Only one NHL game today on this holiday Monday, an afternoon affair in Boston between the Bruins and the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.
First place in the Eastern Conference, the Lightning (12-4-0) head into today’s contest on a four-game winning streak, with seven wins in their last eight.
Pretty good, right? Well, their overall record doesn’t even tell the whole impressive story. Of Tampa Bay’s 12 victories, six have come against the Western Conference, including two over the defending champion Blackhawks and others over winning clubs in St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. In fact, the Lightning are a perfect 6-0-0 against the West, which is especially noteworthy given that conference’s dominance over the East this season.
Perhaps the biggest key to the Lightning’s success? Goalie Ben Bishop, who boasts an 11-2-0 record with a .927 save percentage. Hockey’s most important position had been a weakness for the Lightning in recent seasons; it’s a strength now.
Others making positive impacts for Tampa Bay include free-agent addition Valtteri Filppula and 24-year-old Alex Killorn (who? read about him here). And, of course, there’s Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, who’ve combined for 42 points in 16 games.
The Lightning have, however, had trouble with the Bruins this season. Boston took the first meeting on Oct. 3, 3-1, and the next, 5-0, on Oct. 19.