By Glenn Kaplan, Staff Writer
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been the most dominant team in the 2018-2019 season. Last Monday, they defeated the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 and clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history with the win.
The Presidents’ Trophy goes to the team with the most points in the standings throughout the regular season. However, teams that win the Presidents’ Trophy don’t have a very good track record of winning the Stanley Cup title.
The last time a team won the Stanley Cup and the Presidents’ Trophy in the same year was the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks, which occurred in a shortened season.
The Lightning should be the heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup, but the last three winners of the Presidents’ Trophy have failed to advance passed the second round of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay’s record so far this season is 58-14-4 with 120 points with an absurd goal differential of 99.
Left winger Nikita Kucherov is most likely going to win the Art Ross Trophy for the most points scored in a season and will contend for the Hart Trophy for league MVP. Kucherov leads the league with 120 points, 12 more than the next closest player.
Center Brayden Point’s breakout season has been key in Tampa Bay’s impressive season. Point is on pace to set career-highs in almost every major statistic this season.
The emergence of players like Kucherov and Point have led to people forgetting about star center Steven Stamkos. Injuries have caused a down season for the Lightning’s captain, but his talent can’t be ignored when looking toward the postseason.
Tampa Bay also has a solid blueline led by defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Victor Hedman, leading the Lightning to allow the third-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.
Andrei Vasilevskiy might be the best goalie in the NHL right now. He is one of the few goalies in the entire league that can take over a game with his athleticism.
Vasilevskiy could win the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goalie for the first time in his career. He currently leads the NHL in wins with 36.
While its incredible regular season is something to be proud of, Tampa Bay’s postseason disappointments have been the story.
This team has reached the conference finals in three of the last four seasons, but they only reached the Stanley Cup Finals once in that span and lost to Chicago in that series.
If the Lightning were to win their first-round series, a difficult second-round matchup against either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Boston Bruins could have Tampa Bay fans worried about an early exit.
With the Lightning seeking their first title since 2004, hopes are high that this year’s squad can be the one to do it. But only time will tell.