Lightning craze

Lightning’s road to the playoffs.

Watching+Vasilevskiy+get+yet+another+shutout.
Watching Vasilevskiy get yet another shutout.

Watching Vasilevskiy get yet another shutout.

Hayley Forte

Hayley Forte

Watching Vasilevskiy get yet another shutout.

Hayley Forte, Staff Writer

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With 75 points, 36 wins and only 13 losses, the Lightning are currently holding first place in the league halfway through the season. The Lightning were 18th in the league and had only 94 points, 42 wins and 30 losses at the end of the 2016-2017 season. It was clear to the whole team that there needed to be some serious changes if they wanted to make it into the playoffs in the 2017-2018 season, and that was exactly what they did.

At the end of last season, the Lightning’s back up goal Andrei Vasilevskiy was moved up to their starting goalie. This season he leads the league in shutouts with six. To add to that, he is fourth in the league for save percentage with 93% and fourth for goals against average at 2.22. For the Lightning, this is one of the best things they could have done to help their team climb to the top of the league.

As for the offensive line, the Lightning started playing right wing Yanni Gourde at the end of the 2016-2017 season. Gourde has scored twenty goals and has nineteen assists since he started in the NHL. Nikita Kucherov, also a right wing, leads the league in points with 66 and is fourth in the league for goals scored with 27 goals, one less than the leading scorer in the NHL. He started playing in the NHL in the 2013-2014 season and has been with the Lightning since. Captain Steven Stamkos, who is also known for his outstanding slapshot, leads the NHL in assists with 35. Stamkos has been with the Lightning since he started in the NHL in 2008.

Along with any winning teams comes an outstanding defensive line. The Lightning’s defensemen also take part in scoring goals at any chance they get. Victor Hedmen, one of the most popular defensemen the Lightning hold, has scored seven goals so far this season alone. Hedmen also receives the most amount of ice time and is always put on the ice to help kill penalty time. On January 11th, Hedman was pulled from a game against the Flames due to a lower body injury. It was said that he would be out for three to six weeks, but he returned after missing just short of three weeks.

This year the Lightning had four of their players in the All-Star weekend, which was held at Amalie Arena the weekend of January 27-28th.  Andrei Vasilevskiy,  Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov were selected to participate in the game. Since Hedman could not play due to his injury, Brayden Point was selected to replace him. Not only will the Lightning have four players, but their head coach Jon Cooper will also be the head coach for the Atlantic team this year for the All-Star game.

Due to the Lightning’s improvement this season, they are off to the best start of the season in franchise history. They have also been predicted to not only make it into the Stanley Cup finals but have also been predicted to take it all the way and win the Stanley Cup this year. This will be a big step up compared to their season last year where they didn’t even get the chance to make an appearance in the playoffs.

 

 

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