Bolts Set Franchise Mark at Midway Point
The conclusion of Friday's game in Calgary was significant for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was their 41st game – the midway point of the season – and their view from near the top of the Atlantic Division is a good one to have considering the six other division opponents who currently sit below them. With a 25-12-4 record as they reach the season's mid-point, the Bolts have the best record in franchise history through 41 games in an 82-game season.
"They've taken ownership and they've put themselves in a conversation to be relevant in the end of March and start of April," head coach Jon Cooper said. "You have to give those guys a lot of credit."
After the Bolts' 25th win of the season Friday, 2-0 against the Flames, Cooper said that the current Western Canada swing was especially vital in proving that the Bolts are who they say they are.
"This is one of those road trips where we said we can't let the first half be a fluke," he said. "We have to get points on this road trip to keep ourselves relevant and it's been so far so good."
The easiest way for the Lightning to continue moving forward this season has been to break down stretches of games into segments.
"We go on what the team's calling an eight-game road trip and that's an eight-game season," Cooper said. "Then we go home and it's going to turn into a mini season until we get to the Olympic Break and so forth."
As for how the players feel about where they are at thus far?
"I think all the players in there have surprised everybody that's been watching us, but I don't know if they've surprised themselves," Cooper said. "There are a bunch of winners in there."
COMPARISON WITH LAST YEAR
Due to a lockout in 2012-13 the season only consisted of 48 games. Yet through 41 contests last year the Lightning had a record of 17-21-3 and were sitting at fourth place in the Southeast Division and en route to missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.
This season the Bolts are 25-12-4 through 41 games with 54 points and are in second place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay currently sits four points behind the first-place Boston Bruins and are third in the Eastern Conference, well entrenched in a playoff spot.
At this point last season Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were tied for the lead on the Lightning in points with 52. Teddy Purcell was third with 34.
This year St. Louis leads the team with 38 points and Valtteri Filppula's 32 points are good for second, while Purcell, Alex Killorn and Stamkos are tied for third with 23 points.
BY THE NUMBERS
|Best record in franchise history at halfway point:||25-12-4|
|Most points in franchise history at halfway point:||54 points|
|Most wins in franchise history halfway point:||25 wins|
|Record in one-goal games||10-4-4|
|Record in overtime/shootouts||9-2-2|
|Record with Steven Stamkos||12-5-0|
|Record without Steven Stamkos||13-7-4|
|Most rookie points on the roster in the NHL:||88 points scored|
MAJOR MOMENTS IN FIRST HALF
October 1, 2013 – Martin St. Louis is named the ninth captain in franchise history for Tampa Bay.
October 17, 2013 – Goaltender Ben Bishop earns his fifth win of the season for his best career start to a season (5-0-0) and a career-best five-game winning streak.
November 11, 2013 – At the 7:11 mark of the second period superstar center Steven Stamkos' right leg crashes into Anders Lindback's cage. Stamkos initially tries to return to his feet, but immediately collapses in pain. It is announced later that evening that he has suffered a broken right tibia. At that point in the season Stamkos was tied for the league lead in goals and points. Stamkos has since missed 24 games.
November 19, 2013 – Martin St. Louis skates in his 1,000th career NHL game, becoming the 286th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game milestone. In the 5-2 loss St. Louis recorded one assist.
November 25, 2013 – Steven Stamkos silences the media by walking into his first press conference exactly two weeks after breaking his leg. He pulls off another stunt later that night by walking onto the ice to present St. Louis with a scrapbook on behalf of the team during a pre-game ceremony honoring St. Louis for his 1,000th game.
November 27, 2013 – Vincent Lecavalier faces his former team, the Bolts, for the first time since his contract was bought out by the club this past summer. In an emotional return the former captain tallies one goal in 17:54 of ice time, while adding four shots on goal and four hits.
January 1, 2014 – Creating Olympic buzz with his performance thus far in the season goaltender Ben Bishop is left off Team USA's roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia.
January 2, 2014 – Steven Stamkos skates for the first time in full gear and a red, no-contact jersey following the Lightning's team skate at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
January 3, 2014 – Tampa Bay improves its record to 25-12-4 at the mid-point of the season. The best record in franchise history at the half-way point of a full 82-game season.