Already member? Login first!

Comments / New

Sunday Recap: The week that was for the Tampa Bay Lightning

Feb 17, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Conor Sheary (73) controls the puck against the Florida Panthers in the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a nice quiet Sunday. There is no football. Baseball consists of footage of players leisurely playing catch or stretching. Basketball is taking their All-Star Break and until Leeds United is promoted, who cares about the Premier League? The Rowdies did take down Montreal in a pre-season friendly, so that was nice.

As for our favorite professional sports franchise, it was a pretty good week capped off by a pretty bad game. The Tampa Bay Lightning went 2-1 over the week with wins against the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche. Their attempt at completing the sweep of tough opponents was going well for about 24 seconds. Then it went really, really poorly. Still, don’t let one loss ruin your mood.

Saturday night’s loss did cost them a spot in the standings as the Toronto Hat Tricks were able to leapfrog them into the third spot in the Atlantic with their 9-2 win (that score sounds familiar) over the Anaheim Ducks. Tampa Bay sits in the first Wild Card spot with a 30-21-5 record and 65 points.

Nikita Kucherov (who else) led the way in points with 5 (3 goals, 2 assists) in 3 games as he breached the 90-point barrier on the season and now has 94 on the season. Brandon Hagel continued his mid-season resurgence with 4 more points (1 goal, 3 assists) and now has 52 points and another 20-goal season. With all of the hype that Kucherov is getting, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Hagel has a 9-game point streak. It’ll be a stretch to match the 30 goals he had in his first full season as a member of the Lightning last season, but his career-high of 64 points is in reach.

Who should have had a goal but didn’t? Probably Mikey Eyssimont. Natural Stat Trick had him pegged with an individual expected goals of 0.72, but Eyssimont only recorded a lone assist over the week. His 5 individual high-danger chances was tied for the most on the team over the week with Hagel. He’s been knocking on the door in the last few games, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he finds the back of the net soon.

Defensively, Eyssimont was on the ice the longest without seeing a goal against (37:04) while Victor Hedman was on the ice for the most goals against (7). That’s not surprising considering he had the most ice-time and three of those goals came while killing penalties. It’s been an interesting defensive season for Hedman. While he quietly makes a lot of solid plays, there has been more than one occasion where it looks like he is out of position or unable to make a play to clear the puck.

Health-wise it was a mixed bag for the Lightning. They saw Tanner Jeannot return to play Boston after a 12-game absence only to see him leave that game early and get hit with the dreaded day-to-day status. He missed the other two games in the week. Nick Paul left the Colorado game early, but was in the line-up against the Panthers.

Austin Watson, who hadn’t played since February 8th was back in the line-up against Florida, but managed more penalty minutes (17) than ice time (9:11). With Watson back in the line-up and Paul able to go, the Lightning didn’t need to rely on the Syracuse pipeline for reinforcements just yet.

Overall, this was a good week for the Lightning. A more competitive game against the Panthers would have been a nice way to cap it off, but when you step back a little, the Lightning did pretty much what they needed to do. They showed that they can compete and beat the top-level teams in both the East and West with their wins over the Bruins and Avalanche.

Offensively, they scored 10 goals, which was tied for 8th in the league over the week, but that’s a slightly deceptive number as 2 of them were empty netters against Colorado. Another 2 came on the power play, leaving 6 even-strength goals which was 14th in the league. If you want to stay positive, then we can say that the Bolts managed to win two games without having to rely on their offense. Andrei Vasilevskiy was really good in the Bruins and Avalanche wins and a bit unlucky in his two periods against the Panthers.

We also saw the debut of the new Lightning third jerseys this week. As is typical with these types of things, they looked a lot better on ice than they did in the reveal photos and videos. The 3D lettering on the back was a nice homage to the original Bolt uniforms, but overall I still give them a solid C. We’ll see them one more time on this home stand and then a few more times

It’ll be a busy week for the Bolts as they finish up their home stand with games against Ottawa on Monday and Washington on Thursday. They head on the road after that with a back-to-back against the Islanders and Devils over the weekend. While Ottawa is in another hopeless campaign they are a bit frisky these days now that their roster is healthy (just ask the Maple Leafs). Meanwhile, the other three teams on the schedule are just on the outside of the wild card spots, so expect these games to be tight.

Down on the Farm:

It was a quick week for the Syracuse Crunch as they only had two games. Their struggles against the Belleville Senators continued with a 6-5 loss, but they rebounded on Friday with a 2-1 win over Lehigh Valley as Hugo Alnefelt made 25 saves on 26 shots. Gabriel Dumont and Cole Koepke had the goals for the Crunch, both coming on the power play.

The Crunch are 0-3-1 against Belleville in February, but 3-0 against everyone else. Sometimes there are teams that you just can’t beat for some reason.

With an assist on the Koepke goal against Lehigh Valley, Gage Goncalves ran his point streak to 3 games and his raised his assist total to 33, which is 4th overall in the AHL. Alnefelt has an 11-5-4 record and his .912 SV% is 16th in the league while his 2.28 GAA is tied for 7th.

Through 47 games, the Crunch sit in second place in the North Division with a 27-15-3-2 (W-L-OTL-SOL) one point behind the Cleveland Monsters. It will be a three-in-three weekend for the Crunch as the play in Utica on Friday, take on Belleville at home on Saturday, and then Utica at home on Sunday.

Over in Orlando, the Solar Bears went 3-0 with two wins coming at the expense of the Worcester Railers and the other against in-state rival Florida Everblades. Brandon Halverson stopped all 36 shots in a 4-0 shutout against the Railers on Thursday.

Orlando has four games coming up this week with a matinee match-up against Worcester on Monday and then, like the Crunch, a three-in-three over the weekend. Jacksonville is in town on Friday and then Atlanta is their guest on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the Solar Bears will attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people wearing aloha shirts. So grab your best collared, button-down short sleeve shirt with at least three colors, and make the drive across I-4 to help set the record.

If you enjoyed this article please consider supporting RawCharge by subscribing here, or purchasing our merchandise here.

Support RawCharge by using our Affiliate Link when Shopping Hockey Apparel !