The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs both entered tonight’s game with multiple starters missing for various reasons. Anthony Cirelli was announced out prior to the start of the game and Riley Nash made his Lightning debut.
The Lightning had to withstand multiple offensive onslaughts from the Leafs as they were outshot 38 to 27, but the Lightning made their opportunities count when they came. The Bolts would go down early in the first period but went on to tie the game and grow their lead to 4-2 before giving up one around the midpoint of the third and getting one back with an empty netter to seal the game.
Here are some of the major talking points from tonight’s game.
1. Riley Nash Makes Lightning Debut
After being claimed off waivers Tuesday, Riley Nash made his NHL debut tonight filling in for the injured Anthony Cirelli. Nash was not asked to do too much as he was centering the fourth line with rookies Boris Katchouk and Gabriel Fortier on his wings, but he came as advertised.
Nash with the two defensively talented rookie forwars proved to be a potent defensive group. According to MoneyPuck, Nash’s line had a perfect 100% expected goal percentage and were the only line on the Lightning above 50% in corsi% with an 83.3%.
Additionally, in a game the Lightning centers struggled in the faceoff circle, Nash led the way among players taking at least five draws. Nash won 71.4% of his draws with the next best being Bellemare with a 38.9% win rate.
Should Cirelli miss more time, expect to see more of Nash going forward.
2. Lightning Struggle in Faceoff Circle
The Lightning were horrific in the faceoff circle tonight. The final tally shows Toronto with 38 faceoff wins to the Lightning’s 27, but that masks the relatively strong third period the Bolts had that helped them close out the game. Regardless, their faceoff struggles would not cost them in the end as they proved effective enough in recovering from the numerous faceoff losses.
3. Taylor Raddysh Impresses
Taylor Raddysh has been perhaps the most exciting rookie for the Lightning this season. With multiple injuries hampering the top-end of the Bolt’s forward group, Raddysh was given his first opportunity to play up in the lineup on the first line with Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos and boy did he ever look good.
You could almost say Raddysh looked like a natural top line talent on the ice with his two veteran teammates as he recorded a goal and an assist in 18:37 of ice-time. Perhaps the most important development with Raddysh is that he’s beginning to gain confidence with his shooting and is starting to pile on the goals. Raddysh looked to be a more pass-first player to begin the season, but the team would probably like him to shoot the puck even more with this shot.
4. Steven Stamkos Leads the Way Offensively
No Anthony Cirelli, Bradyen Point, or Nikita Kucherov. Who ya gonna call? Steven Stamkos.
I am sorry for that, but Stamkos answered the call in a big way tonight with a goal and three assists. The captain has been on fire lately and has been every bit of the star the team needs him to be with a large chunk of their offensive production missing due to injury.
5. Jon Cooper Fastest to 400 Wins
The fact that Jon Cooper does not have a Jack Adams Award to accompany his two Stanley Cup Championship rings and his newly acquired title of fastest NHL coach to 400 wins in history is unfortunate. While the voters for the Jack Adams might not appreciate Cooper’s accomplishments, it is safe to say Lightning fans are grateful to have had him as our coach for the past nine seasons. Congrats on #400 Coop!
The Lightning will next faceoff Saturday against the Ottawa Senators at 1pm EST.