Latest Features

Koekkoek, Slater

NHL Game Night: 1-23-18 Lightning at Predators

Everything is good, all of a sudden.

TB-4
NSH-3 (OT)

Louis Domingue allowed 3 goals* on 33 shots for the OT victory. Why the asterisk? Because he got hosed on an uncalled goaltender interference where a Preds forward launched himself into Domingue's shoulder as Subban's shot arrived, turning him around in the net. Despite this injustice, Domingue played well with several ten bell saves in a First Period where the Lightning could've easily allowed 4 or 5 goals were it not for the exploits of the Dominguenator.

First Period
6:24 TB Kunitz (7), (unassisted)
7:28 NSH Ellis (3), (Josi, Sissons)(PP)
9:11 NSH Arvidsson (14), (Aberg, Irwin)
10:48 TB Namestnikov (16), (Stamkos, Kunitz)

Second Period
19:10 NSH Subban (11), (Ekholm, Joahnsen)(PP)*

Third Period
17:48 TB Stamkos (18), (Koekkoek, Kunitz)

Overtime
1:45 TB Gourde (16), (Namestnikov)

Yanni Gourde was the game's first star.

Take away the first 10 minutes of this game, and the Lightning were the better team tonight and they deserved the two points. Even without Hedman, they came into this game against the reigning Western Conference champs and they took two points the hard way, even after the Predators got gifted that bogus lead goal* at the end of the Second Period. After suffering some embarrassing debacles the Lightning have seemingly started to figure out how to compete without their stud number one defenseman and they will be a much stronger team for the experience once he returns.

NFL: "We created this really confusing reception rule that the refs, media, and fans can't possibly comprehend and creates frustration that tarnishes our brand and makes us all look like fools. No one will ever top the ignominy of our rule."

NHL looks at the crease: "Hold my beer."

If the rationale behind allowing that goal really was something to do with the blue paint of the crease, it's a horrible rule and it needs to be rewritten. The goaltender should have the right to come out and challenge the shooter and cut down the angle on a long shot. Domingue established his position and he was leapt into and spun around before the puck arrived. Textbook goaltender interference (heck, probably should've been a 2 minute minor, to boot) and it's unfathomable how that goal was allowed to stand. If that's a goal then it's open season on goaltenders because nothing is interference. Just go hog wild and Darcy Tucker-style start running netminders to your heart's content.

Thankfully, the Lightning overcame.

Slater Koekkoek was +2 with a helper, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in a hefty 18:34 of ice time. It was a quiet 18:34, which is good, right up until Koekkoek swooped into the zone as the late man and made a heck of a long diagonal pass to Stamkos for the big one timer to equalize late in the Third Period. That's what everyone has to be hoping from with Koekkoek: the total package for all 200 feet.

Jake Dotchin had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 17:03.

Matthew Peca had 2 hits and was 50% on 10 draws in 13:03.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-20-18 Lightning at Wild

Everything is bad, all of a sudden.

TB-2
MIN-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 34 shots on the loss. He might like the third Minnesota goal that wedged in short side back... but then again he might like the defense in front of him to show up, too.

First Period
10:07 MIN Spurgeon (6), (Staal)(PP)
17:24 MIN Parise (1), (Suter, Staal)

Second Period
7:11 MIN Prosser (2), (Eriksson Ek, Rau)
15:35 TB Point (18), (Sergachev, Johnson)

Third Period
3:10 MIN Foligno (4), (Cullen, Ennis)
6:37 TB Point (19), (Johnson, Stamkos)(PP)
19:01 MIN Zucker (18), (Dubnyk)(EN)

This suddenly is taking on the feel of last season. Yes, Victor Hedman's injury has blown an undeniably large hole in the Lightning blueline, but that doesn't fully explain the recent futility. The same lack of intensity and attention to detail that marred the first 50 or so games of last season has crept back into Tampa Bay's game and their revamped leadership council has yet to be successful in pulling the club out of the funk. First goal: clean faceoff loss by Johnson. Back of the net. Second goal: blind, weak clear up the middle on a broken play by Koekkoek. Third goal: complete defensive zone coverage bust and the resulting shot gets in short side on Vasilevskiy. Fourth goal: Sergachev coasts behind his net on a 50/50 puck and is a bystander while Point whiffs trying to cut off the pass to yet another open Wild shooter in the slot. It's pathetic, and it's a virus that's effecting several different players, not just a handful of offenders. The defense isn't very good right now and Mikhail Sergachev is playing his worst hockey of the season at the moment. True. But, you know what? Vasilevskiy's not cloaking himself in glory either and, even more damning, the backchecking and defensive zone coverage by the forwards is completely and utterly unacceptable at the moment. Can't find the scoresheet and get the glory if you don't have the puck, boys. And you'll never have the puck if you don't work, and work smart, to get it back. This isn't difficult, conceptually.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 10:00 of ice time. Pretty much got his ice time cut off after the First Period turnover under duress.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 16:23. He might've been in the upper half of the Lightning d-men tonight in quality, but that was an awfully low bar to clear. You could roller skate over it.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-18-18 Golden Knights at Lightning

Hedman-less Lightning see Vegas manufacture a laugher.

LV-4
TB-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 30 shots for the loss. He hasn't been making the big situational saves necessary to help the team climb into games lately like he was earlier in the season. Case in point: tonight Vegas' second goal on the knuckler that handcuffed him from the point. That's a save he's got to make for his team in that spot.

First Period
0:56 LV Neal (19), (Engelland, Perron)
16:03 LV Schmidt (3), (McNabb, Haula)

Second Period
10:18 TB Palat (8), (Stamkos, Kucherov)(PP)
17:43 LV Perron (10), (Engelland, Theodore)

Third Period
0:18 LV Karlsson (24), (Marchessault)

Credit to Las Vegas, they manufactured an easy road win tonight in workmanlike fashion. The first goal of the game by Neal and the final goal of the game by Karlsson that salted it away both came in the opening minute of a period and both came off faceoff losses by Vladislav Namestnikov. So, they built two goals and that and one Vasiy might want back on the Schmidt goal turned this from a pretty even game (shots were 30-29, although the broader possession stats were uglier for Tampa Bay) into a laugher.

Slater Koekkoek was -2 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:31. Throw the minuses out, because they both came on the goals off the faceoff losses. I thought Slater played a decent game.

Jake Dotchin had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 5 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:24. The big test is obviously Koekkoek's to take with Hedman out, but Dotchin's got a little something to prove with Hedman out, too, and I don't think he did anything to hurt his stock tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-7-18 Lightning at Red Wings

The Dominguenator drinks a tall glass of sweet, sweet Red Wing tears.

TB-5
DET-2

Louis Domingue allowed just 2 goals on 36 shots for this first victory in the Lightning uniform. Thought he played a simple, efficient game. He made some really important situational saves on a 2-on-0, on a partial breakaway, and on a pair of 5-on-3 scenarios and just bought time for the Lightning skaters to get some opportunistic goals.

First Period
8:56 TB Girardi (3), (Namestnikov, Gourde)
14:11 TB Johnson (13), (Girardi, Palat)

Second Period
3:10 DET Nyquist (14), (Bertuzzi, Zetterberg)
19:00 TB Gourde (13), (Killorn, Namestnikov)

Third Period
3:06 DET Abdelkader (7), (Mantha)
13:42 TB Kucherov (27), (Stamkos)
16:05 TB Gourde (14), (Palat)

Yanni Gourde and Dan Girardi were the game's first and third stars. Domingue was robbed.

That wasn't a Picasso. At times in the Second Period it wasn't even Dogs Playing Poker. But, under the circumstances, that's a big character win for the Lightning under some harsh circumstances. They'd been challenged by their coach after last night's debacle in Ottawa. They were playing the fresher team and were on the downside of a back-to-back. And, contrary to the crying from the Detroit side of the aisle, the refs in this game were borderline ridiculous giving the Wings a pair of 5-on-3's and ignoring a plethora of infractions by the Wings. Detroit also tried to goon this one up at times and were really taking runs and the Lightning and I thought Tampa Bay's smallish forwards showed a lot of bravery and really answered the bell when challenged. Brayden Point bloodied Dylan Larkin for boarding linemate Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde beat the tar out of Tomas Tatar and, I think, sent a message that while these weren't big heavyweight bouts these little guys are not going to be taken advantage of. And the Lightning were opportunistic, even scoring the big insurance marker on the rare clean offensive faceoff zone win. Ten straight wins over Detroit are sweet, really sweet.

Having been a captive to the Detroit broadcast tonight, I could write a novella about what I think about how they comported themselves tonight. Rather than do that though, I'll point something out to their producers. Your franchise's struggles against the Lightning began almost the exact moment you hired Darren Eliot off the Atlanta Thrasher-Jets bread line. Coincidence?

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:56.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-6-18 Lightning at Senators

Sloppy Lightning embarrass themselves in Ottawa.

TB-3
OTT-6

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 33 shots for the loss. I was surprised Cooper didn't pull him to try to spark the team after a disgraceful First Period where they played so poorly in front of him. They finally ran into a night where Andrei didn't bail them out from their biggest mistakes.

First Period
4:48 OTT Dzingel (12), (Stone)
5:51 OTT Duchene (10), (Ryan)
17:04 OTT Smith (4), (Karlsson, Oduya)

Second Period
0:26 TB Hedman (5), (unassisted)
1:41 TB Koekkoek (4), (Kucherov, Killorn)
15:57 TB Gourde (12), (Sergachev, Johnson)(PP)

Third Period
10:44 OTT Stone (17), (Brassard, Chabot)
14:57 OTT Pageau (6), (Karlsson)
17:08 OTT Dzingel (13), (Karlsson, Stone)

When you gift a team, no matter how low they are in the standings, goals off of stupid mistakes, you can get embarrassed like this. The self-inflicted wounds tonight were numerous, including horrible turnovers that led to Ottawa's first goal and game winning goal and a clean faceoff loss that yielded Ottawa's back breaking insurance goal. There's your margin of victory right there. All things the Lightning could've controlled.

Slater Koekkoek had a goal, 4 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:19. Made a dynamite shot joining the play late to score the second goal for the Lightning. All-in-all did nothing to hurt the case for more games.

Yanni Gourde had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots in 16:31. He was only 14% on 7 draws, though. I don't think the Lightning are using Gourde to his highest and best by playing him at center, and if the Lightning could acquire a third line center and move Gourde back to wing, I think they'd get some nice results out of it. Tonight was Gourde's 41st game of the season, so he graduates from prospect status on the website.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 blocked shots in 20:51. Pretty awful start to the game with the turnover that immediately spotted Ottawa a goal. I'm thinking he might want to burn the tape of this one.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper on the goal that tied the game, but was an ugly -4 with 2 penalty minutes to go with 3 shots and 3 hits in 15:59. He also graduated from prospect status on the website in tonight's game.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

NHL Game Night: 12-29-17 Flyers at Lightning

Lightning lose sloppy game, and possibly their backup goaltender.

PHI- 5
TB- 3

Petr Budaj allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the loss before exiting with what appeared to be a significant left leg injury caused by an accidental collision with a sliding Scott Laughton. I thought the fourth goal exposed some of Budaj’s athletic limitations, but he actually played a very good game before the unfortunate injury. I’d expect Louis Domingue recalled for what may be an extended stint from Syracuse. He’s had NHL experience with Arizona and is a bigger goalie who fits what Frantz Jean teaches. I think he’ll do a good job for Tampa Bay if he gets the call. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 4 shots he faced in relief.

First Period
7:27 TB Stamkos (16), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
6:56 PHI Simmonds (12), (Couturier, Voracek)(PP)
10:03 PHI Gostisbehere (8), (Simmonds, Giroux)(PP)
15:37 TB Point (16), (Palat, Kucherov)
19:48 PHI Couturier (18), (Giroux, Konecny)

Third Period
1:53 PHI Manning (4), (Giroux, Konecny)
8:58 TB Johnson (10), (unassisted)(SH)
19:27 PHI Filppula (9), (Voracek, Couturier)(EN)

Tyler Johnson was the game’s third star.

Not much to love about this game. The Lightning got outpossessed and outworked and Philly earned the goals they manufactured with the elbow grease expended. Other than Point, nobody in blue appeared to have any jump and only the fluke luck of Provorov’s broken stick on Johnson’s SH goal game them a chance to net points at the end, which they frankly didn’t deserve tonight.

Slater Koekkoek played 8:09. If you blinked you might’ve missed him.

Yanni Gourde was -1 in 16:14 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot. He was also 42% on 12 draws. I think you want more from an energy guy like Gourde in a game like this.

Jake Dotchin was -1 with 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:12. I’m surprised his IT went down against this opponent. I wonder if fatigue was an element of that.

Mikhail Sergachev had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:53.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-19-17 Lightning at Golden Knights

Lightning come up snake eyes in first trip to Sin City.

TB-3
LV-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the loss. He was, in my mind, uncharacteristically average tonight in a game where the team in front of him really needed the bail out.

First Period
7:43 TB Stamkos (13), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
19:13 TB Namestnikov (14), (Kucherov, Hedman)(PP)

Second Period
10:07 LV Neal (17), (Perron, Theodore)(PP)
18:21 LV Marchessault (12), (Perron, Theodore)(PP)

Third Period
4:42 LV Haula (13), (Theodore, Perron)(PP)
16:08 TB Hedman (4), (Stamkos)
19:57 LV Theodore (2), (Marchessault, Haula)(PP)

Whether tonight was because of a flu big running through the team, which led to Tyler Johnson and Jake Dotchin being late scratches, or a couple of long nights on The Strip, that was the Lightning's worst effort since the debacle in Boston. That they had any opportunity at all to steal a point after Fleury's gift of a soft goal at all was mildly remarkable. The team just played a very lightweight game. Soft passes and over-stickhandling leading to a bevy of turnovers coming out of their own end and they just didn't have the puck enough to merit a victory. How they managed 38 shots on Fleury I have no clue because it seemed like they barely had the puck and what little they did they were either turning it over, icing it, or chipping it up the boards just to relieve the pressure.

With that said, awfully ticky tack call on Coburn that led to the GWG. Gallant had a minor hissy fit on a prior call on Engelland that was an absolutely appropriate call and he was rewarded with the make up whistle. In the grand scheme, the Lightning probably deserved the result they got, but in that moment that call was mildly atrocious.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:50. Didn't have a great First Period. Didn't seem to see the ice much thereafter.

Yanni Gourde had 1 blocked shot and was 44% on 9 draws in 21:33.

Mikhail Sergachev had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 1 hit in 14:11. If he's ill, that's a fair excuse, but he was brutal tonight coming out of his own end. His turnover that led to his penalty that led to Vegas' third goal would've gotten a lot of rookies benched (if not demoted). There's a line where confidence with the puck bleeds over into utter stupidity. Sergachev leapt over that boundary a few times tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-14-17 Lightning at Coyotes

Halfway to the playoffs.

TB-4
AZ-1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 33 shots for the victory. Fairly typical Vasilevskiy game. Made the odd situational save early to allow his team to run out to a lead and then handled his business through garbage time to the finish line.

First Period
11:30 TB Namestnikov (13), (Stamkos, Kucherov)(PP)
12:11 TB Point (14), (Palat, Johnson)

Second Period
6:11 TB Kucherov (22), (Hedman)
11:28 AZ Keller (12), (Stepan, Perlini)(PP)

Third Period
0:31 TB Johnson (8), (Point, Stralman)

Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

That was men against boys. It was a 4-1 game, and that's with Antti Raanta playing a pretty darned good game. It could've been a lot worse for Arizona. The Lightning got 46 shots on goal and a slew of scoring chances. Arizona just doesn't have the level of organization and confidence to deal with the speed, skill, and precision of this Lightning team. They had no chance. None. It's a far cry from the Lightning's trip to the desert a year ago that seemed to all but bury the team's playoff hopes about 50 games into the campaign or so.

The win tonight kicks off the fourth 10-game segment of the season with a win. Good start. And, it happens to give the Lightning 48 points, which puts them halfway to the minimum 96 points you target to make it to the postseason comfortably. Again, it's a remarkable contract to where this team was the last time they were in Arizona a year ago.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:21.

Yanni Gourde had 3 shots and was 40% on 10 draws in 16:26. He's traded spots with Johnson moving down to third line center.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 21:48 of big time ice time. That's a nice number. Dotchin being able to eat minutes just makes the Lightning so incredibly good.

Mikhail Sergachev was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 17:37.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-12-17 Lightning at Blues

Vasilevskiy spooks Blues, then releases the kittens.

TB-3
STL-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 32 shots he faced for the shutout victory. Pure Vasilarceny. Tampa Bay got loose at times in the final 40 minutes of the game giving up way too many odd man rushes, but you saw the Vasilevskiy phenomenon in effect. World class snipers like Tarasenko trying to cut it too fine pulling shots wide of the net left and right because Vasiy had crawled up into their heads and built a condo. The really great goaltenders do that. Vasiy is on his way.

First Period
19:15 TB Point (13), (Johnson, Killorn)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
13:37 TB Kucherov (21), (Sergachev)
19:38 TB Johnson (7), (Point, Hedman)(EN)

Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point were the game's first and second stars.

I'm not going to tell you that was the Lightning's most picturesque win. But, it's illustrative of how a really good team with skill and goaltending manufactures a road win even when they're not all the way on their A game.

The Lightning's win tonight completes the team's third 10-game segment of the campaign, which was another success. Now sitting at 46 points this year, the Lightning have banked a staggering 10 insurance points heading into segment four of the season, and they're just two points away from hitting the halfway mark of the minimum they need to comfortably make the postseason. It's all lovely and impressive, and they'll get until the next morning skate to enjoy it, because after that the mantra is clear: flush it and move on. Twelve in ten? Now do it again.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 blocked shot in 10:36. Not surprising that in a close game the staff curtailed his ice time.

Yanni Gourde had 1 hit and was 56% on 9 draws in 15:07. He's one of the guys who didn't have his most effective night tonight.

Jake Dotchin had 3 shots and 6 hits in 18:32 in a heavy game that favored his style of play. The ice time numbers are trending in a good direction.

Mikhail Sergachev had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in a pretty hefty 21:30. He had some turnover issues tonight, so it wasn't a clean game, but his possession numbers have been pretty strong the past few games. Tonight, although he only got 2 shots through, he had 10 total attempts to lead the team. That's some fancy stat-age for you all.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Syndicate content