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Morning Skate: Who can stop the Tampa Bay Lightning? Right now, no one

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Almost no one has been able to slow the NHL’s best team since the start of the season.

There aren’t many teams in the NHL that are as hot as the Tampa Bay Lightning are right now. After 19 games, the Lightning have just lost four over the first month and a half of the 2017-18 season, and only in two of those losses did they not gain any points.

So, after 19 games played, the Lightning sit first in the NHL with 32 points on the season. Tampa Bay is currently rolling on a five-game win streak, as they’ve lost just one game in the month of November so far. They’re near the top in the league in a bunch of statistics, including goals-for and goal differential, as their offense has been the most dynamic as it has ever been.

The addition of Steven Stamkos back into the lineup has rejuvinated the Lightning, who failed to make the playoffs last year by the skin of their teeth. Now, Tampa Bay has two forwards — Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov — above 30 points on the season after 19 games played.

That offense was on display in top form when facing former goaltender Ben Bishop against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. The Lightning dismantled Bishop for a 6-1 victory, where five different players notched a goal in the dominant win. The Stars aren’t the first team the Lightning has dropped four-plus goals on, as Tampa Bay has had 12 games equalling or exceeding that total.

It’s clear as to why the Lightning are leading the NHL in GF on the year with 77 in 19 games. Their monstrous forward depth is difficult to contain, especially when Stamkos and Kucherov are at their best leading the team. And when they’ve needed it, they’ve gotten the goaltending required from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has been fantastic in his own right this year with a .932 save percentage.

As it stands midway through the second month of the season, not many teams haven’t been able to stop the Tampa Bay freight train. And if the Lightning keep playing the way they have, not many teams will.

More hockey

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Kamenev will miss “significant time” with broken arm after taking a hit Thursday night.
  • Radko Gudas was tossed from the Philadelphia Flyers game last night after a slashing game misconduct penalty, and he too might miss time if suspended.
  • The Red Wings will be without Luke Witkowski for 10 games as the switch forward/defenseman came back onto the ice after being ejected in a mid-game brawl.
  • The injuries are piling up for the Bruins, who placed both Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork on IR this week.
  • Jonathan Toews wants you to buy a “Toewster” with his face on it for charity. Yes, really.
  • Will there be another hockey team in Texas? The NHL held “preliminary discussions” with Rockets owner about adding team in Houston, per reports.
  • Scheduling and travel are the Coyotes enemy of the season, but they won their first regulation game last night!
  • Cam Atkinson has signed a seven-year, $40.25 million contract extension with the Blue Jackets.
  • If the Senators want to thrive on defense, Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci must be split up.

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