We knew this Lightning team would be good, but I don’t think anyone thought the lightning would be on this record setting pace that they have been on all season.
The depth that Steve Yzerman acquired coming into the 2018-19 season is starting to pay dividends in a big way.
The forward depth is so good that Ryan Callahan who is one of the toughest and grittiest players on the team has been relegated to odd man out. Callahan did not allow that to effect his play as he scored against the Florida Panthers and had a solid game against Calgary on Tuesday night.
The defensive group has been so solid that there the Lightning have continued to carry seven defensemen most of the season. Stralman and Cernak have taken turns watching from the press box as Cooper rotates the two on a game by game basis.
It dosen’t seem to matter who plays and who doesn‘t, when the puck drops everyone is ready to go.
The Lightning are playing with a desperation not seen, maybe not ever in franchise history. So why the deperation and sense of urgency game in and game out?
The Lightning have had one goal since day one of training camp, and that is to win the Stanley Cup. Nothing else matters. Not scoring titles. Not end of season awards. Not the Presidents Trophy. Nope, the only trophy that the guys want is the Stanley Cup.
The Lightning is finally tired of being the bridesmaid. Losing to Chicago in the Cup final in 2015. Missing the playoffs entirely in 2016. Losing to Pittsburgh in the playoffs in 2017. And last year losing to Washington in the Eastern Conference finals.
The playoffs as we all know all to well are a different animal. In the past the Lightning has lacked a physical presence and gotten worn down in a seven game series.
Since the All-Star break the Lightning has been the more physical team almost every time out. They have out hit opponents and brought the physicality to the game.
This will serve them well and pay dividends come April and May.
You can’t talk about the Lightning without talking about how great the goaltending has been.
Vasilevskiy and Domingue right now are the best goaltending duo in the NHL and it is not even up for debate. Domingue has set a franchise record for ten wins in a row and what makes this more impressive is he has played in just four games since December 20th and won all four. Domingue has a 18-4 record on the season.
Five on five the Lightning is very difficult to play against and played their best game of the season five on five on Tuesday against Calgary.
The two Flame goals were scored on the power play and if there was an area that the Lightning could improve it is the penalty kill. I know they are tied for second at 84.2%, but the PK has been a little inconsistent at times this season.
The overall defense which had been a bit of concern coming into the season is now 4th in the league giving up 2.77 goals a game. Offensively The Lightning is at the top of the NHL averaging 3.84 goals a game.
It seems the Lightning is peaking in all aspects of the game at just the right time which should make opposing teams very nervous.