Over the next few weeks, we’re running a bracket to determine the best Tampa Bay Lightning team in franchise history. Each day, we’ll put two of the 27 teams since the inaugural season in 1992-1993 up against each other to determine a winner until we’re left with who the community thinks is the best version of the Lightning.
After yesterday’s battle of the titans, today’s match-up could be a little bit of a letdown. Although, this might be the most even match we’ve had all tournament as a couple of 46-win teams battle against each other.
Two teams with 46 wins. Two teams that were one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals. You really can’t get two teams that are more similar to each other in regards to results than these two.
So, how are we to choose? Well, lets match the two up and see how things end up.
The 2015-16 team had Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy patrolling the crease. Bishop started 60 games and had a quality start in 61% of them. His 19 goals saved above average led the league. Bishop was 8-2 with 9 QS and 2 shutouts in the playoffs. Vasilevskiy was really good in relief after Bishop was hurt against the Penguins, but what might have happened if Big Bish was able to play the entire ECF?
In 2010-11 it was Dwayne Roloson’s arrival via a January trade that really sparked the team’s push to glory. It wasn’t so much that he was putting up Vezina-esque numbers as it was that he provided some stability in net for a team that was getting chaotic performances from Mike Smith and Dan Ellis. In the playoffs it was a different story as Roloson had 12 quality starts in 17 games.
Advantage: 2015-16. The regular season play of Bishop gives him the edge since they both had fantastic postseasons.
Big Three Offense:
Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat were the top offensive threats for the 2015-16 team. None of them reached the 70 point plateau. Stamkos (36) and Kucherov (30) were the only players to exceed 20 goals but the team still managed to score a total of 224. Depth was key for this team.
For a team that supposedly choked offense out of the game with their 1-3-1 alignment, the 2010-11 team was 8th in the league in scoring with 241 goals. They were top heavy with Martin St. Louis leading the team with 99 points, Steven Stamkos second with 91 and Vincent Lecavalier third with 54 (albeit in only 65 games).
Advantage: 2010-11. The 2015-16 team may have been deeper, but we’re only looking at the top three in this case. The experience of the 2010-11 trio takes the day.
In 2015-16, the Tampa Bay Lightning only surrendered 198 goals. That’s the second fewest in franchise history for an 82 game season. Their 84% PK was sixth in franchise history while their 28.9 shots against was respectable. Led by Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman, the blueline had a nice blend of young and old players, but the real strength came from the commitment of the forwards in helping out. They made up for their lack of offense by playing strong defense.
In contrast the 2010-11 team tended to outscore their defensive issues. Their 234 goals allowed were the 9th most allowed in the league that season. The blue line was a lot more rugged (i.e. physical) as players like Brett Clark and Eric Brewer were among the leaders in ice time. Much like Kucherov, Hedman hadn’t quite developed into the top line player we think of now. Give him credit he was just 20-years-old.
Advantage: 2015-16. They were just better at defense no matter what system was deployed.
Bonus Match-up: Steven Stamkos Game Eastern Conference Inspiration
Both teams lost their Game 7 contests; 2015-16 to Pittsburgh and 2010-11 to Boston. Steven Stamkos didn’t score in either game, but he did provide a little bit on inspiration to the team in both seasons.
In 2015-16 it was Stamkos coming back from almost two months off following issues with a blood clot. He only played 11:55 but had two shots, including one that trickled just wide of the net.
He also didn’t play a complete Game 7 in 2010-11, but that’s because he took a shot off the face five minutes into the second period. A broken nose and full cage facemask later he was back in the game. Unfortunately he was on the ice when Nathan Horton scored the only goal in the game. In fact, Stamkos’ stick was just inches away from deflecting the centering pass from David Krejci on the goal.
Advantage: 2015-16. While neither occasion worked out for the Lightning, there was a feeling when we saw Stamkos on the ice in warm-ups it felt like he was going to do something special.
Winner: 2015-16. Don’t let that affect your vote, though.
2015-16 Lightning (46-31-5, 12th place)
2010-11 Lightning (46-25-11, 8th place)
Which is the better Tampa Bay Lightning Team?
This poll is closed
News and Notes:
The NHL asked a pretty simple question on Twitter - “Who’s your favorite local announcer?” A nice innoculas question during a period where there is no hockey being played, right? Well, sure, but they sparked a furious debate by including Jack Edwards as one of their examples (along with Darren Pang and John Forslund). The comments (over 2000 last time we checked) go about as well as you think they would go on that website.
Seeing a debate about local announcing crews makes me sad to think that Rick Peckham may have called his last game for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He really was the voice of the Lightning for most of their existence and will really be missed.
Not much else happened in the hockey world except for the league being quick to condemn the actions of Brendan Leipsec and Jack Rodewald. Both the NHL and the Washington Capitals will be pursuing this further.
Lets wrap this up with a happy memory.