The Tampa Bay Lightning have exceeded all expectations in the first half with their 37-10-2 record. From their winning 15 games in a row from late November through early January, to their overcoming injuries to Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy this Lightning team has been scary good.
With their 76 points and 33 games remaining, the Lightning are on pace for 124-126 points this season which would be the the 5th best team in NHL history. This would eclipse the 113 points by last years Lightning team.
The Montreal Canadiens of 1975-1978 averaged 128 points a season and the 95-96 Detroit Red Wings put up 131 points which was 2nd best all time in NHL history. To think that this Lightning could end up in that company is pretty incredible.
The Lightning also have a couple of players who will smash some records set by the great Lightning players of yesterday.
Nikita Kucherov is having one of those seasons which he may not ever match again in his career. Kucherov has 22G and 56A and is on pace for 130 points. This would surpass the 108 points by Vincent Lecavalier during the 06-07 season which now stands as a Lightning single season record.
Braydon Point has 30G and 35A and is on pace to be the first 50 goal scorer Steven Stamkos had 51 during the 06-07 season. Stamkos also holds the team record with 60 goals set during the 11-12 season.
It probably won‘t happen during this season but early next season Andrei Vasilevskiy will pass Ben Bishop for most career wins in team history. Vasilevskiy currently has 105 career wins and would need 26 wins the rest of the season to tie Bishop and 27 wins to move past Bishop for the most wins all-time. With 33 games remaining Bishop will hang on to that record till early next season.
Vasilevskiy missed 14 games with a foot injury earlier this season and if healthy would have had a chance at breaking Bishops record this season.
The Lightning also have 5 players that are already getting some traction for the post-season awards.
Ryan McDonaugh and Victor Hedman have both been mentioned as candidates for the Norris Trophy which goes to the best defensemen. Hedman won the Norris last year, but GM Julien Breisbois says that McDonaugh is playing the best hockey of his career and should be in consideration for the Norris.
Nikita Kucherov is the leading candidate for the Art Ross Trophy which goes to the NHL’s leading scorer, and is also in the running for the Hart Memorial Trophy which goes to the MVP.
And let’s not forget about Matthieu Joseph. Joseph has been a key addition to this Lightning team using his outstanding speed and quick hands to notch 12G and 5A. Although he won‘t win the Calder Trophy which goes to the top rookie, Joseph should get some consideration.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get some consideration for the Vezina Trophy. Vasilevskiy was a finalist last year but lost out to Sergei Bobrovsky. Vasi has a 20-6 record with three shotouts and a 2.50 GAA.
A lot to celebrate for the Lightning the first half of the season and a lot to look forward to down the stretch.
The Lightning will begin the stretch run Wednesday night in Pittsburgh to take on an up and down Penguins team before heading to the Big Apple for a back to back against the Islanders and the Rangers.