Lightning Stock Up, Stock Down: Hagel, Kucherov & More

Welcome to this edition of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stock Up and Stock Down, a weekly column detailing the highs and lows of the team’s performance. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning had an excellent week, starting with back-to-back victories on the road against the New Jersey Devils. After a convincing 4-1 win on Tuesday (Mar 14), they faced the Devils again on Thursday and captured a 5-4 shootout victory. They then returned home for back-to-back games, starting with a 5-3 win on Saturday (Mar 16) against the Montreal Canadiens before facing the Devils for the third time on Sunday in a 5-2 loss.

Tampa Bay Lightning Stock up, Stock down
Tampa Bay Lightning Stock up, Stock down (The Hockey Writers)

Despite the loss, it was a successful week, especially with three games against the playoff-bound Devils. “If I’m going to big picture this and say we played Jersey three times in (six) nights and got four of six points, we’re taking that,” head coach Jon Cooper said after Sunday’s game. “A little hiccup here, but let’s strap the boots back on, go to Montreal, and get some more points.”

Stock Up: Brandon Hagel

A year after acquiring the 24-year-old from the Chicago Blackhawks, Hagel continues to deliver for the Lightning. In the win against the Canadiens, he scored in each period to net his second career hat trick, which came in his 200th game and marked the first anniversary of the trade that brought him to Tampa Bay.

Related: 3 Lightning Who Need to Step Up the Rest of the Season

The jack-of-all-trades forward continues to show his versatility but really flourished when he was recently reunited on a line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, scoring four goals and six points.

Stock Up: Nikita Kucherov

On Sunday, the 29-year-old scored his 100th point of the season with a goal in the first period against the Devils. He became the sixth active player to record three or more 100-point seasons, joining Connor McDavid (six), Sidney Crosby (six), Leon Draisaitl (four), Alex Ovechkin (four), and Evgeni Malkin (three).

Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Kucherov also picked up two assists in the win over the Canadiens, for 72 on the season, which is second in the NHL, behind McDavid with 76. He is now also on a four-game point streak. While McDavid is a virtual shoo-in to win the Hart Trophy, Kucherov should receive some consideration. For the past five seasons, the former Hart winner has been a league leader in points per game and is still a clutch player.

Stock Down: Lightning Second Periods

The Lightning have been outscored 79-74 in the second period this season and have also been outshot 805-745. For whatever reason, the team has some difficulty maintaining focus after the first intermission. Against the Canadiens, they overcame a deficit and a shaky second period to claim victory. That was not the case against the Devils, who are the best road team in the NHL with a 26-5-4 record.

Stock Up: Alex Killorn

Before the weekend, Killorn had 13 points in 14 games and 30 shots. Over the weekend, he added a goal and an assist to bring his season point total to 54, which puts him on pace to reach the 60-point mark for the first time in his career. He recently scored his 20th of the season against the Winnipeg Jets (Mar 12) – the third time in his 11-year career that he’s reached that mark.

Alex Killorn Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The 33-year-old should generate more offense now that Tanner Jeannot has been added to his line along with frequent linemate Anthony Cirelli. While Jeannot has not made much of an offensive impact, his presence has taken some pressure and attention away from Killorn and Cirelli. These three are also usually matched up against the opposition’s top lines and have been very good at minimizing their impact.

Stock Up: Fighting Through a Tough March Schedule

The Lightning have already played 16 games in March and have played the most games in the NHL since the All-Star break. This includes back-to-back games on consecutive weekends and eight games on the road this month, including their next four contests. Overall, the veteran squad has done well with such a tough schedule and will experience some bumps in the road as they work through it.

The Lightning’s four-game road trip starts on Tuesday (Mar 21) against the Canadiens. They will then face the Ottawa Senators on Thursday (Mar 23) before taking on the league-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday (Mar 25). Tampa Bay will get a slight respite with two days off before concluding their road trip against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 28.