The Tampa Bay Lightning have three wins in their last ten games. That’s not great. It isn’t, however, the end of the world. Despite their most recent loss to Toronto, they still have an eleven point lead over the Maple Leafs for second place. With only twelve games left on the schedule, it’s going to be near impossible for the Leafs to close that gap.
With an eight-point gap between Boston and Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic, it’s also unlikely the Bolts will catch the Bruins for first place overall. So, in a sense, there isn’t too much left for the Lightning to play for in the regular season.
They just need to focus on getting and staying healthy. Thus seeing Erik Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev crumple to the ice after blocking shots was way more scary than the 2-1 final on the scoreboard). Luckily it didn’t seem like either player suffered any long-term damage in sacrificing themselves for the team.
While they may not be getting the wins, it isn’t like the team is playing horribly. Yes, their offense has stuttered a bit, but when Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman are out of the line-up, that’s going to happen. Tampa Bay is still managing to get quality shots on the net, and the defense is holding their own. Chances are if the Lightning, even without the Big Two, get more than thirty shots a night on Fredrick Andersen multiple times in a seven game series, they’re going to score a bunch of goals. Don’t let the result of one game, or one bad period, delude you into thinking the Lightning are a bad team.
They are still playing solid hockey. I’m not the foremost expert when it comes to stats, but I know if the team you like is in the upper right hand quadrant on Sean Tierney’s charts, they’re doing pretty good.
Good morning, friends.— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 10, 2020
Let's take a look at team trends, comparing full season results to where the team has headed over the past two months: https://t.co/xg1hC0V4KJ
VGK, MTL, and COL have seen their shot rates improve. BOS too.
OTT, ARI, WPG, SJS have dashed for fun.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been solid over his last few starts. The defense, even with Zach Bogosian and Braydon Coburn getting regular shifts, is limiting quality chances for their opponents. I’d put the top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat against any in the league. So things are going along just fine, even without the wins.
The Lightning are going to finish up with more than 100 points for the third consecutive season. They’re going to make the playoffs and have home-ice advantage in at least one round. With any luck at all, they’re going to have Stamkos and Hedman back in time for the first round. These are all good things. So don’t stress out. Enjoy the last few months of the season.
Save all that stress and worry for when it matters - the first round of the playoffs when the Lightning are facing off against the Maple Leafs in a track meet disguised as a hockey series.
It wasn’t the outcome that anyone in Tampa wanted (well except for the legions of snowbirds still hanging out on the beaches) but after a rough first period, the Lightning played fairly well. They just couldn’t solve Frederik Andersen. [Raw Charge]
Sheldon Keefe was once a precocious Lightning prospect. Joe Smith examines how his time in Tampa prepared him to be a head coach in the NHL. [The Athletic]
The Crunch split two games with the Toronto Marlies. Despite the losses they’re still in the playoff hunt. Wrapping up the weekend that was for Syracuse. [Raw Charge]
One of the top prospects in the organization is still playing. Sammy Walker assisted on the Gophers first goal as Minnesota defeated Notre Dame to advance to the Big Ten Semi Finals. Their next game will be against Penn State on Saturday. [The Daily Gopher]
For the first time in twenty-six seasons the German League will not crown a champion. The league has cancelled the rest of their regular season due to a ban in the country on any event over 1,000. The regular season had just concluded so it’s just the playoffs that are being cancelled. This follows a growing trend of major sporting events being cancelled as the sports world grapples with how to deal with restrictions being enacted by local and federal governments around the world. [The Hockey News]
ESPN ranks the top 50 NHL affilliated prospects. These players are spread throughout the AHL, junior hockey, college, and Europe. For those without an ESPN+ subscription I’ll save you the mystery - no one in the Lightning organization made the list. Alex Barre-Boulet did make it as an honorable mention, though. [ESPN NHL]