The Tampa Bay Lightning are as sure and elemental as the pre-Christmas wind storm that annihilated power for tens of thousands on the West Coast. They took to the coast with similar meticulousness, exacting three wins on a four-game swing and walking away with seven points.
The road swing gave many an opportunity to take a close look at the Lighting and there is a lot to like.
Tampa defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a final score of 6-3 on Saturday, putting them on a 12-game point streak. Only the Winnipeg Jets felled the mighty Lightning on the trip, but the mighty Lightning still grabbed a point. They’re 14-1-1 in their last 16 games.
Steven Stamkos scored twice against the Oilers, bringing his total goals this season to 20. Nikita Kucherov is the leader in scoring with 57 points, including 16 goals, while Brayden Point is second with 47.
Tyler Johnson is enjoying a tremendous season with 27 points in 36 games. He floated to ninth place on the Lightning’s all-time scoring list. Not bad stuff for a 28-year-old kid from Spokane.
What’s ridiculous here is how much Tampa is scoring.
People are rightly comparing them to the Oilers from the 1980s. That may sound extreme, but adjusted comparatively it’s not that much of a stretch. The Lightning are on pace for a shocking 128 points and have scored 156 goals this season so far. Nobody else is really even close. Toronto has scored 135 goals going into Sunday.
Now, the thing to watch here is how the cap impacts this team. This could be Tampa’s year to win it all (I’d make that bet right now) and that’s going to put things in perspective when the summer months hit. The Lightning have enormous contract jumps for Kucherov and Yanni Gourde set to kick in, plus Ryan McDonagh has a bit of a rise coming.
Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn and Dan Girardi are all pending UFAs, while goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a year to go before the 24-year-old will be up for what you have to imagine will be a huge raise.
Getting their goaltender that big raise will be a big priority, too, especially if the Lightning lift the silver cup this season.
Like most NHL teams in the cap era, success can be a short-term prospect. And things can turn on a dime. Just ask the Blackhawks or Kings. This manifestation of the Tampa Bay Lightning have the right pieces in the right places, even if their defence seems set to take a hit, and that should keep the goals coming as fast and furious as a West Coast windstorm.