With a 3-1 home victory last night vs the Vancouver Canucks, the Bolts extended their win streak to 4 games, have picked up points in 8 of their last 9 games, and are 7-1-1 in their past 9. Antero Niitymaki has been the goaltender for 8 of those games, and he has been nothing short of spectacular, culminating in last nights 39 save effort vs the Canucks.
In his past 8 games, during the Lightning streak, he has seen 254 shots and stopped 245 of them, for a .964 save percentage and a 1.125 GAA. I said it a few posts ago, but it’s pretty much impossible to beat any team when there goalie is playing that well, and the Lightning are talented. As I write this, they are debating on NHL Network on whether Antero Niitymaki should be the starting goaltender for Finland over Mikka Kiprusoff or Niklas Backstrom. Without being at games, its sometimes hard for fans to truly get a grasp of how well a guy is seeing the puck, but having been at every home game over this stretch, Niity is seeing everything. Two of the 9 goals scored on him were lucky bounces off players skates and 3 of them were goals that he had no chance stopping. He is stopping pucks through traffic, with his blocker pads, and with his leg pads. Truly fantastic to watch the past few weeks.
Also coinciding with our winning streak has been a points streak for both Martin St Louis and Steven Stamkos. Martin St Louis has 11 points in 7 games, including 7 goals. Stammer has 16 points in his last 10 games including 8 goals. He is a +6 in that time frame.
Stammer and Marty obviously added to that total last night. Stammer had a goal, his patended weak side of the goalie slap shot (which is as automatic as an empty net goal for Stammer) and an assist to Marty last night. Marty had two goals, including a beautiful drop of the puck to himself and a burying of a wrister past Roberto Luongo and an assist.
The Lightning ran for the 2nd straight game with a new alignment of forwards.
Line 1 – Stammer, Marty, Steve Downie
Line 2 – Vincent Lecavalier, Stephane Veiulleux, and the never improving consistently awful Alex Tanguay
Line 3 – Nate Thompson, Ryan Malone, Jeff Halpern
Line 4 – Zenon Konopka, Todd Fedoruk, Kurtis Foster
Tocchet is liking the grit and faceoffs he is getting from the 3rd and 4th lines, so I wouldn’t look for a switch at least until we lose a game.
- Lightning are now 9th in the league with an impressive 19.5% power play percentage, mainly attributable to the stacked power play line and league power play goal leader Steven Stamkos.
- Lightning rank 7th in the league in faceoffs.