The transformation is far from complete for the Lightning, but the turnaround seems to have begun in earnest.
Tampa Bay's potent offense grabbed plenty of the focus following Sunday's 5-1 victory against Philadelphia, giving the Lightning a three-game winning streak. Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell, Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer all scored goals while Marty St. Louis had four assists to get Tampa Bay off to one of the best starts in franchise history with a 4-1 record through five games.
The only better starts came in 2003-04 (5-0) and 2002-03 (4-0-1). Tampa Bay also started 4-1 in 1996-97 and 2010-11. And with 24 goals through the first five games, the Lightning lead the league in scoring, having scored no fewer than three goals in any game thus far.
The talk of Sunday's victory, however, was not about the five goals scored or the fact that two of them came on the power play. Instead it was the commitment to defense displayed by the entire team in limiting the Flyers' scoring chances one night after Philadelphia piled up seven goals against the Florida Panthers.
Tampa Bay blocked 26 shots on the night, went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and held Philadelphia to 25 shots on goal for the game, the first time the Lightning have held an opponent under 30 shots this season. It's a far cry from being any sort of a defensive stalwart, but for a team that allowed the most goals in the NHL last season, it's a step in the right direction.
"We have total buy-in from our guys," Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said of the defensive play.
That means making sure things are tight in the defensive end, knowing the chances will eventually come at the other end of the ice.
"Even though we know we have a lot of talent offensively, we have a lot of firepower up front, but our focus is good defense and we let that get away a couple of games,'' winger B.J. Crombeen said. "So it's something that we are really preaching and we think we have a long way to go. We still think we can improve a lot but it's a good step in the right direction, but we will continue to get better and better at that.''
Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of fight to beat Flyers
Tampa Tribune | Jan 28