Sergechev, Mikhail

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

Sloppy Lightning embarrass themselves in Ottawa.

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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: 1-4-18 Lightning at Canadiens

The Canadian Vasilevskiy edges out the Russian Vasilevskiy.

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MTL-2 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 1 goal on 38 shots before allowed 1 of 3 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. He might've been the only Lightning player who was prepared to play a hockey game tonight from the opening faceoff and he shouldn't feel any shame for losing such a tightly contested goaltending duel against one of the world's best.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:20 MTL Pacioretty (9), (unassisted)
1:04 TB Kucherov (26), (Stamkos, Hedman)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- NONE
MTL- Byron

Vasilevskiy was the game's second star.

In general, this game just wasn't to the Lightning's standards. Montreal came to the rink treating this game like a measuring stick for their season and their last chance to turn their campaign around. The Lightning, with the exception of Vasilevskiy, came to the rink looking groggy and a little disinterested to start the game and frankly were just too loose defensively over the course of the contest. Way too many odd man rushes. Way too many chances and shots given up. True, the Lightning got more than their fair share too, putting 45 pucks on Price's net and nearly winning in OT when Palat was robbed by a cartwheel save, but this just wasn't good enough overall.

With the Vasilarceny of a single point, the Lightning close out the fourth 10-game segment of the year with a stylish 13 insurance points in the bank. The Lightning could play .438 hockey the rest of the way this year and probably still make the postseason, so the real challenge of the second half for this team will be refining their game and making sure they keep enforcing best practices and best habits. The last couple of games haven't been great ones in that "coaching against perfection" template.

Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 14:42. He was also 56% on 9 draws. After a sleepy start I thought he had a pretty good game. Gourde will graduate from prospect status on the website with one more game played this season.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 5 blocked shots in 18:43.

Mikhail Sergachev was -1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 21:37. Not an altogether consistent effort by Sergachev, whose horrific turnover in a 4-on-4 led to Montreal's only regulation goal. He'll also graduate from prospect status on the website with one more NHL game this season.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-2-18 Lightning at Maple Leafs

Leafs trampled by kittens.

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TOR-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy raised the forcefields for a 30 save shutout. That's Vasilevskiy's second straight shutout and his third in the past four starts. He needed to be stellar tonight in a road game where the team in front of him didn't quite seem to have its A game, and he was magnificent.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
12:00 TB Paquette (1), (Kunitz)
16:54 TB Killorn (5), (Sergachev, Gourde)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Vasilevskiy, Alex Killorn, and Mikhail Sergachev were the game's three stars.

Kind of a strange game. The possession numbers favored the Lightning by a decent margin as they won shots on goal and had a slight edge in the volume of shots that were blocked/missed. With that said, I thought Toronto played a very patient and very structured game and were very dangerous on the counter where the Lightning gave up a lot of odd man chances, particularly in the Second Period. The difference, ultimately, was Andrei Vasilevskiy, who now inhabits his own wing in Mitch Marner's mansion of nightmares after tonight. Some in Vegas are making Vasilevskiy the 2:1 favorite to win the Vezina Trophy now. Let me remind you all: he's 23. If he stays healthy, we may all be bearing witness to the beginning of one of the legendary careers for a goaltender in the sport... and an X-factor that may well make the Lightning one of the Cup favorites for at least the next half decade.

This game is not without its cautionary tales, though. Toronto and some of the faster teams in the league have identified that the Lightning's right defense are a little slow-footed. Moving forward, Yzerman has the more-difficult-than-it-looks task of improving the team's right side defense, finding a faceoff ace, and also finding another ace penalty killer to address the team's weaknesses WITHOUT harming the team chemistry, which is obviously amazing at the moment.

The Lightning have now reached 60 points through 39 games. What that means is that the Lightning are now a full 10-game segment's worth of points (12) ahead of the minimum pace they need to be at to make the playoffs with one more game remaining in this segment. Even if they didn't snag a point in their last contest, they'd have to only play .450 hockey the rest of the way to punch their ticket to the postseason. Perhaps this is why some fancy stats models now give the Lightning a 100% chance of making the playoffs?

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was +1 in 14:23. He was also 50% on 6 draws.

Jake Dotchin was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:11. Big minutes for the Ontario boy playing in the ACC.

Sergachev had a helper and was +1 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots in 17:27.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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