Here’s the good and the bad of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s week and random NHL thoughts for the week ending October 15, 2017…
GAME SUMMARIES (Home team in CAPS)
LIGHTNING 4, Capitals 3–(OT)
Goals: Killorn (1), Kunitz (1), Kucherov (3), Point (3)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (23), 2-1-0
LIGHTNING 5, Penguins 4
Goals: Koekkoek 2 (2), Hedman (1), Stamkos (1), Kucherov (4)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (36), 3-1-0
LIGHTNING 2, Blues 1
Goals: Johnson (2), Kucherov (5)
Saves: Vasilevskiy (28). 4-1-0
SEASON: 4-1-0, 8 points, 2nd place Atlantic Division
- Unlike their two games against the Panthers last week, the Lightning looked like a Stanley Cup contender in their three games this week. Their puck management was stronger, they outhit each of their three opponents (68-50) and won more than 50% of their faceoffs for the entire week. They also scored a power play goal in each of their three games, going a combined 5-12 on the man advantage against three elite opponents in Washington, Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
- If you are a hockey fan, don’t miss a chance to see the Lightning play either Washington or Pittsburgh during the regular season and especially the playoffs. It’s 60 minutes of end-to-end, fast-paced action that is the definition of firewagon hockey. Lightning fans were treated to two such games last week and it was simply a blast to watch.
- Before the season started, Nikita Kucherov was considered one of the elite forwards in the NHL. His five goals in five games only validates that assessment. Kucherov has become must-see hockey every time he steps on the ice with everyone in the building anxiously awaiting for him to produce another highlight reel moment. “Kuch has so much deception to his game,” head coach Jon Cooper said after Saturday’s game. “That’s why he’s a special player.”
- When you win three games in a row, it’s difficult to find any faults. The Lightning did outshoot their opponents for the week, 101-95, but they did lose the shots on goal battle to Pittsburgh (40-34) and St. Louis (29-25). The penalty kill did improve against St. Louis, shutting out the Blues on three power play opportunities, but against Washington and Pittsburgh they allowed three power play goals on nine chances. Allowing fewer shows on goal and improving the penalty kill are two areas where the Lightning need to improve so their offense, the strength of their team, can control the rhythm of the game.
- Over the previous four seasons, Andrej Sustr has been a mainstay of the Tampa Bay defense. This season, even when Cooper has played with seven defensemen, Sustr has been absent, playing only one of the team’s first five games. Based on the early returns, Sustr appears to be on the team’s trading block.
- If you are a Buffalo Sabres fan, you’re praying the team doesn’t go on the power play. In their first six games, the Sabres have allowed five shorthanded goals.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
- Nikita Kucherov–3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points
- Andrei Vasilevskiy–3 wins, 87 saves, 2.66 GAA
- Alex Killorn–1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
Tuesday–at New Jersey