The Tampa Bay Lightning fired a big warning shot on Monday with their 7-1 shellacking of the previously-undefeated Canadiens, and Peter DeBoer heard it loud and clear.
Devils coach DeBoer on #TBLightning win last night: “That’s eye opening when you see a team win that way against a very good team.”
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) October 14, 2014
The Lightning, who host New Jersey at Amalie Arena tonight, come into tonight’s game having captured five of a possible six points to start the year and boast the NHL’s leading scorer in Victor Hedman (seven points in three games). Though it’s early, the Bolts have managed to average four goals per game (versus 1.67 allowed) and excel on special teams — the power play is going at a 40 percent clip, and the team has killed all nine of its shorthanded situations this season.
That said, two things to consider:
1. Tampa Bay hasn’t exactly faced the stiffest competition. Yes, Montreal was 3-0 heading into last night’s game, but two of those wins were via shootout and all three were comebacks (including digging out of a three-goal hole to Philly on Saturday.)
Prior to that, the Bolts needed OT to beat lowly Florida in the season opener, and lost 3-2 in a shootout to Ottawa over the weekend.
2. New Jersey has opened some eyes as well. Through two games (and two wins), the Devils have scored a whopping 11 goals — a stark contrast to last year, when it took them five games to get to that same mark. Getting off to a 2-0 start is also of significance, because the Devils went 0-4-3 to begin last season and didn’t get their first regulation win until Oct. 19.
“We’re playing with confidence and we’re playing with skill and speed,” goalie Cory Schneider said, per NJ.com. “We’re getting good bounces but I think it’s because we’re doing the right things and playing the right way.
“It’s probably not sustainable, but we’re enjoying it while we can.”