Lightning Stock Up, Stock Down: Kucherov, Hagel, Point & 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 finished their three-game West Coast trip with a 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks, thanks partly to Nikita Kucherov scoring the winner with 56.2 seconds remaining. After starting with a loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Lightning defeated the Anaheim Ducks, ending the road trip with a 2-1 record.

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

Finishing with two wins in three games was something that pleased head coach Jon Cooper. “I take this as a success. It’s been a tough start with all these road games we’ve played, so let’s go home and see if we can string a few together now.” The Lightning will get that opportunity with quite a few games at home. Starting with Tuesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, they will play 15 of their next 20 games at Amalie Arena.

Stock Up: The Top Line of Kucherov, Hagel & Point

With his game-winning goal, Kucherov extended his point streak to seven games and now has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) on the season. It’s the 13th time in his career that he has put together a scoring streak of seven games or more. Part of his success has come since being paired on a line with Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point. Against the Sharks, Hagel recorded his second multi-point game of the season and extended his point streak to four games, while Point picked up his third multi-point game of the year. This trio has easily been the best line on the team since being paired together.

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Stock Up: Brian Elliott

One of the keys to making sure that starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy gets the time off he needs to stay sharp is that Brian Elliott is solid in the net. The 37-year-old veteran netminder was outstanding in the Lightning’s 4-2 win over the Ducks, which included an outstanding save on Trevor Zegras that kept the game tied at 2-2. Cooper had a great deal of praise for Elliott after the game. “The big thing about goaltenders is you have to make the timely save. When the game’s on the line, it doesn’t matter if the game is 2-2 or 6-6. Are you going to make the save that’s going to keep it tied? Moose did that tonight, and the boys carried it the rest of the way home.”

Brian Elliott Tampa Bay Lightning
Brian Elliott, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Stock Down: Giving Up Too Many Shots

The Lightning rank 24th in the NHL in shots allowed, which has caused them to be outshot in most contests. They were outshot in five of their first eight games but were a little better in almost matching the Sharks in that category. They have allowed 290 shots on goal for the season, which is a bit higher than the league average of 273. Also, they have only been able to generate 278 shots themselves. Most of this issue has come from their inability to take care of the puck in many of these games, which has turned around a bit in their last four wins, including outshooting the Ducks 31-20.

Stock Up: Nick Perbix

The 24-year-old may have found a home on the second defense pairing with Mikhail Sergachev. He has played well in his first taste of the NHL and picked up his first career assist against the Ducks. He has also caught the eye of his head coach. “As tough as this league is to win in, it’s really tough to play defense in,” Cooper said after the Anaheim game. “For him to step in and have just a couple of games of pro under his belt – he’s improving. I thought he took some great strides tonight. His puck poise was excellent.” Perbix is also not afraid to use his 6-foot-2, 191-pound frame, as evidenced by his memorable hit on Matthew Tkachuk on Oct. 21 against the Florida Panthers.

Nicklaus Perbix St. Cloud State
Nicklaus Perbix, St. Cloud State (Image courtesy of St. Cloud State Athletics)

Stock Down: Cal Foote

While Perbix has made the most of his opportunity, Cal Foote cannot say the same. He was given the opportunity at the beginning of the season to skate on the first blue line tandem with Victor Hedman, but too many turnovers and inconsistent play have seen him shuffled around, and on some nights was a healthy scratch. It is also possible that Foote is still hampered by an injury suffered when he took a shot off his foot in the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 15. Either way, his game needs to improve if he wants to make regular appearances on the Lightning blue line.

Related: Lightning’s Brandon Hagel Finally Hitting His Stride

The Lightning now return home to kick off a four-game homestand on Tuesday against the Senators. On Thursday, they host the Carolina Hurricanes, while the Buffalo Sabres come to town on Saturday. They will have seven of the next eight contests being played on home ice, giving them a great opportunity to keep the momentum going that was built on a successful West Coast road trip.

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