The Tampa Bay Lightning, off to the best in Franchise history, are in South Florida to play the Florida Panthers in a two-game series before returning to Amalie to play the Panthers on Monday night.
Another Tampa team has overshadowed the Lightning 9-1-1 start, the Buccaneers winning their Super Bowl. Now that football is behind us, the attention will shift to the Lightning.
The 9-1-1 start ties the 2017-18 Lightning for the best start in franchise history.
The keys to the great start have been many.
Anthony Cirelli is off to the best start in his career, averaging a point a game with six goals and four assists.
Cirelli has always had a good reputation as an excellent defensive forward, but now, his game’s offensive part is starting to catch up to his defensive game.
The Lightning has been the best defensive team in the league to start the season. The Bolts are giving up 1.82 goals a game. It seems they have picked up right where they left off in Edmonton in their Stanley Cup playoff run.
The third line of Yanni Guarde, Blake Coleman, and Barclay Goodrow, the checking line, had a great start to the season and have made life difficult for the opposition.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is off to his usual start between the pipes. Vasilevskiy has played in nine of the ten Lightning games and has a 1.80 goals-against average.
In addition to the Lightning’s excellent defense, they have also proven they can score goals quickly.
In Nashville Tuesday night, The Lightning trailed 1-0 before exploding for three goals in two minutes and 34 seconds to take a 3-1 lead. The Lightning never looked back and put the Predators away, winning 6-1.
This three-game series with the Panthers will be the toughest of the season for the Lightning.
Joel Quenneville is behind the bench in Florida, and he has the Panthers using their team speed to create scoring chances in the offensive zone.
The Lightning will be saying hello to two former teammates Carter Verhaeghe and Anton Stralman.
Verhaeghe signed a two year two million dollar contract with the Panthers and has exceeded expectations in Florida.
Verhaeghe has six goals to start the season and has earned playing time on the top line with Alexsander Barkov and Anthony Duclair.
The Lightning will have to adjust their line combinations as the captain Steven Stamkos is out with a lower-body injury and is listed as day to day.
Along with the Dallas Stars, the Panthers and the Lightning will battle it out to be the best team in the division this season. The game Thursday night is the first of eight meetings with the Panthers this season.