The 2018-2019 Tampa Bay Lightning are ridiculous and despite not playing their best these past ten games or so (more about that below), they are just one victory away from matching a historic high-water mark set by the Detroit Red Wings of 1995-1996, of 62 games. The last game of the season will be in Boston on Saturday, and while I hope for a record-matching victory, I also simply hope that everyone gets out of there with no injuries at all going into playoffs.
But before we count any chickens, it’s time to pause and celebrate.
First, Nikita Kucherov joined the team’s small 40-goal-scorer club. Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point say howdy.
That’s No. 40 for Nikita Kucherov, an empty netter. That gives #TBLightning three 40-goal scorers (Point, Stamkos). First time since 1995-96 a team had three— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) April 5, 2019
Second, how about that Andrei Vasilevskiy guy leading the league in wins?
Andrei Vaseilevskiy is guaranteed to finish the regular season as the NHL's wins leader after picking up victory No. 39 tonight. Vasy tied Connor Hellebuyck for the League lead for wins (44) last season. #Bolts #TBLvsTOR— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) April 5, 2019
Third, GeoFitz noted with some amusement that Kucherov and the team are pacing each other in points with 126. Who ends up with more points on the season?
Who ends up with more points this season?
This poll is closed
Tampa Bay Lightning
They’ll be dead even
This has been the best regular season I’ve ever watched in my sports life, and it’s been amazing fun watching the Lightning destroy record after record. Give yourselves a huge pat on the back for being savvy enough to be fans of an amazing franchise, and let’s take a deep breath and settle in for the playoffs.
On to the news!
Loserpoints wrote the tale of the game: Nikita Kucherov claims another record as the Lightning beat the Leafs 3-1 [Raw Charge]
Nikita Kucherov scored his 126th point of the season passing Joe Thornton in 2005-2006 for the salary cap era record. The point was also his 40th goal of the season making the Lightning the first team to have three 40 goal scorers since the 1995-1996 Pittsburgh Penguins. And the win was the 61st of the season giving the Bolts the second most wins in an NHL season and keeping alive their chance to tie the record on Saturday in Boston.
The excellent Katya Knappe at Pension Plan Puppets wrote the Leafs-eye view of the game. Tampa takes a close and fast game 3-1 over the Leafs [PPP]
Play the Habs twice as hard on Saturday. That’s all I want.
Our pal Eugene dug into who the Lightning might want to face in the first round of playoffs, and I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. [THW]
Of all their potential first-round match-ups, the Lightning would likely prefer to see the Hurricanes. This isn’t a knock against Carolina in any way, as they are a dangerous team that has earned the right to be in the playoff discussion. However, as a whole, playoff hockey would be a new experience for them.
Loserpoints also wrote up our very last ten-game report of this fine season before we head off into the small-sample-size hell that is playoffs. [Raw Charge]
While the defense has been the primary issue, the offense hasn’t been great. They’re down in terms of expected goal generation from both their season totals and the previous ten games. They’ve been relying heavily on shooting talent to score goals, which is also the case on the power play.
I think the point of this article is to give hope to teams that think they have a chance against the Lightning this post-season: The flaws that can haunt each team in the post-season. [THN]
But when the post-season rolled around, Detroit showed some cracks against a top adversary in the Avalanche, and despite what you might be thinking, it wasn’t exactly that Patrick Roy, who posted a .905 save percentage across the six-game set, stole the series for Colorado. Instead, it was the limiting of the top-six scorers that turned the tide.
Needless to say, Cernak has been quite happy to partner up with a player of McDonagh’s caliber.
“If you’re a rookie and you get a ‘D’ partner like Ryan, it’s amazing,” Cernak said. “He’s a big leader, a really good player and he sees the game really well. I’m trying to learn a lot of things from him and I’m enjoying the ride.”
Kicking off the playoffs with Cage the Elephant: Cage the Elephant will play a free concert at Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park next week [CLTampa.com]
Cage the Elephant already has an August concert scheduled in Tampa (Beck, Spoon and Sunflower Bean are also on the bill), but fans of the Grammy-winning rock act are going to get a chance it see the band, for free, at Curtis Hixon Park on April 10.
The gig is happening before the Tampa Bay Lightning’s game one match-up in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Diana Nearhos made her first visit to Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame and wrote about it, bless her heart! A visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame [Tampa Bay Times, paid content]
The best part of the Hall, however, is waiting upstairs: The Great Hall. All of the Hall-of-Fame member plaques line this space, which truly lives up to the cathedral label. Andreychuk and Martin St. Louis, as recent inductees, face the outside of the room.
Allovimo reminds us that life is short and we should all think about this:
We’ve partnered with @davies_law_firm to host a Living Trust & Long-Term Care Seminar on Saturday, April 13.— x - Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) April 4, 2019
The seminar is free and all attendees will receive a complimentary ticket to that night’s #SyrCrunch game.
Register: https://t.co/Cjv3USipLB pic.twitter.com/B6Rj0e4B1v
This was fun. Cold brew: Inside the NHL’s coffee obsession [Washington Post]
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman — who, like the Sedin twins, hails from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden — said he had to dial back his intake from roughly five cups a day, though he still brings grounds from his hometown with him before every season. “Fika” is a crucial part of everyday Swedish culture, a social coffee break with baked goods.
So. David Staples did a close media analysis of an interview of Justin Bourne, and has decided that Bourne is being mean to the Oilers. His list of grievances is itemized: More nonsense out of Toronto on Connor McDavid wanting out of Edmonton [Edmonton Journal]
Eastern sportswriters have gone with the “McDavid wants out of Edmonton” narrative ever since they read into his facial expressions when Edmonton won the lottery. The hard truth is that this kind of nonsense will never end. It will quiet if the Oilers finally hire the right manager and coach and build a Stanley Cup-winning team around McDavid. But it will never end. Some Toronto sportswriters want McDavid on the Leafs, they’re still sore that Toronto didn’t win that lottery, and they won’t ever let up.
Down Goes Brown: When playoff matchups nobody is all that excited about turn out to be great [The Athletic, paid content]
The matchup: The Red Wings, coming off arguably the best regular season in NHL history, ran up against a worthy opponent in the Avalanche. You don’t need me to run down the whole story between the two teams; that’s been well-documented, and if you’re any sort of fan then you have most of the major scenes memorized. Some of them involved a dazzling list of Hall of Famers doing what they did best. Others involved moments that were ugly or downright dirty. Some of it doesn’t hold up well in light of what the game looks like today. A lot of it absolutely still does.