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How ’bout them Lightning?

Nov 11, 2013, 11:39 AM EDT

benbishopgetty Getty Images

Only one NHL game today on this holiday Monday, an afternoon affair in Boston between the Bruins and the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.

First place in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning (12-4-0) head into today’s contest on a four-game winning streak, with seven wins in their last eight.

Pretty good, right? Well, their overall record doesn’t even tell the whole impressive story. Of Tampa Bay’s 12 victories, six have come against the Western Conference, including two over the defending champion Blackhawks and others over winning clubs in St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. In fact, the Lightning are a perfect 6-0-0 against the West, which is especially noteworthy given that conference’s dominance over the East this season.

Perhaps the biggest key to the Lightning’s success? Goalie Ben Bishop, who boasts an 11-2-0 record with a .927 save percentage. Hockey’s most important position had been a weakness for the Lightning in recent seasons; it’s a strength now.

Others making positive impacts for Tampa Bay include free-agent addition Valtteri Filppula and 24-year-old Alex Killorn (who? read about him here). And, of course, there’s Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, who’ve combined for 42 points in 16 games.

The Lightning have, however, had trouble with the Bruins this season. Boston took the first meeting on Oct. 3, 3-1, and the next, 5-0, on Oct. 19.

  1. endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    They are improved and Ben B. has made a big difference. And the two victories were both games the Bullin Sieve started for the Hawks, ending up with a .818 save%. He’s been bad enough that Corey Crawford is now having to play both parts of back-to-backs while they wait for their two new AHL goalies to get ready.

    No viable free agent goalies available at this point, so the Hawks are stuck in the same dilemma multiple other teams are struggling with poor goalie play. Sure Ryan Miller’s maybe available, but who has the cap space other than the Islanders, who I’m really surprised have not made a move for him, as they are going nowhere with nabokov.

    • thesportsjudge - Nov 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM

      Only you could hijack this article and make it about Chicago.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        Nope, probably did not explain my point sufficiently. They clearly have exceeded most folks expectations, I was responding to the 6-0 vs the West. Ben Bishop even said after game one, where Hawks almost outshot them 2-1 (and Bullin gave up 2 on 19 shots) that he’d stolen a game. Better backup and they would likely not have come away with 4 points. All I meant to say.

        I just did an analysis of all the teams in the league, not only points % and trends, but strength of schedule, goals differential, shots o goal differential, points ad +/- depth, PP, PK, injuries. I have them as the top team in the EC. No disrespect intended.

        Is that now sufficiently clear?

      • endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        I’ve also noticed that Ben B has the best goalie stats of any goalie from the USA, and is most likely not only playing himself onto team USA but also perhaps contending for the starting nod.

    • pfhockey - Nov 11, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      I can’t even tell if you’re a hawks fan because Crawford played the Bolts the first game. The Bolts should have won the second game handily if not for the unlucky bounces(but that’s karma from the first game lol), not to mention a goal from the first game for the hawks was a lucky bounce. All in all, just win. And if you make excuses, you don’t get better.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        You’re right! I dorked the post!!. I admit it!!! Went off memory. Got Bullin’s bad overall save % and that in the 1st Tampa game it was 2 goals on 19 shots in regulation, got the wrong guy. While it diminished one of my points somewhat (that poor goalie play was part of the 6-0 against the West), what I was also trying to point out is how dramatically goalie play impacts results for the whole team – for better or worse. Not only has Tampa done much better with good goalie play, look at Minn and how their backup at the beginning of the season is now the star. Wild are likewise exceeding expectations. Avs are doing much better overall, and a big part in improved goalie play.

        Multiple initial posts on articles, mention the Hawks in on and get ripped.

        Guess next time, I’ll have to say “I’m using this purely an an example as I think it is a applicable example”.

  2. 13datsyuk13 - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    Duh! Steve Yzerman is a hockey god and everything he touches turns to gold. One day he will come back to Detroit.

  3. themagicfanguy - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Go Bolts! Thank goodness for Bishop, watching this team play last year was really painful at times.

  4. amityvillefun - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Tampa is a team worthy of respect. The Bruins are in for a good game this afternoon and historically, the B’s aren’t that great in matinee games. They need to be ready…. Otherwise, they will be shocked by the Lightning.

    Hopefully, the boys are pumped after the good win over Toronto and carry that momentum into this game.

  5. 19to77 - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    One potential danger area for this team is how much they ARE reliant on Bishop. He seems up to it so far, but this is still a guy in his first season as a bonafide starter and he’s been in net for 11 of their 12 wins so far – so not only is there a potential risk of him cooling down the stretch (or the ever-present chance of injury), but Lindback isn’t looking like much of a plan B.

    Still, I think Bishop is capable of pitching a .920 or better down the stretch from everything we’ve seen so far. Times are good for the Lightning.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:52 PM

      Then there are teams like the Blues and the Ducks who have 3 good NHL goalies. Blues have a guy who could start on several teams (Allen) in the NHL). Ducks have Fasth on IR, and will face a hard choice when he comes back of Hilller and Anderson are healthy. Maybe one of them uses 1 of their three to leverage some good picks/prospects with an EC team.

      • 19to77 - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        I can see them moving Hiller for money reasons. They did just commit to huge raises for Perry and Getzlaf, and Andersen has to have ‘em feeling confident with what he’s done so far.

      • ibieiniid - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        I bet they look for a bit more consistency out of Gibson in Norfolk before they do anything… but I think they’ll see it this season. They aren’t fighting with the cap mid-season, so I don’t think the Ducks have a reason to rush a trade. I think we’ve talked about this before on PHT: whether they could get a big return right now, or a bigger one later in the year is the decision they have to make, and I bet they decide on the latter. Either way, the Ducks are sitting pretty, and the concerns about Bishop in TB long-term have merit. Amazing what goalie depth does for a team….

    • ibieiniid - Nov 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      they never shoulda made that Tokarski/Desjardins trade.

  6. muckleflugga - Nov 11, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    ducks…?

    hawks…?

    • ibieiniid - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      I still don’t know why he brought up the Hawks, but we started talking ducks as a possible 2nd goalie in TB. if Bishop is especially affected by his first long NHL season, and the Bolts are still playing this well, the Ducks may be a potential trade target. they’ve got several backup-quality goalies.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      Some folks don’t understand I guess. My points were about the importance of having good goalie play and the effect of it or lack of. Ben Bishop has been a big part of the Tampa turnaround, but obviously not the only difference.

      Last year the Hawks had two solid goalies and it made a big difference. This year, the GM, who otherwise makes a lot of good decisions, made some bad ones regarding the goalie position. Tampa benefited from it in their 6-0 vs the WV, and obviously they had more going on beside that.

      I use examples to illustrate points, and also to point out flaws in articles. Use the Hawks most often because I know them best.

      Right now, they are not even the best team in their division, and if they don’t resolve their backup goalie issue, I don’t see them taking second either.

      If you read back on all the posts on this thread, it should be clear.

      And if there is a way to look at a bigger sampling of my posts, you’d see that goal tending is a very consistent theme – here ad on Yahoo articles and game threads (Post as Scott D), so is analytical analysis.

  7. endusersolutions2013 - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    By the way, very sorry to read the news about Stamkos. Big impact for the franchise, Team Canada and hockey in general. I noticed that the game was tied in the middle of the 2nd, then had to focus on work.

  8. jcmeyer10 - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    Way to jinx the Lightning Bro[ough].

    • imleftcoast - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:08 PM

      I mean only holy crap. Could you whip up quick “Colorado Avs sure to make playoffs” and “what don’t the Anaheim Ducks have going for them” articles? I’d like to see the Canucks make the playoffs.

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