Thanks to their 6-3 victory over the Boston Bruins Saturday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied an NHL record with 62 wins during the regular season.
This ties the Lightning with the 1995-1996 edition of the Detroit Red Wings. That roster featured the likes of Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and Vyacheslav Kozlov, along with Paul Coffey and Nicklas Lidstrom.
“Sixty-two is a number that’s only been touched once and for a team that’s kind of been locked into a playoff spot for quite some time, to be able to bring it every single night, to continue to find a way to get that number is a credit to the players and staff,” Tampa head coach Jon Cooper said. “We didn’t sit there and circle 62 and say that’s going to be our number, but it’s kind of cool that we actually got to that number.”
For Tampa Bay, the leaderboard features one Nikita Kucherov. Thanks to his goal and an assist on Saturday, he broke Alex Mogilny’s single season record for most points by a Russian-born NHLer. Kucherov put the wraps on the regular season with 41 goals and 87 assists, setting him up for the Art Ross Trophy and presumably the Hart Trophy.
“Definitely a special moment for me,” Kucherov said. “Thanks to everybody in the room and thanks for the guys helping me out. Without them, definitely wouldn’t be where I am right now. It’s a team effort. Everybody’s involved in my success.”
Also, his 128 points top salary cap era scoring. Joe Thornton had a 125-point season in 2005-2006, but Kucherov’s eclipsed that and set the NHL’s highest point total since Mario Lemieux came up with 161 points in 1995-1996. Super Mario needed just 70 games to accomplish that feat, by the way.
But back to business: the Lightning finish the regular season with a 62-16-4 record and have to be Stanley Cup favourites considering how dominant they’ve been all year. They were even dominant on the road, where they won 30 games. The only team to do that before was the Red Wings, 2005-2006 edition.
When the playoffs begin, the Lightning will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round and the quest will begin to find a weakness in Tampa’s game. That’s no easy feat.
True, they cough up turnovers in the neutral zone thanks to a propensity to try out some skill plays to gain zone access. That’s something, right?
Not really. Tampa Bay actually leaves the season with the lowest turnover rate in the offensive zone, which means they can hold the puck when it matters and maintain pressure. That’s evidenced in achieving 62 wins. When the Lightning get going, they’re hard or maybe even impossible to beat. Every metric seems to back that up.
(Photo credit: NHL)