Could the Tampa Bay Lightning Win the Cup?

It’s an odd thing.  Watching the Rangers allow 15 goals in three meetings with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.  Weren’t the Rangers just in the Stanley Cup Final?

And what about Henrik Lundqvist?  Since when does he give up 14 goals in three games to one team?  Wasn’t he just in the Stanley Cup Final?

It’s been some time since the Tampa Bay Lightning were considered a contender.  This season, so far, they are leading the entire league in points.  They are third in the league on the power play with a 29.8% success rate.  Even though they have a lot of success in scoring goals, their penalty kill unit could use some improvement (coming in at No. 18 in the league).

What this says about Tampa Bay is that they’ve got a great scoring team on their hands.  Their plays are very effective, including solving each goaltender.  They had Lundqvist’s number on each meeting and solved him each time.  From an effective screen to catching the Rangers on a line change to successful precision in generating goals, the Lightning knew how to bring down the King of New York every single time.

“Any time those guys put up five goals, it makes it easy on me,” Tampa Bay’s netminder Ben Bishop said of his team’s scoring output after Monday’s win.  “It’s not just one line.  It’s line after line after line.”

They generated few shots, but had more goals on the scoreboard.  While the Rangers put up a lot of shots they added very few goals.  This also says something of Bishop.  He is giving his team a chance every single night to win.  He is second in the league in wins, following Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

The success rate of goals for the Lightning during the 6-3 win over the Rangers was 28.6%.  As compared to the rate of success on net for the Rangers, New York was only successful 8.6% of the time.

If you look at the statistic another way, that means that 91% of the shots made by the Rangers were unsuccessful.

The Rangers were 0-3-0 in the season series.  Monday night was their final meeting of the season.  There’s that embarrassing statistic of just how many goals Henrik Lundqvist allowed in three meetings…14 goals.  The Lightning registered 15 goals against the Rangers this season, with one coming in as an empty netter.

The odd thing about the winning team was that they weren’t completely on their ‘A-game.’

“The whole execution,” Anton Stralman said of how the Lightning was not on their A-game.  “The speed.  I think we’re a fast team.  We didn’t really use that tonight, but we still managed to get two points and in the end that’s what matters.”

What does this say about Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman?  If this team wins the Stanley Cup this year, you’ll understand that the team he has been building since he first took the job was created in pure brilliance.  He may have discovered the winning formula that every team has been looking for in creating a Stanley Cup team.  All those excuses you hear teams make about ‘building years’ will not compare to what the term truly means if Yzerman’s formula works.  After all, if you’re going to bet on a team that has the strongest potential of winning the Stanley Cup this year, you should invest your energy in a team that is proving night after night that they have what it takes.

Martin St. Louis’s 1000th Point

The Rangers and Lightning celebrated Martin St. Louis’s 1,000th career point on Monday night. He registered the 1,000th point on November 28th against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Most of those points came while he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Many of his former teammates on the Lightning joined in the Rangers video montage to celebrate his special night at Madison Square Garden.

St. Louis is the 81st player in NHL history to register 1,000 career points.  He became the sixth Ranger to do it.  He joins former Rangers Theo Fleury, Pat LaFontaine, Steve Larmer, Mike Gartner and Rod Gilbert.

“It was a great honor to play with Marty,” Ben Bishop said of his former teammate.  “He’s a great player.”