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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay Lightning back in first place in the NHL

The double reigning champs are back on top.

Ottawa Senators v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 16: Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy #88, Steven Stamkos #91, and Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate the win against the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena on December 16, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Last night, Steven Stamkos scored his 900th career point en route to a Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. With that win, and a subsequent Florida Panthers loss, the Lightning have jumped both them and the Leafs for first place in the Atlantic Division and NHL overall.

After the start they’ve had, and more importantly injuries they’ve incurred, it’s incredible that they have been able to get back to the top of the standings before we turned the calendar to 2022.

While it’s fully been a team effort from everyone in the organization — from Andrei Vasilevskiy, the players, Coach Cooper, and JBB bringing in extra bodies — this team couldn’t have been this good without the team’s original franchise players: Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.

Stamkos has 34 points in 23 games this season, putting him FIFTH IN THE NHL IN POINTS, and ahead of Matthews, Panarin, and Huberdeau. Meanwhile, Hedman has 30 points in 29 games, putting him second in NHL defenseman points behind Adam Fox and 17th overall. For Hedman, this is the fastest any Lightning defenseman has reached 30 points in a season, beating his own record from last season.

Stamkos thanked the fans for the ovation after the game, saying how excited he is to get 100 more.

Here is our recap from last night. Killorn, Colton, and Raddysh all had good nights too. Oh, and Vasy was Vasy.

“In the win, captain Steven Stamkos earned his 900th career point and got a standing ovation from the home crowd for the achievement. He’s on 53 points behind Martin St. Louis for the franchise record in points, which he can probably get within the next year or so. And at only 31 years old, there’s a good chance he’ll be the first player in franchise history to hit 1000 points with the team.”

In other news, check out this interview with former Syracuse Crunch forward Jimmy Huntington.

As of last night, half of NHL teams are under COVID-19 protocol. The Calgary Flames are completely shut down with almost all the players in protocol, Nashville too, and teams like Boston getting ever-growing lists. A lot of teams last night played with fewer than 20 players in the lineup simply because too many were out and the AHL is experiencing similar outbreaks at the moment.

There have been calls from many to increase safety measures for players and staff, or even shut the league down until after the Christmas break. At the very least they should institute Taxi Squads again so teams don’t have to go out there with 16 skaters and one contracted goalie like the Avalanche did last night.

Ontario has reduced building capacity for the Leafs, Senators, and their others sports teams to 50%, while Quebec announced no fans in attendance for last night’s Habs vs. Flyers games.

Decisions are apparently being made on an ad hoc per-team basis, which has alarmed a lot of fans and confused even more players. You have to wonder what the NHL and NHLPA are going to do about this.