Tampa Bay Lightning


Tampa Bay Lightning

Arena: Amalie Arena
Coach: Jon Cooper

2022-2023 TEAM LEADERS

Tampa Bay Lightning

Team Summary 

The Tampa Bay Lightning are an NHL team playing in the Atlantic Division based in Tampa Bay, Florida. The team is one of two professional hockey clubs in the state of Florida, sharing both the state and the division with the Florida Panthers in Sunrise. The Lightning are named after Tampa Bay’s designation as the “Lightning capital of North America” due to their many storms. While Tampa Bay has a very dedicated fanbase inside of Florida, its many fans throughout North America are referred to as ”distant thunder.” 

The current core of players is well known for very high highs, and very low lows, including their 2019 playoff implosion against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning are most recently known for their back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in the 2019-202 and 2020-2021 seasons, cementing themselves as a modern dynasty with players like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The team has won one additional championship in 2004.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are a professional ice hockey team based in Tampa, Florida. The team competes in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the NHL. The Lightning have a passionate fan base and have a recent history of success, having won the Stanley Cup in recent years.

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Team History 

Tampa Bay joined the league in 1992 as an expansion team, finishing off their inaugural season with a record of 23-54-7. The Lightning would go through some serious issues during their first several years, switching ownership twice by 1999 and even being involved in a money-laundering scandal involving the yakuza. The team would finally make the postseason for the first time in their fourth year with a record of 38-32-12, but would fall to the Flyers in a 4-2 series; Tampa wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 2003. 

Things turned around quickly for the lightning after their first decade of financial incompetence, winning their Stanley Cup in 2004 over the Calgary Flames. The franchise would take a dramatic turn after hiring Steve Yzerman as the General Manager in 2010, who would construct a team around 2008 first overall draft pick Steven Stamkos. Over the next few years, the Lightning would add Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Andrei Vasilevsky through the draft, setting them up for their first run to the Stanley Cup in 2015. Though they ultimately fell to the Chicago Blackhawks dynasty, the Lightning would return five years later for back-to-back championship wins in 2020 and 2021. 

2022 Key Stats 

The Lightning were off to a bit of a mediocre start to the 2021 season, initially struggling to find defensive stops to complement their offensive talent. However, the Lightning have since completely turned it around, once again contending with the top teams of the Atlantic Division and looking poised for yet another deep playoff run. The Lightning are currently on top of the Atlantic Division with a record of 27-9-5.

Team captain Steven Stamkos currently leads the team in overall scoring with 19 goals and 29 assists in 40 games played. Victor Hedman, who had a bit of a down year last year, is back to over a point-per-game pace with 43 points in 41 games played. Nikita Kucherov missed a good chunk of the first half of the season but has recently returned without missing a beat with 15 points in nine games. Brayden Point was also dealing with injuries but is another player on a point-per-game pace with 27 points in 27 games. If it wasn’t obvious enough, the Lightning are loaded with offensive talent. 

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is having a Vezina worthy season, with a current record of 23-6-3 and an SV% of .922. 

Championships Won by the Team 

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their first championship in 2004 over the Calgary Flames, led by players like Martin St. Louis and veteran captain Dave Andreychuk. In a controversial Game Six, the Flames would nearly score in overtime to win the cup; however, the call on the ice was no goal, remaining a contested referee decision to this day. Martin St. Louis would go on to score in double overtime, forcing a Game Seven and ultimately bringing the cup to Tampa Bay.

Tampa would win its next cup in the 2020 quarantine playoffs, playing the majority of their games in Toronto due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tampa had a lot to prove in this season, as they had broken multiple franchise records and won the President’s Trophy the year prior- only to be swept by Columbus. The two teams met again for the first round of the playoffs, featuring a game that took five different overtime periods to settle before Brayden Point scored the game-winning goal.  Tampa would eventually defeat the Dallas Stars in six games to win their first cup in 16 years.

Tampa would win the cup again the following year, this time in front of fans. The Lightning met the Montreal Canadiens in the finals, ending their Cinderella run with a dominant 4-1 series win. 

Important Team Events 

Sorry Lightning fans, but you already know what’s coming here. The 2019 playoffs saw one of the most stunning playoff series in NHL history with the Lightning facing off against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Tampa had finished the season off with an incredible 62-16-4 record, winning the President’s Trophy and the top seed in the playoffs. Nikita Kucherov won the Hart Memorial Trophy with an insane 41 goals and 87 assists, defenseman Victor Hedman brought home the Norris Trophy with 54 points on the season, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Vezina with a record of 39-10-4 and an SV% of .925%. 

Conversely, their opponent Columbus had just barely made the playoffs as the second wildcard with a respectable 47-31-4 season. The Blue Jackets had never won a playoff series in franchise history, and winning a matchup against Tampa Bay seemed like a death sentence. Obviously, that’s not quite how it ended.

Tampa would open Game One with a 3-1 lead, including a shorthanded goal scored by captain Steven Stamkos; it would be the only lead held by the team for the entire season. Columbus would roar back to win the game 4-3, proceeding to sweep the Lightning in a display of total domination. 

Luckily, the embarrassing fiasco has been quickly erased by the team’s back-to-back cup wins. Still, the Lightning are the only President’s Trophy winning team to be swept in the first round. 

Top Players 

Given that the Lightning are currently enjoying a modern-day dynasty, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that the current iteration of players holds a few records. Team captain Steven Stamkos has been with the team since being drafted in 2008 and has set the franchise record for goals with 458. Stamkos is close to breaking the franchise record for total scoring but has a bit to go before reaching Martin St. Louis. 

St. Louis currently holds the records for most assists (588), points (953), and shots (3166). St. Louis is most remembered for his goal in double overtime in Calgary to force game seven in the 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs, entering the Hall of Fame in 2018. St. Louis was one of the first forwards to utilize a smaller, speedier game in a league that focused predominantly on grit and big bodies at the time. 

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is the current franchise leader in games played (334), wins (213), and shutouts (28). The goaltender has also won the Vezina trophy in 2019.

Top Coaches 

The Tampa Bay Lightning have only had eight head coaches in franchise history, starting with Terry Crisp from 1992-1998. Crisp wasn’t particularly effective as a coach during the team’s early struggles, finishing with a record of 142-204-45 and only one playoff appearance.

John Tortorella coached the team from 2001-2008, bringing the team its first string of sustained success. Tortorella would have a career year in 2004, bringing Tampa its first Stanley Cup as well as the Jack Adams Award for the most impactful coach in the league. 

John Cooper is the current coach of the Lightning and has been leading behind the bench since 2013, making him the longest-tenured active coach in the league. Cooper has brought two Stanley Cups to Tampa in 2020 and 2021, as well as a President’s Trophy in 2019. Though Cooper was heavily criticized for his postgame comments following Tampa’s sweep in the 2019 playoffs, his back-to-back cup wins seem to have made most critics silent as of late. 

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Tampa Bay Lightning Frequently Asked Questions

What year did the Tampa Bay Lightning enter the league?

The Lightning joined the league in 1992, going 23-54-7 in their inaugural season.

Who is the best player in the history of the Lightning?

While Martin St. Louis is the leader in assists and total scoring, modern players like Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov will likely go down as some of the best players to ever play for the franchise.

How many times have the Lightning won the Stanley Cup?

The Tampa Bay Lightning have won the cup three times as of the publication of this article, winning in 2004, 2020, and 2021.

Why are they named the Lightning?

Tampa Bay selected the name “Lightning” due to Tampa’s propensity for lightning storms, considered the “Lightning Capital of North America.” 

Who are Lightning’s biggest rivals?

The Lightning’s embarrassing loss to Columbus in 2019 and a subsequent rematch in 2020 has led to some tension between the clubs, but the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals have been much more competitive overall and met against Tampa in numerous playoff series.

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