This is the time of year when teams make that move towards the playoffs by raising the level of their play or through a trade or series of trades to try to make that push for the playoffs.
The Lightning had a playoff spot secured in January as they went from late November to early January without a loss and built a comfortable lead over the second place team in the conference.
Now that the All-Star break is over, the competition gets tougher. The games get tighter, the defense begins to take center stage over the offense, and the scoring decreases.
The Lightning had three really tough games last week, winning two out of three on the road against the Islanders and Rangers. The only loss coming in their first game back after the All-Star break against the Penguins. These games are the kind of games the Lightning will play in the playoffs and the kind of games the Lightning will have to win if they want to raise Lord Stanley’s cup in June.
The Lightning seemed to really amp up the physical aspect of their game as they were the more aggressive team in all three games.
In the game against the Islanders AndreI Vasilevskiy was outstanding stopping 41 shots and playing great in a short handed situation in OT to keep the game scoreless.
Against Vegas a home last night, Vasilevskiy was again outstanding as stopped 37 of 39 shots in a 3-2 shootout loss. Without the outstanding play of Vasilevskiy the game would have never made it to OT.
At Madison Square Garden on Saturday Louis Domingue was outstanding in goal as he won his ninth game in a row in a 3-2 win over the Rangers.
I’ve said it before, this 2019 team is the best team in Lightning history. In all three phases of the game offense, defense, and goaltending there are no weaknesses on this team.
Like all teams, the Lightning have a few things to improve on. Most notably the defense and the PK.
Julien BriseBois has said he will look to improve the team if he can before the trade deadline on February 25th.
It has been reported that the Lightning has inquired about Flyers F Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds would bring a toughness to this group of forwards which has been lacking for some time.
Simmonds would bring an added physical presence and toughness to this Lightning team.
The Lightning have 13 forwards on the roster and Ryan Callahan was told that he will be the odd man out most nights as the Lightning will go with Joseph, Cirelli, and Erne over Callahan.
This does not seem like it will have a happy ending as it looks like the Ryan Callahan era may be coming to end in Tampa.
I’m satisfied with this Lightning team the way it is built right now. Every night it seems that someone else is stepping up and making a play at just the right moment to help this Lightning team win a game.
The Lightning were sloppy in the 3-2 SO loss to Vegas. Passing was not crisp, Stamkos missed a couple of wide open looks at the net, and there were a couple of defensive miscues by Sergachev and Coburn.
Credit Vegas for getting the Lightning off their game a bit. The Lightning will get the opponents best punch from now till the end of the season.
It will be a Playoff type game for any team the Lightning will play. This is a good thing though as the Lightning getting battle tested now for the playoffs will only pay dividends in April and May.