Here comes the wagon that we all know and love. The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a relatively quiet team this year, only just reaching 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. Whatever they have done before this point doesn’t matter, as they are playing their best hockey of the season. An 8 game winning streak, right before the all star break is a good sign, as they will get much needed rest, and be able to pick up right from where they left off: steamrolling teams.
Their previous win should be an indication of what is to come for the rest of the NHL. They just beat the Canucks 9-2, who were just on their own 7 game winning streak before it was snapped by this loss. The Canucks were riding high, getting scoring from all 4 lines, before they were handed this tough loss at Amalie Arena Tuesday night. They were thoroughly outplayed by the Lighting in all phases of the game, and couldn’t stop the scoring barrage in the 2nd period. The Lightning were able to score 6 goals in the second period. and then proceeded to add another 3 in the third. Little known Carter Verhaeghe had the first hat-trick of his NHL career scoring twice in the second and once in the third to complete the trick. He had only scored 2 goals in his career before this game, and had only played in 29 games total in the NHL. Andrei Vaslevskiy hasn’t been off to an amazing start by his standards, only posting a .911 save percentage so far. However, it has been enough to get his team the win in his last 5 starts.
The Lightning are coming off of two 110-plus point regular seasons, but suffered two very tough losses in the playoffs against the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitols, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last years’ loss was especially devastating, seeing as though they weren’t able to win a single game, getting swept by John Tortorella and the Jackets in the first round. I think it took them awhile to right the ship down in Tampa this season, coming off of such a terrible playoff performance. Losing to the Caps in 2018 was tough, but they gave them a good series, and the Capitals went on to win the Cup, so at least they can justify losing to them in that facet. But getting swept by the Second Wild-card team as the President Trophy Winners was shameful. How do you loose Game 1 when you are up 3-1 midway through the second period? How could you then lose the next three, without putting in the maximum amount of effort? They were clearly dogging it out there last year during that series, and it showed in the final result. It feels like they have found their stride this season, and hopefully, for them, they aren’t peaking at the wrong time.