After two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning are looking like the team to beat. Now, I am aware that there are multiple teams up 2-0 in their series, but this Lightning team is looking like they were at the beginning of the year, a sure bet to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup. After two wins over the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Lightning look to carry on their dominance on the road to advance to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Here is why the Lightning will dominate the East, and hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in June.
At the end of the regular season, the Lightning were the number one team in the league in goals scored per game. In the season series against the Devils in the regular season, the Lightning scored a combined eight goals in three loses. After two games, the Lightning have scored 10 goals. Their power play is looking more like it did in October and November, and their goals are coming from players deeper down the roster. Nikita Kucherov has been continuing his dominance from the regular season into the playoffs, leading the team with four points (2 G, 2 A) along with Ondrej Palat (1 G, 3 A). Steven Stamkos is also contributing with two assists, but has yet to score a goal in the first two games of the postseason. Two names that haven’t been called in awhile is Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson. Two forwards who have both scored three points in two games, and are the players the Lightning need to step up this time of year. The Lightning have also been dominating the power play, having the best percentage in the league at 75% in the playoffs. The Lightning are also second in goals scored, behind the Boston Bruins, with 10 goals. This team is very hot offensively, and don’t expect it to cool down any time soon.
A regular season Vezina favorite is back in top form to start the playoffs. Slipping after the All-Star Break, Andrei Vasilevskiy is showing himself and the world that he is the next franchise goalie for the Lightning. In two games, Vasilevskiy has two wins, and a save percentage at .933 (fourth best in the NHL) and a GAA of 2.50 (seventh best in the NHL). After the NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, Vasilevskiy noted that he was not used to the amount of work a number one goalie puts in a season. Before being the number one, Vasy was the backup to now Dallas Star, Ben Bishop. Before he was expected to start in just over 20 games a season. Now he started 64 in the regular season, and both in the playoffs. He found his groove late in the regular season, and it seems to have carried on to the regular season.
Now again, there are six teams leading their series 2-0, but I feel the Lightning are different. They have been solid on the road compared to some teams, but Boston does scare me into the next round. The Lightning only won once in the regular season, but Boston has been absolutely dominating the Toronto Maple Leafs. I expect for a great matchup between the Bruins and Lightning next round, and then I predict the Lightning to get revenge on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Vegas Golden Knights have been looking just as good in the West, and I expect them to meet the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals come June. They would have to get through Nashville, but Vegas has been so good at home that I think they could steal one road win away from the Predators to make it to the Finals. The Lightning are looking like the team to beat in the East, and I expect them to show that off in the next round.