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A Season to Remember
By Jake Ricker
All stats are as of March 2nd, 2019
When the US beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games to advance to the gold medal game people remember where they were as history was being made that would be remembered for generations. When the Vegas Golden Knights became the first expansion team to reach the Stanley Cup Final, they etched their names in the history books and would not soon be forgotten.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are continuing their historic run and are making a case for them being the greatest team in NHL history. To see if they really are up to these standards we must take a look back at some of the best team’s to ever hit the ice.
Currently, the 1976-77 Montreal Canadians holds the record for the most points in an NHL season with 132. To give you an idea of this teams dominance for every 20 games they played they lost an average of 2 games in regulation. The Canadiens ended with a record of 60-8-12 (the 12 is for ties as there was no overtime at this time). This team was filled with superstar talent with 9 hall of famers playing for the team. The top 2 scorers on the team, Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt, tallied over 100 points each throughout the season. However, The Canadians don’t hold the recorded for most wins as this record belongs to the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings with a total of 62 wins. While this team only contained 7 hall of famers (still a crazy number), the team was not short of talent. With the help of Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov, the Wings turned what seemed to be an average start (12-6-2 in 20 GP) into a record-breaking season. But a new team has emerged that is taking the NHL by storm, no pun intended, and are breaking more records than one.
The Lightning currently has a record of 50-12-4 for a total of 104 points. The second place team, the Calgary Flames have 89 points, putting the Bolts 15 points ahead! With this record, the Bolts are on pace to get 129 points and 62 wins which would tie the Red Wings win record. But the Bolts are nowhere near done though as they just finished a 10 game winning streak which broke their previous record of 9 wins. With the Bolts having already surpassed the 100 point mark they became only the 4th team in NHL history to get there in 63 games played or less. The last team to do this was the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens, that’s over 40 years ago that a team was able to do what the Bolts are doing today. The Bolts also tied the NHL record for fewest games to 50 wins since the 1995-96 Red Wings. And this is no fluke as the Bolts are the 5th team to have two streaks of 12 more in a single season.
Each player on the Bolts has done their part to get their team to this point. The Bolts are the first team since the 1995-96 Penguins to have 3 players get 70 or more points in just 60 games played (Stamkos, Point, Kucherov). These three also rank all in the top ten for the entire league. The Bolts currently have three thirty goal scorers, one twenty goal scorer, and five ten goal scorer. To give you an idea of how that stacks up against the league the next 3 best teams only one of them have two thirty goal scorers.
Nikita Kucherov has been in a league of his own as he continues to shatter records of his own. Kucherov currently holds the franchise record assists with 74, passing Lightning legends Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards. Kucherov is also now just 3 points away from breaking the franchise record for points in a single season with the current leader Vincent Lecavalier at 108 points. With Kucherov’s 100 plus points he became the first Lighting player to post multiple 100 point seasons. And it doesn’t stop there. Kucherov became the fastest player in 22 years to reach the 100 point mark. Kuch is having one of the best seasons a Bolts has ever had, and he is not done yet.
Steven Stamkos had a record-setting month back in December after he had a relatively quiet start. Stamkos posted a franchise high fourteen goals in the month of December with seven of them coming on the power play. Stammer tallied seven assists giving him a total of 21 points in the month of December. With the captains performance, it was no surprise that the team would go unbeaten through that month.
The goaltender duo of Andrei Vasilevskiy and Louis Domingue are also changing the writing in the history books with their fantastic play. Vasy would break the Lighting franchise record for most shutouts as a Bolt with 18 in his young career. Meanwhile, Domingue holds the longest winning streak of any Lightning goaltender (11).
I haven’t even mentioned all of the other amazing stat’s Bolts players have put up this year with guys like Brayden Point, Yanni Gourde, Mathieu Joseph, and Anthony Cirelli having great seasons The depth scoring on the Bolts is by far the deepest in the NHL which is a huge reason for their success.
The Lightning are home to the number one power play and penalty kill in the NHL. With the power play at a 28.9% success rate and the penalty kill with a 86% success rate. A team having the best power play and penalty kill is rare itself, but the Bolts are currently 8 percent above average on the power play and 6 percent above average on the kill.
With so many Bolts players having some of their best seasons this team seems unstoppable. Even when the Bolts do lose it doesn’t last long. The Bolts have only lost 2 games in a row twice this season. If they can keep this up into the playoffs, it would give them a tremendous advantage especially with home ice.
Love or hate the Bolts we are witnessing history as the Bolts inch closer and closer to rewriting the history books. This is a season that will be remembered for years to come. No matter what happens in the playoffs, enjoy this season Bolts fans we may not get another one for a long time.