gives out.
Overall Feel of the Game
Tampa Bay dismantled Dallas tonight. The game was effectively over after Kucherov made it 4-0 in the first period. Dallas never recovered and Tampa Bay added two extra layers of insurance in the second period to really emphasize their performance tonight. Next up is Montreal on Saturday. Be ready for a close game, the Canadiens are one of the best possession teams in the league and the last time they came to town it was a back and forth affair that the Lightning managed to come out on top with some late game heroics from Adam Erne.