Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning's season had many problems


The Lightning put on a good show at home, tying a franchise mark with 25 wins at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. ¶ Had the team showed the same spunk on the road, it might be in the playoffs. Its 13-22-6 road record that yielded 32 points, fewest in the Eastern Conference, will be the legacy of the 2011-12 team. ¶ More than the debilitating 308 man-games lost to injury that forced it at one point to use a lineup with seven players who this season spent time in the AHL; more than the emotional upheaval caused when general manager Steve Yzerman on three straight game days traded Domi­nic Moore, Pavel Kubina and Steve Downie; and more than the season-ending March 6 groin injury to goalie Mathieu Garon, after which the team, in the thick of the playoff race, went 1-5-1 to become an also-ran. ¶ Want more best and worst? Here is the season in review:

MVP C Steven Stamkos

Devils coach Peter DeBoer called Stamkos "maybe the best scorer to come along in the last 20-25 years." Stamkos is just the 20th NHL player to score 60 goals, and his 97 points are a career high. At this point, there is not much more to be said about the 22-year-old superstar, so we'll let the numbers (with league ranking) do the talking:

Goals: 60 (1st)

Points: 97 (2nd)

Winning goals: 12 (tied 1st)

Even-strength goals: 48 (1st)

Home goals: 36 (1st)

Average ice time: 22:07 (1st among centers)

Overtime goals: 5 (NHL record)

Goals since 2009-10: 155 (1st)

Most rewarding stat

9 Victories when trailing entering the third period; that led the league and brought to mind John Belushi's line from the movie Animal House: "Nothing is over until we decide it is."

Most ridiculous stats

2, 12 Shorthanded goals, tied with the Red Wings for fewest in the league, and shorthanded goals allowed, one fewer than the league-worst Devils.

Not-so-special stats

15.2, 79.2

The Lightning tied for 25th in the league with a 15.2 percent power play and was 26th with a 79.2 percent penalty kill. Last season, the power play was sixth (20.5 percent), the penalty kill eighth (83.8 percent) and the team went to the East final.

Losing control

A 48.6 winning percentage, 23rd in the league, "was one of the reasons we didn't win some games," said Steven Stamkos, whose 45.5 winning percentage (42.9 in his last 14 games) wasn't good, either.

Game to remember

Lightning 3, Rangers 2 (shootout): Dec. 8 at Madison Square Garden began with center Dominic Moore's errant morning-skate backhander hitting Marty St. Louis in the left eye. Orbital bone damage and vision problems sidelined St. Louis, who had played in 499 straight games. Moore, left, redeemed himself with the tying goal with 1:03 left in the third — a backhander from the same spot he hit St. Louis — and the winning shootout goal.

Game to forget

Canadiens 5, Lightning 2: The April 4 contest at the Bell Centre was a microcosm of all that went wrong on the road. A slow start, sloppy passing, missed defensive coverages and 10 shots on goal in the last two periods combined.

Stat pack

Defenseman Brett Clark was second in the league with 199 blocked shots. … Right wing Teddy Purcell had a career-best 24 goals, and his 65 points are the most by a player from Newfoundland. … Right wing Adam Hall did not have enough faceoffs to qualify as a league leader, but his 59.5 winning percentage was better than No. 1 Jonathan Toews (59.4) of Chicago. … Defenseman Victor Hedman had a career-best five goals. … Defenseman Eric Brewer led the team with 23:16 average ice time. … Rookie right wing Brett Connolly had four goals but went his final 50 games without one. … Center Vinny Lecavalier's 22 goals were his fewest since 2001-02.

Follow the money

Unrestricted free agents: Forwards — Adam Hall, Ryan Shannon, Tim Wallace. Defensemen — Brett Clark, Mike Commodore, Bruno Gervais. Goaltenders — Sebastien Caron, Dwayne Roloson.

Restricted free agents: Forward — J.T. Wyman. Defensemen — Keith Aullie, Brian Lee, Brendan Mikkelson.

Signed for next season: Forwards — J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Teddy Purcell, Tom Pyatt, Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson, Dana Tyrell. Defensemen — Marc-Andre Bergeron, Eric Brewer, Victor Hedman, Mattias Ohlund. Goaltender — Mathieu Garon. Buyout — Vinny Prospal.

Salary committed for 2012-13: $48.095 million

Nicest surprise C Tom Pyatt

Pyatt's 12 goals were 10 more than his previous high. He was tireless on defense, his 2:12 average shorthanded ice time third among Lightning forwards.

Shooting star award RW Teddy Purcell

He either shined brightly or disappeared. Purcell had three goals in 29 games from Nov. 9-Jan. 13; 12 goals and 31 points in 24 games from Jan. 15-March 8; and, before his season-ending hat trick, one goal in 15 games. "He's got to trust his shot," coach Guy Boucher said.

Energizer award RW Marty St. Louis

With 25 goals, St. Louis, who turns 37 in June, scored at least 20 for the ninth straight season. And his 22:52 average ice time was second in the league among forwards. He celebrated his 900th NHL game with a hat trick in a 6-3 win over the Panthers on Feb. 4.

Biggest disappointment G Dwayne Roloson

Roloson, 42, the league's oldest player, posted a 3.66 goals-against average and .886 save percentage, both last in the league among goalies with at least 20 games. He was 14-16-2 in 40 games but had a miniresurgence at the end, going 5-2-1 with a 3.27 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. The surge, he said, was because he broke from some drills favored by goaltenders coach Frantz Jean. But there were too many holes to be blamed solely on "static" versus "momentum" drills.

Lightning-Blackhawks: Tampa Bay is killing it on penalty-killers

Lightning-Blackhawks: Tampa Bay is killing it on penalty-killers

BRANDON — A successful penalty kill begins long before the offending Lightning player, whistled two minutes earlier for some infraction, leaves the box with the score unchanged.It begins with a detailed scouting report of the opposing team’s power pl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning impressed with improved offense from defensemen

Lightning impressed with improved offense from defensemen

BRANDON — At one point during Saturday’s game against the Islanders, the Lightning was first in the NHL in points and second in points scored by its defensemen. That’s one reason the team is off to the best start in franchise history.It’s also by des...
Published: 11/20/17
Lightning’s rare loss produces reality check

Lightning’s rare loss produces reality check

TAMPA — Jon Cooper stood at the podium late Saturday night to address the media after a regulation loss for only the third time this season."Let’s be honest," he said, "we’ve had one hell of a start."The loss, he added, was frustrating, even when you...
Published: 11/19/17
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Published: 11/18/17
Lightning journal: Jon Cooper thrilled with stellar start

Lightning journal: Jon Cooper thrilled with stellar start

TAMPA — If you told coach Jon Cooper his team would open the season with wins in 15 of the first 19 games, well, "I’m not sure I can sit here and say I would have predicted that," he said Saturday morning.But the Lightning did just that to lead the N...
Published: 11/18/17
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Islanders

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Islanders

This is what happens when you have the best record in the league: You get the best from the other team. The Islanders came out strong and the Lightning couldn’t match it, falling behind 4-0 early in the third. For the most part, the Lightning has bee...
Published: 11/18/17
Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

TAMPA — It’s still way early, but if the Lightning’s record start continues, there will be a lot of hardware up for grabs. And we’re not just talking about the Stanley Cup. Nikita Kucherov has league MVP written all over him. Andrei Vasilevskiy coul...
Published: 11/18/17

Red-hot Lightning leading NHL in more than wins

Nikita Kucherov, top left, celebrates with teammate Steven Stamkos (91) after scoring against Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer. [AP photo]The Lightning (15-2-2) enters tonight’s game against the visiting Islanders (10-6-2) leading the leagu...
Published: 11/18/17
Brayden Point becomes ‘the heartbeat’ of the Lightning

Brayden Point becomes ‘the heartbeat’ of the Lightning

TAMPA — A local TV crew set up shop in front of Brayden Point’s locker stall the other day, waiting for the Lightning forward to be ready.Then, captain Steven Stamkos walked into the room for his scrum. It didn’t take long for the TV crew to change c...
Published: 11/17/17
Lightning pummels Stars for fifth straight win

Lightning pummels Stars for fifth straight win

TAMPA — The Lightning welcomed Ben Bishop back with a classy, fitting video tribute in Thursday’s first period. The sellout crowd of 19,092 at Amalie Arena gave Bishop, the greatest goalie in franchise history, a standing ovation. It was an emotional...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17