Tampa Bay Lightning: Five Players We’re Thankful For This Season

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Nov 5, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

4. Nikita Kucherov

There is no denying the Triplet Line, which consists of center Tyler Johnson, left wing Ondrej Palat, and right wing Nikita Kucherov, has become one of the most dominant lines the Tampa Bay Lightning has in their arsenal. Last season, the Triplets accounted for over one third of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s total points.

Unfortunately, what happens when the Triplets get brought down to a single player? Earlier this month, Ondrej Palat suffered a Lower Body Injury which would force the young winger to miss 3-5 weeks of action. At this particular point and time, he has already missed five games. Then, Kucherov’s other linemate Tyler Johnson would be struck down with a nagging Upper Body Injury.

This left Nikita Kucherov to make his way on a new line and build a chemistry with a whole new set of players. Anyone who has witnessed the magic created by the chemistry between the Triplets knows this is something far more difficult to accomplish than one would be led to imagine.

Despite everything that has been thrown his way this season, Kucherov has found a way to keep his head in the game and make the most of the hand he’s been giving. The twenty two year old Russian forward has played in 22 games so far this season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In that amount of time, he has managed to score six goals and seven assists for a total of 13 points to accompany his plus-4 rating.

Kucherov really stood out in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-0 shutout win over the Anaheim Ducks last Saturday night. As both teams struggled to find the back of the net in the first period of play, it would be Nikita Kucherov who would break through in the opening minutes of the second period and score what would ultimately be the game winning goal.

Nikita Kucherov would also register not one, but two assists during the Lightning’s win over the Ducks. The first would come late in the second period on a Power Play goal by Steven Stamkos, and the second would come at the halfway point in the third period when Jonathan Marchessault would score his first goal of the season while the Tampa Bay Lightning were once again on the Power Play.

Nikita Kucherov has been, and will continue to be one of the most valuable players in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s lineup thanks to his speed, his situational awareness, and his uncanny ability to read a play and be in the right place at the right time.

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