The Tampa Bay Lightning faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night in what could be a preview of what the first round could be like. For Lightning fans, they’re ecstatic about the blowout win. For Leafs fans, well, not so much, as they had to see their team lose 8-1 against their potential first-round opponent.
With a blowout like this, there are multiple things to take away from the bright spot in a dark month for Lightning hockey.
1. Stamkos Sets Franchise Points Record
Steven Stamkos, who was drafted first overall nearly 14 years ago, back in 2008, set yet another new record in Tampa Bay Lightning history. This time, Stamkos has broken the all-time franchise points record, with a whopping 956 points, beating out Martin St. Louis’ old record, 953 points. For years moving forward, Stamkos will be seen as not only a superstar but also one of, if not the best, Lightning player in franchise history. Congratulations to Stamkos for an outstanding achievement!
2. Jon Cooper Did It
The Lightning had not played well in April before tonight, winning less than half their games, with the wins not being anything to brag about. It’s been obvious for the last couple of months that Lightning coach Jon Cooper was unhappy with how the team had been playing. The mix of pulling Andrei Vasilevskiy the week before and getting vocal about how he thought the team was playing in press conferences gave a spark to the team that they needed. This was Lightning hockey that fans have missed.
3. Vasilevskiy is Looking Better
Over the last month, Vasilevskiy hasn’t played the way he usually does. Fans speculated that he may have a nagging injury, or he’s been playing too many games. However, Vasilevskiy has started to play a lot better after saving 36 of 37 shots against the Leafs, impressive numbers for any goaltender. Vasilevskiy currently sits with a .917sv%, tied for his lowest since becoming the starter for the team. The fact that this is tied for his lowest is impressive in itself.
4. The Depth is Promising
The Lightning were missing Brayden Point Thursday night, and while usually that’s bad news, the Lightning have proven that they have the depth to keep the ball rolling. Despite multiple injuries, the Lightning have been a top team in the league all season long. The Lightning played fantastic and if they can play like that when injuries happen in the playoffs, there’s nothing to worry about in this year’s playoffs.
5. Focus on Playoffs
The Lightning have a chance to make history this season. If they win another cup this season, they’ll be the first team to win three cups in a row since the Islanders dynasty in the 80’s, which won four in a row. It’s time for the Lightning to focus on the playoffs and not worry too much on the regular season. They have a spot in the playoffs, so now the goal is to try and win another cup.