Lightning will be challenged on West Coast trip

By Ken Filler
Nov. 09, 2017

The Lightning will take the the NHL’s best of record of 11-2-2 to the West coast as they open up a three game trip against the San Jose Sharks tonite before heading to LA tomorrow and then on to Anaheim on Sunday.

This trip is always a tough one for most teams due to the three hour time difference and the fact that all three teams are usually Stanley Cup contenders at seasons end.

The Sharks have gotten off to a slow start by Shark standards going 8-5 to start the season, but are still a very tough team to play against. The Sharks PK is second in the league at 89.6% and they have allowed just four PPG all season and just two since opening night. Norris trophy winner Brent Burns along with Marc Eduard-Vlasic anchor the PK unit.

The Lightning continue to have an impressive power play unit anchored by the NHL’s top duo of Stamkos and Kucherov. The Lightning rank 2nd in the league at 28.8%.

This will be an interesting dynamic to watch in this game the Sharks PK vs, the Lightning PP.

Martin Jones of the Sharks has being playing very well in goal as of late winning his last four. Jones is 7-3 on the season with a 1.98 GAA.

Joe Thornton is another year older, but still remains one of the games great set-up guys.

Mikhail Sergachev the Lightning rookie sensation continues to draw rave reviews for his play and leads all rookies with 12 points. His ability to get to the puck and find the open man with his passing continues to improve with every game. I know its way to early and there is a lot of hockey to played, but you can write in the name of Mikhail Sergachev on your ballet for rookie of the year nominee.

As good as this Lightning team has been up to this point in the season, there are still area’s of opportunity. The Play of the defense has been inconsistent at times. The Lightning still have moments where they seem to have mental lapses at certain points during the games and kind of loose their focus. Case in point the third period of the game with the Blue Jackets last Saturday night. The Lightning had the game in hand 4-2 and before you could blink it was 4-4.

This is something the Lightning needs to focus on and improve. Playing with lead in the third period and closing it out. The Lightning are currently 24th in the league in GAA at 2.73. Defense wins games in the playoffs so this is an area that the Lightning will need to tighten up.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in goal for the Lightning tonight. Vasilevskiy is 11-1-1 with a 2.52 GAA. The Lightning are the best scoring team in the NHL led by the 1-2 scoring combination of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports