Why a slow start from Tampa, means trouble for the rest of the NHL.
The 2019 season was flawless, 62 wins. That means this team only lost 20 games all season, a point percentage of 78%. They had a goal differential of 103. They let the league take notice what scoring and good goaltending can do. That type of season would make you believe they would have walked to the Stanley cup finals, but we all know what happened. A 62-win regular season, 128-point president trophy winning team swept in 4 games.
At this moment the Lightning are fighting for a wild card position and have started out much slower than last year. With only 6 wins in their first 12 games they find themselves 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Things have started out much differently this year. There scoring pace has decreased, goaltending hasn’t been as good and the depth has not been as impactful. I believe starting out slow, facing adversity now will propel this team to another president’s trophy.
Let’s take last game for example: 7-6 OTW @ Devils
- Kucherov: 14:48 TOI, 0P, -2, 1SOG
- Stamkos: 15:21 TOI, 0P, -2, 3SOG
- Point: 17:31 TOI, 1G 2A, +2, 1SOG
- Palat: 17:19 TOI, 2G 1A, +4, 4SOG
- Gourde: 11:31 TOI, 0P, -1, 0SOG
Those aren’t numbers you would normally see for Stamkos and Kucherov. But this is showing the depth of the Lightning are starting to score.
The Lightning currently sit 10th in the league in scoring 3.42 goals per game.
They also sit 10th in the league for goals allowed with 3.50 Goals per game.
I don't think you have to be a numbers person to figure out that allowing more goals than you are scoring, isn't a good recipe for success.
Here are the stats from the start of both 2018 & 2019 seasons:
2018 Starts 2019 Starts
- Point 11GP 7G 7A 14P - Point 9GP 4G 6A 10P
- Kucherov 11GP 5G 7A 12P - Kucherov 12GP 4G 7A 11P
- Gourde 11GP 4G 8A 12P - Gourde 12GP 1G 3A 4P
- J.Miller 11GP 3G 7A 10P - Shattenkirk 12GP 4G 5A 9P
- Johnson 10GP 5G 4A 9P - Johnson 12GP 4G 5A 9P
- Stamkos 11GP 2G 6A 8P - Stamkos 12GP 5G 7A 12P
- Palat 9GP 0G 5A 5P - Palat 12GP 5G 3A 8P
- Hedman 9GP 2G 2A 4P - Hedman 11GP 2G 7A 9P
- Sergachev 11GP 0G 4A 4P - Sergachev 12GP 0G 8A 8P
- Vasilevskiy 8GP 6W .935 SV% 1.98 GAA - Vasilevskiy 8GP 5W .910 SV% 3.00 GAA
Most of these players have actually started out either the same pace or better than last year. The main point of focus from those stats are Yanni Gourde and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Gourde was playing top six minutes last season producing 48 points for this Lightning team. He is currently on pace for 27 points this year and the Lightning will need better from him.
Vasilevskiy has been allowing over a goal more per game so far this year than last. McElhinney (3.93 GAA & .899 SV%) hasn't been much better. He has been a let down so far compared to Domingue (2.88 GAA & .908 SV%) last year. The tandem from 2018 really shut down the opposition.
I believe once Vasilevskiy gets his game back to Vezna caliber like years past, than this team will begin to dominate again. The scoring will come back, as they are too talented to continue to under perform. They are also too deep defensively to continue to struggle in their own end.
My bold prediction for this team is that they end up on top of the NHL, and win their second consecutive Presidents Trophy. They might take an entirely different route to get there than last year. But this team will head into the playoffs facing the second wild card team, focused on a deep playoff run.
NHL - Jeremy Davison