Here’s a scary thought for Tampa Bay Lightning opponents: they boast a forward line that may just be scarier than the trio featuring Steven Stamkos.
It’s still a pretty small sample size, yet it’s getting tougher to deny that Tyler Johnson might just be a star on the rise. He scored two goals to help Tampa Bay earn a 4-2 comeback win against the Ottawa Senators and currently sits with four more points (43 vs. 39) than the Lightning’s marquee player.
The two couldn’t be more different in some basic ways.
Johnson, 24, is an under-sized forward who may just become something of a spiritual successor to Martin St. Louis. If nothing else, he shares St. Louis’ distinction of being an undrafted player who is high among the ranks of the NHL’s most prolific scorers.
Stamkos, also 24, is the type of talent scouts dream about. He was the first pick of the 2008 NHL Draft and scores goals like these.
It’s not to say that Johnson is doing it alone, mind you.
Nikita Kucherov, 21, has just as many points as Stamkos with 39. Ondrej Palat, 23, has 30 points while dealing with some injury issues that sidelined him for a few games.
The point isn’t to debate Stamkos vs. Johnson, especially since the long-term outlook likely favors Tampa Bay’s big name. Instead, it’s awe-inspiring to ponder the notion that the Lightning might have two absolutely fearsome line combinations … all in their early 20’s.
Can Palat – Johnson – Kucherov maintain this pace, even to a lesser extent? One would assume that pucks will bounce their way less often, yet they may still be able to pose a consistent threat. Especially if they’re merely scratching the surface of their potential.
That all remains to be seen. In the meantime, check out video of Johnson’s two goals from Sunday: