The Triplets Line is the biggest reason that the Lightning have advanced to the 3rd Eastern Conference Final in team history. In 13 playoff games the line has combined for 17 goals, 14 assists, and 31 points.
Onto round 3!! Bolt fans continue to amaze!
— Tyler Johnson (@tjohnny09) May 13, 2015
Tyler Johnson leads all scorers in the playoffs for the Lightning with 8 goals and 4 assists, Kucherov is second on the team with 6 goals and 5 assists, and Palat is 5th with 3 goals and 5 assists in the playoffs. People that follow the Lightning have seen firsthand all season how well these 3 players compliment each other, but did we expect this massive production in their first playoff as a line? It’s amazing that when the games have gotten tighter checking, this line has elevated their game even more, and they have already tied a few individual playoff records in the process.
Johnson and Kucherov tie Ruslan Fedotenko
Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov have each tied Ruslan Fedotenko’s record for most goals in a playoff series with 6 by a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ruslan Fedotenko of course set that record during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup season in 2004. Fedotenko scored 6 goals and 4 power-play goals in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. In the 2004 Stanley Cup Final Fedotenko would go on to score both goals in a 2-1 Game 7 victory against the Calgary Flames. Enjoy the throwback video below.
Johnson scored his 6 goals in the first round against the Detroit Red Wings. He saved the Tampa Bay Lightning season in Game 4 when the team was trailing 2-1 in the series. With the Red Wings looking to be in control of a 2-0 game late in the 3rd, Tyler Johnson used his incredible speed and quick release to cut the deficit in half. Johnson recieved the pass from Anton Stralman from behind the red line and beat Darren Helm to the net before roofing the puck. Minutes later with the Lightning starring down a devastating 3-1 series deficit, it was Johnson who stepped up again. Johnson sent a beautiful pass in front to the steaking Ondrej Palat, who started the play, and tied the game at 2. In overtime again it was Johnson with the clutch performance, as he finished a 2-on-1 with Victor Hedman to even this series and give the Lightning momentum in the series.
Nikita Kucherov scored his 6 goals all in the 2nd round against the Montreal Canadiens. Kucherov also scored an overtime winner these playoffs as well. Kucherov scored his second career playoff goal and first of this postseason in Game 1 against Montreal in double overtime.
His game continues to improve in leaps and bounds. Coach Cooper pointed out that Kucherov was not a player who spent much time in the AHL, so he really has done his developing all at the NHL level. Kucherov’s speed, quick release, hockey smarts, and developing two-way game makes him a very good hockey player. At 21-years-old, the youngest player on the Triplets Line, continues to impress.
Triplets Get Compared to the Sedins
After the Tampa Bay Lightning win last night Keith Jones make a comment on NBC Sports about how the Triplets Line playing style reminds him of the Sedin twins. Jones refered to the fact that the Triplets play incredibly well off each other, with give-and-go plays,and always seem to know where each other is going to be on the ice. That is a very high compliment for this group considering how young they are and the fact that they are all still players that are developing and are going to get better each season.
One thing that I see when comparing the Triplets to the Sedins is that both lines are great at creating their own offense with exceptional passing, puck movement, and the ability to hold onto the puck in the offensive zone.
Who Can Stop These Guys?
So far the answer has been nobody. One thing I do know is that for this line, their toughest task of the season is about to present itself whether they face the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals. If the team faces the New York Rangers I fully expect to see a battle between 2nd lines that have been catalysts for their teams. The Rangers 2nd line features Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, and rookie Jesper Fast. Stepan is one of the most underrated defensive centers in the entire National Hockey League. When you take that with the all-around developing game of power-forward Chris Kreider, who is always at his best this time of year, the Triplets will be in for a tough task. Washington could try to answer with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s line with gritty Jason Chimera and speedy Markus Johansson. The Caps could also decide to give that task of stopping the Triplets to the 3 B’s line of Brouwer, Beagle, and Burakovsky. The Washington 3rd line has been excellent this playoff and produced the winning goals in Games 3 and 4 of this series against the New York Rangers.
One thing that is certain is that whoever Tampa Bay plays in the Eastern Conference Finals, it is going to be a great series. Will it be the speed and transition of the New York Rangers or the heavy game of the Washington Capitals? Stay Tuned.
I am a 2015 graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey. I have coached ice hockey at the high school level for two seasons here in NJ. I will be covering the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward for The Hockey Writers.