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.
It was certainly a very interesting week for the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a very poor performance in losing their home opener to the Philadelphia Flyers, they rebounded quite nicely in defeating the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders in back-to-back games. Those two wins put the Lightning at .500 on the young season while hopefully jumpstarting what has been sub-par performances to this point.
Even if the Lightning have not played to their capabilities, the wins were especially important to reverse a situation that head coach Jon Cooper had described as “leaking oil.” While not pretty to watch, the wins demonstrated that the team still has some tenacity to win games that saw them overcome the shortcomings that plagued them since the beginning of the season.
Stock Up: Steven Stamkos
Despite being kept off the sheet in the Islanders game, Steven Stamkos has had an excellent start to the season. His goal against the Panthers made him the first player in franchise history to score seven goals through the first five games of a season. It is probably good that he has been so hot, as the 32-year-old had been the only consistent goal scorer throughout the season’s first two weeks. Going into Sunday’s games, he is the leading goal scorer in the NHL.
Stock Down: Lightning Missing Their “A-Game”
Cooper has not minced words when talking about how his team is playing to start the season and how fortunate they are to be .500 at this point. “We didn’t execute. I thought we were extremely opportunistic. You’re going to have to grind out some points when you don’t have your ‘A’ game, and we did that (Saturday night).” It is still a bit of a mystery why the Lightning have not played well. While some new faces are on the roster, most of the team has played together for a while. Cooper and many players have pointed to lack of execution on 5v5 play as one of the biggest issues. While doing better in their last two wins, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Stock Up: A Healthy Brayden Point
It was not an understatement to say that the Lightning missed Brayden Point during last year’s playoffs after he tore his quad in the Game 7 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now fully healthy and shaking off some rust, the 26-year-old was a huge factor in the two wins over the weekend. He had two goals, including the overtime winner, against the Panthers. The first goal tied the game and allowed the Lightning to get to overtime. The seven-year veteran also scored a goal and picked up an assist against the Islanders. Getting Point going will be one of the factors that could eventually allow the Lightning to play like they are capable of playing.
Stock Down: Lightning Giving Up Too Many Shots
Despite the win, Saturday night’s (Oct. 22) game against the Islanders is indicative of what has been a major issue with the Lightning this season. In that contest, the Islanders outshot the Lightning 36-26. In addition, the Isles held a shot attempt advantage of 72-46. Much of this was caused by the Lightning having problems getting the puck out of their own defensive end. Two of the Islanders’ goals resulted from Lightning turnovers in their own end. Their inability to take care of and control the puck was evident in the third period, as the Lightning were held without a shot in the first half of that frame. This has been happening quite a bit this season. They have allowed 209 shots on goal so far, which is well above the league average of 170.
Stock Up: Alex Killorn
While we are on the subject of scoreless streaks, Killorn broke a 33-game scoreless streak against the Islanders. After the game, he told the media, “I wasn’t going to be denied. I shot it probably as hard as I’ve ever shot a puck, so happy with that.” Cooper, whose time with Killorn goes all the way back to their American Hockey League (AHL) days in Norfolk and Syracuse, noted that the 33-year-old had been a contributor in other ways during the scoreless streak. “Killer’s been exceptional for us in a lot of areas on the ice. On the penalty kill, puck possession – there’s been so many good things.”
Next week’s Stock Up, Stock Down may be interesting as the Lightning face the difficult task of heading to California for a three-game road trip that starts on Tuesday (Oct. 25) in Los Angeles against the Kings. They will play another back-to-back with a game against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday (Oct. 26) before finishing the road trip against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday (Oct. 29).
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Jim Bay writes about the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators for THW. A retired Special Education Teacher, Jim enjoys writing about hockey and all sports when he is not slashing his way around local golf courses. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Jim on Twitter. (https://twitter.com/baysports007)