Tampa may have lost the game, but man was I impressed with their system and I realized that I hadn’t watched a TB game in a few weeks. They were just on it – defense, offense, everywhere. So quick and tenacious. Martin St. Louis was held off the scoreboard, but it seemed as though he and his linemates Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat were all over the ice and that they played every shift. And then I looked at the ice time after the game and it would seem that I was right – St. Louis and Johnson each played about 25 minutes! Forwards! In regulation! In fact, Johnson led all Lightning players, including defensemen, in ice time with 25:24.
Palat led the team in hits with six, as well as his two assists. I had always just assumed that when Steven Stamkos returns – and it sounds like it will happen in five to eight days – Killorn and St. Louis would be his linemates while Johnson and Palat would remain together but as third liners. But maybe not. Maybe they keep the line intact and start Stamkos off slowly, ease him back in on the third line.
It’s hard to believe that Palat is only eight points behind Nathan MacKinnon in the rookie scoring race and is a plus-22. Johnson is only one point behind MacKinnon and is a plus-17. I have MacKinnon, Johnson, Palat and Kucherov in my 25-year keeper league. The last time I had that kind of rookie success on my team at the same time, their names were Kopitar, Radulov, Stastny and some Malkin guy.
More Lightning stuff – Radko Gudas had four shots on goal, five hits and four blocked shots. Palat has seven points in his last four games.
Interesting stat I saw on TV. Martin St. Louis has 16 points since not being named to Team Canada. That leads all Canadians.
I love that Nikita Kucherov puts up points despite low ice time. He is what you want all prospects to be. We get upset that our offensive prospect gets called up only to play on the fourth line for nine or 10 minutes. The prospect is held off the scoresheet and gets sent back down two games later. Then we get mad at the coach. But what the coach wants to see is this. Kucherov (and for awhile we saw this with Tyler Toffoli, too) chips in regardless of line and linemates. He’s a future star.
Speaking of future stars, if I wasn’t convinced before I certainly am now. Jonathan Bernier will be a star goalie and beginning next year he is going to start banging out 35-win seasons like nobody’s business. And not just because of this save: