Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Three Things: Lightning @ Hurricanes

While the the great majority of civilization was watching baseball, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 5-1 on Tuesday night.  The scoreboard doesn't exactly reflect the way things went, however, as the 'Canes were the better team for most of the night.  The Lightning took advantage of bounces, an empty net (x2), and their goaltender's heroics to grab the victory.  Here are tonight's three things:

Thing #1: Vasilevskiy means business.

There were some questions about Andrei Vasilevskiy's readiness to be a #1 goaltender for this team.  While the sample size is still small, those questions have seemingly been answered:
Vasy was full value for the win in tonight's game.  He stopped 31 of 32 Hurricanes shots, nearly earning himself another shutout.  As the team in front of him flailed around and allowed flurries of activity in the defensive zone, Vasilevskiy stood tall and gave the group a shot at victory.

He leads the league in wins, sits top-5 in save percentage, and is T1 in shutouts.  Diving a little bit deeper, using Corsica.Hockey as a guide, it's clear that Vasilevskiy has been a big reason behind the Lightning's early success.  Prior to the inclusion of tonight's game's stats, Vasilevskiy was sitting amongst the top-10 in goals saved above average at five-on-five, and second overall in cumulative "star" rating.  He's doing the work of an elite goaltender at a relative fraction of the cost.

Questions?  Answered.

Thing #2: The top line made the most of a bad performance.

I watched the game and, as I was watching, I didn't feel as though the dominant trio of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Vlad Namestnikov was particularly effective on the night.  This suspicion was confirmed via the numbers at HockeyStats.ca, which show that not one of the three boasted a Corsi rating above 37% (!) at 5v5 tonight.  Brutal.

Even on a night when they were, quite frankly, bad, the three still found a way to produce.  Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Kucherov and Namestnikov each scored a goal.  Stamkos now has 20 points in 10 games this season, which is ludicrously good, and both he and Kucherov extended their lengthy point streaks.

The Hurricanes did so much right against what has been the best line in the league to start this year, and somehow still gave up four points to the trio of players.  That has to hurt.

Thing #3: Koekkoek to Vancouver?

Okay, so this one doesn't really have to do with the game itself...

Koekkoek once again found himself serving popcorn tonight, which frustrated this blogger to no end after writing a piece on his sound start to the season just a few days ago.  The Lightning's handling of the 2012 first-rounder ultimately begs the question: If they aren't going to play him here, should they look to move him?  Until tonight, I hadn't seen or heard anything along those lines.  Then this popped up on my Twitter feed:

It could be nothing, or it could be something.


As always, thanks for reading.

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