We knew they’d be good.
We knew they had a good offense and good goaltending.
But we had no idea they would be great…prodigious even.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are quietly steamrolling towards a Stanley Cup run for the ages,
Tampa Bay is an incredible 32-7-2 with 66 points, 12 more than their closest pursuer in the Atlantic Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For the fourth consecutive week the NHL has ranked the Bolts the unanimous (14 writers) number one in its power rankings and why not? They’re 15-0-1 in 16 games since November 29. They haven’t lost in regulation since November 27 and have lost in regulation seven times in 41 games this season.
The NHL-leading Lightning have earned at least one point in 16 consecutive games — the longest streak in the league this season.
Nikita Kucherov is on fire, accumulating 51 points (13 goals, 38 assists) in 23 games since November15. The forward has the most points in the NHL since that date and leads the league (69 points, 20 goals, 49 assists) this season.
Kucherov was at it again on Thursday night as he tallied a goal and three assists leading the Lightning past the Los Angeles Kings 6-2 for their seventh straight victory.
The one-man wrecking crew has eight goals and 19 assists during a 12-game point streak. He has scored in five straight games and has seven consecutive multipoint games, getting at least four points in three of his past five. He is the first player from the 2011 draft to reach the 400-point milestone.
Tampa Bay came into the Kings’ game with the league’s highest power-play success rate of 29.2 percent, so it was no surprise that the Lightning scored three power-play goals.
Captain Steven Stamkos added a goal and two assists, and Brayden Point had a goal and an assist in the Bolts demolition of the Kings. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves for his sixth consecutive win.
Point has 24 goals and 54 points.
Vasilevskiy is 16-3-2 with a goals against average of 2.55 and a .924 save percentage in 21 games. The Bolts goaltending didn’t miss a beat, even when Vasilevskiy broke his ankle. Backup Louis Domingue has a 15-4 record with a 2.99 goals against average and a .904 save percentage.
Stamkos has 23 goals on the season and 46 points. In December he set a career high for goals in a month with 14.
“It just feels different this year,” Stamkos said. “It just feels like anytime you get into a situation in a game when you’re down a goal or two you’re going to find a way. It’s just a matter of time. When it is going to come? That’s the feeling you have when things are going well.”
Stamkos and Kucherov were named to the Atlantic team Wednesday for the NHL All-Star game January, 26 in San Jose.
“This group has been together for quite a while, so we know what we’re capable of,” Tampa Bay forward Ryan Callahan said. “Make sure we continue to rise and continue to play well, not have that dip we had last year, and so far out of the break we’ve done that.”
The Lightning begins the second half on a historical pace that may see them become the best team in the NHL in decades.