It has been over a month, but we are BACK in the Eastern Conference for this edition of the Weekly Lost & Found! We’ll make two stops between the Metropolitan Division and Atlantic Division, looking at two playoff teams there who are trending in opposite directions.
One team has seen a dip in play, and have been active ahead of the trade deadline, while the other looks to keep rolling with their aging core and take another stab at the Stanley Cup. Let’s get going.
Lost: Tampa Bay Lightning Struggle Through March
The Tampa Bay Lightning ended February winning five of six games, but have gone just 5-for-10 thus far in March. While they went 2-1 this past week, the overall trend is a negative one. Their wins came against teams outside of a playoff position, and their loss came against a playoff team, the New York Rangers, with just 16-seconds left in regulation.
Over this 10-game span, they hold a minus-2 goal differential, having allowed 30 while scoring 28. It’s a surprise, considering the offensive weapons they possess and the stellar abilities of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. He has played in eight games, winning four, and allowed 22 goals with a .910 save percentage (SV%). He’s played well, the team just isn’t giving him the goal support he’s accustomed to.
The Lightning are top-10 in the NHL in goals-for per game played (GF/GP), averaging 3.33 GF/GP. Captain Steven Stamkos and star Nikita Kucherov have combined for 15 points over the past 10 games, but only four goals.
They converted on just under 22% of power plays, while killing 85% of penalties against. They were better marks then the team’s season averages, but still, they sat at just .500. Of their five wins, all were against teams outside the playoff picture.
Given the state of the Eastern Conference, the Lightning have nothing to worry about when it comes to losing a few more games than they’d like, save for seeding. However, things won’t get easier to kick off this week. They’ll head on the road for four more games, after playing most of the month on the road already.
They’ll play two playoff teams, one being the Boston Bruins, who’ve been playing well themselves recently. Following, they’ll take on two non-playoff teams that they should look to capitalize on. All in all, they’ll be fine down the stretch and heading into the playoffs.
Found: Washington Capitals Regain Form on Recent Hot Streak
The Washington Capitals have been buzzing of late, winning seven out of their last 10 games, including three-of-four this week, and seeing two winning streaks of at least three games. While four of these games have required either overtime or a shootout, that’s fine as they’re still finding ways to win.
They’ve put 41 goals on the board, while allowing just 29, and have seen strong special teams play. Their power play is clicking at just over 35%, and their penalty kill is nullifying opponents’ power plays at just under 83% over that 10-game span. Both totals are higher than their season averages.
The man who leads the way is the same guy who’s done it for the past 17 years: Alexander Ovechkin. He’s tallied eight goals and 13 points in his past 10 games. His 40 goals place him among the NHL’s top-five goal scorers, and it’s the 12th time he’s hit the milestone in his career.
Vitek Vanecek has been patrolling the crease for most of this recent run, and he’s been enjoying some strong play on top of a strong year. He’s won six of eight games, and allowed 18 goals while holding a .925 SV%. He looks to be on pace for a career year.
An interesting note is just how successful they’ve been on the road this season. They’ve traveled to 32 games and won 20, including 4-of-5 on this recent stretch. They earned at least a point in each game.
The Capitals will face three teams this week, but just one will be a playoff team, when the St. Louis Blues come to town. They look to be relatively safe in their playoff spot, despite being in a wild card position, given how the rest of the conference shapes up. They should keep taking advantage of non-playoff matchups because almost anything is possible when it comes to hockey, let alone the postseason.
The Lightning may be “Lost” in this Weekly Lost & Found edition, but they could very well right the ship. They’ve been very active at the trade deadline, acquiring players such as Nick Paul. Meanwhile, the Capitals need to stick with what’s been working. They’ve seen some key players lost to injury, and it looks like T.J. Oshie has been hit with the injury bug again, but need to find a way to keep their strong play going.
Be sure to stick with The Hockey Writers for coverage on these teams, the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and more.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.