Lightning Stock Up, Stock Down: Point, Hedman & 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 closed 2022 by winning their last games of the calendar year. Highlighting the wins was a 2-1 shootout victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday night (Dec. 29), as two of the best goaltenders on the planet combined for 84 saves on the night. Andrei Vasilevskiy had 45 saves on the night as his Ranger counterpart, Igor Shesterkin, stopped 39 shots. The Lightning also picked up a victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (Dec. 28) before closing out 2022 with a Saturday night (Dec. 31) win over the Arizona Coyotes.

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

The Lightning caught a bit of a break when their game on Dec. 23 against the Buffalo Sabres was postponed due to the impending winter storm that hit the Buffalo area. That game has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 4, at 12:30 p.m. ET. The extended holiday break came after losing their two previous games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 20 and 21. “Those two extra days were huge for us, just that chance to reset,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “Heal up a bit here, clear the mind, and the guys came back with excitement, and they showed it on Wednesday.” (Brayden Point leads Lightning to win over Montreal, Tampa Bay Times, Dec. 28, 2022)

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However, it’s worth noting that the break did come at a price, not for the Lightning, but for the people of western New York. Their “once in a generation” storm lasted over a week, starting as rain on Dec. 23, followed by plummeting temperatures, heavy lake-effect snow, and high winds. This led to wind chills as low as -30 degrees while dumping over 50 inches of snow on the region.

Stock Up: Brayden Point

No one in the NHL has been hotter than Point over the last month. Overall, he has scored in nine of his previous 11 contests, scoring 11 goals during that span. The 26-year-old found the back of the net in eight consecutive home games, setting a new Lightning franchise record and passing Nikita Kucherov’s seven-game streak during the 2021-22 season. He now has 21 goals and 16 assists on the season.

Brayden Point Tampa Bay Lightning
Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Not only has he been scoring goals, but the manner in which he has scored them has been quite spectacular at times. On Saturday’s game, he was on the receiving end of a give-and-go with Kucherov when he took the return pass off his skate and was able to bat the puck out of midair past Coyote goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Against the Canadiens, he weaved his way through traffic and put a move on defenseman Joel Edmundson before sliding the puck under his stick, setting himself up to snap a wrist shot past goaltender Jake Allen.

Stock Up: Victor Hedman

The native of Sweden picked up three assists in Saturday night’s win over the Coyotes, giving him 491 for his career, tying him with Vincent Lecavalier for the third-most in franchise history. It was the 25th game of Hedman’s career in which he collected three-plus assists, the most among active defensemen. Even more importantly, his play jumped started the Lightning after falling behind the Coyotes by two goals to start that game.

Stock Down: Struggling on the Road

The Lightning went into the Christmas break on a two-game losing streak, courtesy of the Maple Leafs and Red Wings. In both losses, the Lightning struggled to play consistent hockey. This is something that they need to correct, as eight of their first ten games in 2023 will be on the road. They have done what they needed to at home, winning seven consecutive games at AMALIE Arena and improving to 15-4-1 on home ice this season. However, if they expect to stay firmly entrenched in their playoff spot, they must play more consistently on the road.

Stock Up: Nick Perbix

The young defenseman has been a pleasant surprise this season and was recently rewarded for that effort with a two-year contract extension worth an AAV of $1.125 million. Initially not expected to start the season with the team, the 24-year-old made his NHL debut with the Lightning on Oct. 18 versus the Philadelphia Flyers and has skated in 29 games.

Nick Perbix Tampa Bay Lightning
Nick Perbix, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Perbix has three tallies and five assists on the season, which ties for second among Lightning defensemen for goals and fourth for scoring. He ranks tied for second among rookie NHL defensemen for goals and 10th for scoring. The sixth-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft had originally signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Lightning before the 2022-23 season.

Related: Lightning’s Brayden Point Should Be a 2023 All-Star

After spending most of December at home, the Lightning will take to the road for back-to-back contests with the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (Jan. 3) and Wednesday (Jan. 4) before concluding the trip on Friday night (Jan. 6) against the Winnipeg Jets. They will look to continue to try to continue the momentum from that friendly December schedule that has seen them win three straight and go 8-2 over their last ten games.

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