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Lightning Round: The start of the long road trip

The Bolts will play 10 out of the 11 next games on the road

Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

The previous game against the Detroit Red Wings was the last game of three-game homestand for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now the Lightning are entering probably their hardest stretch of the 2021-22 regular season as they’ll play 10 out of 11 next games on the road. The first stop is tonight in Chicago.

After playing against the Blackhawks tonight, the Bolts are heading to Manitoba, to play against the Winnipeg Jets and then further to Western Canada for the games with the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. The games against the Oilers and Canucks are back-to-back games. This trip to the west coast of North America ends with a first ever game at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle against the local Kraken.

After playing in Seattle, the Bolts will make a quick stop back at Amalie Arena in Tampa to play against the New York Rangers on March 19, but then immediately return on the road to plat against the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders in the span of five days. The last two games against the Red Wings and the Isles are also back-to-back games.

The Lightning, however, have been a pretty solid team this season on the road. They currently have 17-7-2 record in those games and with .692 point percentage the Bolts are currently second in the NHL in this category, trailing only to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Lightning outscored their opponents 96-80 on the road and, interestingly, the Lightning’s power play unit have been more efficient on the road so far: in games outside of Amalie Arena the Lightning have 23.7 PP%, comparing to 19.6 PP% in home games.

Speaking of individual performances, not a surprise that Steven Stamkos is leading his team in points and goals on the road. In fact he has been even more impressive in those games, recording an outstanding 1.36 points-per-game percentage for total 34 (16+18) points in 25 games. Victor Hedman is currently second with 25 (4+21) points in 25 games and leading the team with assists on the road. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been also very solid in away games and with 13 wins ranks in top-5 in the NHL in this category.

Overall, before the start of the road trip, the Lightning are second in the Atlantic division, trailing to the Florida Panthers by one point with one game in hand. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who were in the leading group alongside those two teams, have fallen a little bit behind after losing two games in a row and are now trailing the Bolts by four points.

Lightning Links

The Syracuse Crunch lost the second game in a row against the Utica Comets on Saturday night. Alex Green and Cole Koepke scored for Syracuse.

The Orlando Solar Bears also haven’t been lucky last night, dropping the game against the South Carolina Stingrays.

Hockey News

The last night was pretty busy in the NHL.

The Chicago Blackhawks, who are scheduled to play against the Lightning tonight, lost to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.

The Arizona Coyotes’ Nick Schmaltz recorded seven points in the game against the Winnipeg Jets, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve this record. That’s also the first 7+ point game by an NHL player since Sam Gagner recorded eight points for the Edmonton Oilers in 2012.

Auston Matthews scored twice against the Vancouver Canucks to take the lead in goalscoring race in the NHL, but his team still lost this game 6-4.

The Vegas Golden Knight signed defencemen Ben Hutton to a two-year extension.