Tampa Bay lightning hasn’t been so terrifying this year. But this does not mean that they cannot peat.

With so many exciting contenders vying for the Stanley Cup this season, it can be easy to forget that someone is trying to become only the sixth team in the National Hockey League to win three or more consecutive championships.

Tampa Bay Lightning is conveniently located at the center of the playoffs, so it’s probably a bit overstated to say they’ve flown under the radar this season. But they are hardly in the top 10 in the league, and they track multiple teams in betting odds. (Our forecast model agrees; we give bolts just 5 percent of tertiary peat.) So is lightning still massive enough to win? And how does this year’s squad stack up with the previous two title winners?

Offensively, Tampa Bay has fallen slightly short of the regular season versions of these two championship teams, continuing a slow decline pattern dating back to its regular season recorded in 2018-2019. This team was a powerhouse (until, uh, the playoffs), producing 27th place in goals per game compared to the league average in National Hockey League history, meaning it easily led the league in scoring. The Bolts also led the 2019-20 league, albeit with 0.47 fewer goals per game than average, and maintained roughly the same level of relative production during playoffs – unlike their predecessors – thanks to post-season leaders in goals (Brayden Point) and assists. (Nikita Kucherov). Lightning’s offense last season slipped further into the regular season, ranking eighth in goal-scoring in the league with Kucherov sidelined throughout the entire year, although they bounced back in the playoffs after returning for another stellar run after the season.

Which brings us to this year, when Tampa Bay ranked ninth in goalscoring with the fewest relative goals per game in a regular season since 2016-2017. While Lightning still has some dangerous weapons, with four players — Kucherov, Point, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman — averaging at least 0.90 points per game, their scoring depth is less robust than in the past. (It also didn’t help that Kucherov missed 35 games earlier in the season due to a lower body injury and COVID-19 protocols.) On top of that, Tampa’s solid playing success rate ranks outside the top ten for the first time in seven seasons, The volume and quality of his shots have declined from 2019-20 and 2020-21, and the team has not ranked too low in Corsi’s percentage (13) since finishing 26th in 2012-13.

Some of this is due to a select league winning leagues draining salaries, with nearly all of Lightning’s top contributors this season still being a core of the 2019-20 title team. Of Tampa Bay’s top 19 players with goals above substitution this season, only four — goalkeeper Brian Elliott and forwards Corey Berry, Ross Colton and Pierre Edward Bellemare — were also not in Lightning’s 2019-20. Meanwhile, a number of contributors to the championship roster have lost out over the intervening years, including forwards Yanni Gorde, Tyler Johnson, Blake Coleman, Barkley Goudreau and defender Kevin Shattenkirk. While some of these losses hurt attacking more than others (Goodrow plays a key role in the league for his defense), the overall effect has been to empty Tampa’s support staff and put more pressure on their star players to generate more scoring.

At least Lightning remains as resilient as ever on defense: They are ranked eighth in the fewest goals allowed per game, with a relative number (0.31 goals per game better than average) tied with 2018-19 and 2020-21 for the best of any season. in the history of the franchise. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy remains one of the strongest players in the game – over the past five seasons, no one has come close to matching Vasilevskiy’s performance and consistency in the net – and in front of him, the Tampa Bay defensive side allowed in the fifth least expected. Goals per minute for any team. This is all good news for Lightning’s three peat display, as their defense has actually been a more important driving force in both championship careers than their attack, compared to the league average.

The best-case scenario for Tampa Bay is that his attack shines in the playoffs with Kucherov’s health nearing a peak – he has 13 points in nine games this month – and his defense waning again en route to a third consecutive Stanley Cup. . The dismal side of the argument is that Lightning has struggled against most clubs they could face in the post-season – aged 15-22 versus teams with at least a 50% chance of play-offs in our model, including the dismal 7. -15 mark against fellow Eastern Conference teams in that category. Like most repeat aspiring champions, Tampa is getting older (their likely age of 29.0 is the fourth oldest in the NHL this year), and their depth has eroded compared to previous versions of the team:

Tampa Bay’s best players aren’t as strong as ever

Adjusted goals above replacement (GAR) for the 2021-22 Tampa Bay Lightning members, compared to the average GAR for this in-team ranking in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 regular seasons

MODIFY GAR
player POS games turning off. Dave. Goal Total 20/21 average for Rk vs average
1 Victor Hedman Dr 75 14.8 8.9 0.0 23.8 25.8 -2.0
2 Stephen Stamkos c 74 15.6 4.2 0.0 19.8 18.7 +1.1
3 Andrei Vasilevsky J 58 0.0 0.0 17.5 17.5 16.8 +0.7
4 Brayden Point c 61 9.4 2.3 0.0 11.7 15.3 -3.6
5 Nikita Kucherov RW 40 9.4 1.3 0.0 10.7 14.4 -3.7
6 Alex Killorn c 75 7.2 3.1 0.0 10.3 12.4 -2.1
7 Mikhail Sergechev Dr 71 4.4 5.8 0.0 10.1 12.0 -1.8
8 Jean Rota Dr 71 0.7 6.7 0.0 7.4 10.8 -3.5
9 Anthony Cirelli c 70 3.6 3.8 0.0 7.4 9.4 -2.0
10 Corey Berry RW 75 4.6 2.8 0.0 7.3 9.2 -1.9
11 Ondrej Balat LW 70 4.3 3.0 0.0 7.2 6.7 +0.5
12 Ross Colton c 72 4.6 2.2 0.0 6.7 5.0 +1.7
13 Ryan McDonagh Dr 64 0.7 5.5 0.0 6.3 4.5 +1.8
14 pat maroon LW 74 0.7 3.2 0.0 3.9 4.4 -0.4
15th B Bellmar LW 74 -0.6 4.1 0.0 3.5 3.6 -0.1
16 Brian Elliot J 17 0.0 0.0 2.8 2.8 3.4 -0.6
17 Eric Cernack Dr 48 -0.9 3.5 0.0 2.6 3.1 -0.5
18 Zach Bogosian Dr 41 0.3 2.3 0.0 2.6 2.5 +0.1
19 Matthew Joseph RW 58 0.3 2.0 0.0 2.3 2.2 +0.1
20 Nick Paul LW 14 1.2 0.6 0.0 1.8 1.7 +0.1

The modified GAR is divided into 82 games. Through the April 17, 2022 games.

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

Although still above average, they have been Tampa Bay’s weakest potential championship teams from the past several seasons, in a year when most other top competitors have become stronger. Staring at a potential opener with the talent-packed Toronto Maple Leafs (if he’s probably cursed), the Bolts’ trio of curds may not even survive the first round of the playoffs. But if Tampa can sustain its post-season streak of success, it will line up among the greatest dynasties the sport has ever known. Currently, Lightning ranks 15th in the average three-year Elo rating (going to the playoffs) among the three potential bids in NHL history, neck and neck with the 1998-99 Detroit Red Wings:

Tampa Bay is in a special club – and it can get even more special

Triple Peat Stanley Cup bids in NHL history ranked by average team Elo rating over the previous two seasons plus the current regular season

Elo reviews
year a team Final 1 Final 2 Season Three Reg Average Cup 3 won?
1978 Montreal Canadiens 1673 1716 1704 1697.7 🏆
1979 Montreal Canadiens 1716 1711 1656 1694.6 🏆
1980 Montreal Canadiens 1711 1665 1621 1665.8
1986 Edmonton Oilers 1644 1639 1635 1639.3
1984 New York Islanders 1656 1627 1602 1628.3
1983 New York Islanders 1628 1656 1586 1623.4 🏆
1982 New York Islanders 1593 1628 1647 1622.6 🏆
1976 Philadelphia Flyers 1602 1614 1628 1614.4
1958 Montreal Canadiens 1616 1591 1595 1600.6 🏆
1961 Montreal Canadiens 1599 1607 1595 1600.4
1959 Montreal Canadiens 1591 1604 1597 1597.2 🏆
1960 Montreal Canadiens 1604 1599 1584 1595.7 🏆
1989 Edmonton Oilers 1616 1624 1543 1594.2
1999 Detroit Red Wings 1606 1607 1558 1590.5
2022 Tampa Bay Lightning 1603 1596 1569 1589.3 ??
1993 Pittsburgh penguins 1558 1575 1615 1582.7
1956 Detroit Red Wings 1579 1608 1561 1582.5
1970 Montreal Canadiens 1583 1600 1555 1579.4
2018 Pittsburgh penguins 1584 1586 1561 1577.0
1967 Montreal Canadiens 1552 1590 1550 1563.7
1964 Toronto Maple Leafs 1560 1575 1547 1560.8 🏆
1932 Montreal Canadiens 1552 1565 1561 1559.2
1949 Toronto Maple Leafs 1554 1589 1522 1555.1 🏆
1965 Toronto Maple Leafs 1575 1556 1533 1554.8
1950 Toronto Maple Leafs 1589 1547 1521 1552.7
1938 Detroit Red Wings 1553 1552 1486 1530.1
1926 Montreal Canadiens 1518 1526 1451 1498.2

Through the April 17, 2022 games.

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

That team’s reign eventually ended in the second round of the playoffs, as Detroit’s aging roster came up against another talented team with fresher legs (in the form of arch rivals the Colorado Avalanche), and the Red Wings blew the 2-0 lead to lose in six games. A similar fate could be in store for the Bolts this year, especially given the growing competition for the top spot in the league this season. After all, running three straight deep runs in the NHL Posteason is one of the most stressful tasks in all of sports, and there’s a reason most teams that attempt it ultimately fail. But Tampa Bay still has the ingredients to make history — and no matter what happens, it’ll be fun to watch this Lightning team try to pull it off.

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