After three games the Tampa Bay Lightning are 2-1, with four points and are first in the Southeast division. While it is all but impossible to glean much information from such a small sample of play, the Bolts are showing signs of improvement on defense and in the net.
Tampa Bay opened the season at home on Saturday night with a well earned 6-3 victory over division rival Washington. Martin St. Louis and Eric Brewer each scored two goals as the Lightning beat the Capitals and former Bolts power play guru Adam Oates’ in his head coaching debut.
Next, the Lightning traveled to Long Island to face the Islanders. After going down 4-0, Martin St. Louis, Benoit Pouliot and Steven Stamkos scored in a 5 1/2-minute span of the third period, pulling the Bolts within a goal with 12 minutes left. Two ill advised penalties by Brian Lee and Nate Thompson halted the furious comeback and the Bolts fell to goalie Evgeni Nabokov and the Islanders 4-3.
Tampa Bay traveled to Carolina to play the much improved Hurricanes for game three. Tom Pyatt and Cory Conacher scored goals early, Keith Aulie added a third period goal and the Lightning beat the Hurricanes 4-1 in their most complete two way game this season.
By The Numbers
-The Bolts are second in the NHL in scoring with 13 goals and have allowed eight goals, one over the league average, which ranks 16th in the league. While the power play certainly needs work, the Lightning are scoring 25% of the time with the extra man. The penalty kill has been good, shutting down the opposition over 81% of the time.
-Tampa Bay has been outshot 110 – 86 or on average per game 37 – 29.
-The Lightning have played physical, outhitting their opponents 56 – 50.
-The Bolts are fifth in the NHL, winning 53.5% of their faceoffs.
-Defenseman Brian Lee leads in penalty minutes with eight.
-Fifteen Lightning skaters have at least one point, while nine players have found the back of the net.
-Newly acquired defenseman Matt Carle leads in average time on ice with 22:51 minutes per game, followed by Victor Hedman with 21:11. Forwards Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are averaging over 20 minutes per game.
-The quirky statistic of the week belongs to defenseman Eric Brewer who has scored on his only two shot attempts for a shooting percentage of 100.
-Tampa Bay’s goaltending has been solid. Anders Lindback has stopped 67 of the 74 shots aimed his way for a .905 save percentage. The new Bolts goalie has a rather pedestrian 3.50 goals against average but has made the big saves and kept the Lightning in both games he has played. Mathieu Garon was impressive in his lone start versus the Carolina Hurricanes, stopping all but one of the 36 shots fired at him.
If not for a brutal second period against the Islanders, the Bolts would be 3-0 with six points. Tampa Bay is a dangerous offensive team, especially when getting secondary scoring. Vincent Lecavalier is playing at a very high level and rookie Cory Conacher has been as good as advertised. Special teams, especially the power play will become more fluent and will be the strength of the team. If goalie Anders Lindback is the real deal and the defense continues to improve, the sky’s the limit for this talented squad.
The 27 year old Jacques, played in 24 games this season with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League, accumulating five goals and seven points. He played for the Syracuse Crunch during the 2011-12 season as a member of the Anaheim Ducks organization. Jacques skated in 65 games for the Crunch collecting 40 points.
The Montreal, Quebec native has played in 166 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, scoring nine goals and totaling 17 points with 197 penalty minutes. Last season Jacques appeared in six games with the Ducks and tallied 12 penalty minutes.
Jacques was originally drafted by the Oilers in the second round, 68th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
-Prospect defenseman Slater Koekkoek, the 10th pick in the draft last year, had shoulder surgery in Detroit on Tuesday. Koekkoek is expected out for four to six months
-Vincent Lecavalier became the first Lightning player and the 280th NHL player to skate in 1,000 games. He became only the 49th player to do it all with one team.
Lecavalier’s milestone is one to be proud of. More than half of all NHL players have appeared in fewer than 100 games. For about 5 percent of players, their first NHL game was also their last. More than 20 percent of retired players appeared in just one season. The average NHL career lasts between five and six seasons. Only four percent of players skated for more than 1,000 games.
-Rookie Cory Conacher scored two points in each of his first two NHL games and had the game-winning goal for the Lightning in their 4-1 victory at Carolina. Conacher is the first player in the Tampa Bay franchise’s 20-year history to record points in each of his first three NHL games and he’s the first player on any team to do that since the Rangers‘ Stu Bickel started his career with a three-game streak in 2011.
- The Lightning outscored the Capitals 3-0 in the third period of their opening game. Forward Teddy Purcell’s three assists in the third period made him the sixth player in Tampa Bay history to record three third period assists in one game.
Let me know your thoughts on the Lightning’s start by commenting below.
Photograph courtesy Susan Ferlita.
About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?