The Tampa Bay Lightning had four games last week and managed to win all four of them. The first two games were won on the backs of their offense while the final two were two of the best defensive efforts the Bolts had on the year (especially the Nashville win). So who were the best three players on the team in our opinion?
Third Star: Mikhail Sergachev
4 GP, 2 Goals, 6 Assists, .22 xGF, 14 Shot Attempts, 5 Shots
While his numbers were boosted by the four point first period against the Washington Capitals to kick off the week, it was a steady week for the young blueliner. He picked up points in three of the four games. After the egregious turnover against Dallas in the third period of that game, he wasn't charged with one over the final two games of the week. With Victor Hedman not providing his usual offense, Sergachev has stepped up that part of his games.
Second Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy
3 GP, 3 Wins, .936 SV%, 6 GA, 0.94 GSAx
Vasy hasn’t been bad this year, but he hasn’t been great either. For the most part he’s been kind of average, but that’s not what we expect of him. Last week, however, we saw some signs of him emerging out of the doldrums. For the first time since the opening two games of the season he posted consecutive games with positive goals saved above expected. Chances are, if you take out the third period against Washington, he’s probably above water on that stat in all three of his starts. He also posted a .941 first save percentage over the week. That plays into the Lightning’s defensive system. He makes the first save and the players in front of him take care of the second chances.
First Star: Nikita Kucherov
4 GP, 4 Goals, 3 Assists, 3.79 xGF, 46 Shot Attempts, 21 Shots
Kucherov takes the top spot based on pure volume. He scored in three of the four games while also recording multiple points in three of them. Even in the game he was held off of the scoreboard (against the Calgary Flames) he was still a factor as he had 12 shot attempts and 7 shots on goal.
Lightning / NHL News
For McDonagh, reuniting with former teammates ‘just like old times’ [Tampa Bay Times]
‘He not just a hell of a player, but he’s a hell of a guy,’ said defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. ‘He’s my favorite teammate, for sure. He’s (goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s) favorite teammate, I know that. It’s been a pleasure playing and learning from him, and I still like to watch his games sometimes. Just the stuff he does, the consistency of it, is on another level.’
World Cup Diary: Part One [NHL.com]
But I [Victor Hedman] like Belgium. I think this is kind of their last chance with their golden generation, so I hope they have a good tournament and can top it up with a win. But they have a tough group as well. Croatia are an unbelievable team, Morocco has some really good players and then obviously our neighbors to the north in Canada
Sergachev is averaging a point a game and has even bumped Hedman off the first power play unit, while doubling Hedman’s point total on the year. He also has twice as many power play points as Hedman and he’s been far superior for blocks as well. Unless something unforeseen happens, Sergachev should have little trouble obliterating his career high of 40 points.
It’s been an interesting season for Shane Wright. First he drops from the top spot in the draft, then he finds himself on the bench or in the press box for most of the season. Now he’s heading to the AHL for a conditioning loan. He could be down there for as long as 14 days and play in as many games as are scheduled. Chances are he’ll spend the full two weeks down there and then either head back to Seattle or to Team Canada’s training camp for the U20 World Championships.
Merzlikins is the latest Blue Jackets player to land on the IR as the team has been hit hard with injuries as of late.
Forward Patrik Laine (sprained ankle) is expected to be out for another three weeks while top defenceman Zach Werenski (shoulder) will miss the remainder of the season. Defenceman Nick Blankenburg (fractured ankle and high ankle sprain) plus forwards Sean Kuraly and Jakub Voracek (both out with upper-body injuries) were also placed on the IR just over a week ago.
Malkin at 1000 games [Pensburgh]
Here’s a cool tweet - update your files mentally to 1,165 points after Geno’s assist last night on Jason Zucker’s game winning goal. Malkin ranks 17th place in league history for players in points through their first 1,000 NHL games. The company he is keeping on this list is a who’s who of the greatest offensive players of all-time.