The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoying life at the top. They sit first in the NHL standings and look to stay there. The team is 26-7-2 and shows no signs of slowing down. Forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos lead the team in points (Kucherov 51 points, 24 goals, 27 assists in 35 games played and Stamkos with 45 points, 13 goals, and 32 assists.) They set up their linemates with many scoring opportunities. This is especially true of Stamkos. He has fewer goals and nearly twice as many assists.
Brayden Point and Vladislav Namestnikov are also big contributors. Those two round out the top four for team points. Without question, this team is dominating the scoreline and the NHL. The Vegas Golden Knights with 23 wins in 34 games are the closest team with 23 wins, but their success has been built on home ice. The Lightning can and do win anywhere that they play.
Tampa Bay Lightning Enjoying Life At The Top
The Lighting is winning as a team and having fun doing it. They are able to score at will and their +46 goal differential is there to prove it. However, when you dig deeper you find that their goalies are shutting other teams down. On offense, Stamkos is in the driver’s seat as the team nears a team record for a nine-game home win streak. Currently, the team has seven wins. With the struggling Montreal Canadiens and the recently hot Philadelphia Flyers coming to town that goal seems to be within their grasp. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy shoulders the team netminding responsibilities. His skill makes it difficult for opposing teams to find the back of the net. His remarkable 23-5-0-1 record is the foundation for Lightning’s potent offensive attack. He consistently makes highlight-worthy stops. With a netminder like that, it is no wonder that the Lightning is confident on the puck.
Having Fun – Playing As A Team
What is the secret to the success of the Lightning? Without question, Kucherov and his ability to score goals and set up linemates are at the core of that success. In a recent interview on NHL.com (as translated by Natalia of RawCharge), he said the following about playing with so many fellow Russsian players. “It’s always good to see your guys from Russia here. We have a good team, and the Russian guys are good; we’re always laughing, always positive, and the atmosphere is great in the locker room and on the ice. We cheer each other up if something isn’t going well, support each other and try to always work hard.”
Grinding Out The Tough Wins
Seemingly the team has bought into that mentality. They currently sit on top of the NHL and give no quarter to opponents. Their win versus the Minnesota Wild went well into the third before the team scored three quick goals, to finish 3-0. Kucherov said this regarding the drive to succeed. “We try not to think about it and just do our best at every game, sometimes gnaw out those points–doesn’t matter two or one. Even if the game is going badly, we try to overcome it and at least get a point out of it.” Like all great teams, the Lightning finds a way to win even when it seems unlikely.
Unsung Heroes And Underrated Players
Certainly, the team play of Stamkos is not underrated, yet it does set the tone for the rest of the team. Stamkos draws defensemen with him and subsequently sets his line-mates up for shots on goal. Though not underrated his team-first attitude and play continues to pay dividends. His uncanny ability to set others up results in better scoring opportunities for the Lightning. One of his targets has been the underrated and unsung Namnestikov, currently ranked fourth in total points for the Lightning (35 games played, 15 goals and 16 assists.) He has been playing in the shadow of Kucherov, Stamkos, and Point but has recently proven himself as a threat. With the offense clicking, stingy defense and a stellar netminder the Lightning look to keep the top spot in the NHL barring injury this team is set to make a run to the Stanley Cup final.
NEWARK, NJ – FEBRUARY 26: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning shutout the Devils 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)