Tampa Bay Lightning Season in Review

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2023-2024 season ended with a first-round playoff loss to their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers. While that wasn’t a surprise to many, the fact they nearly got swept was an eye-opener to those who follow this team regularly. It is a dramatic fall for a team three years removed from winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup. In saying that, there were plenty of highlights that came out of this season. From individual performances to team accolades, there’s no doubt this team did the best they could with what they had.

To start, Nikita Kucherov had a season for the ages. He posted a league leading 144 points and became the first winger and fifth player in NHL history to notch 100 assists. He finished with career highs in goals, assists and points, a testament to all the hard work he put in last offseason.

After a slow start to this season, Brayden Point picked up his production once the calendar flipped to 2024. He ended the year with 46 goals, close to his career high of 51 from the 2022-23’ season. He also played his 500th NHL game on Opening Night against the Nashville Predators.

Captain Steven Stamkos led the Lightning to a playoff berth with his play down the stretch. He recorded points in nine of 10 games from March 30 on and 18 of 22 beginning February 27. Eight of those were multi-point games, something the team needed to make the postseason for a seventh consecutive season. In the playoffs, he was one of the few productive players, with five goals and six points in five games. If this isn’t enough to convince general manager Julien Brisebois to re-sign him I give up.

Defenseman Victor Hedman finished with the second-best point total of his career, notching 76 points in 78 games. He also brought a steady presence to a blue line that saw a decent amount of turnover, not only from last season to this one but during the season. This was evident in his plus-18 rating while playing with a number of partners, especially early on.

Mikhail Sergachev missed half of this season due to two separate injuries, the latter of which was gruesome to watch as he suffered a fractured left tibia and fibula on February 7 against the New York Rangers. Though it didn’t look likely that he would return prior to the second round of the playoffs, he was cleared to return prior to Game 4 versus the Florida Panthers, a mere 80 days after having surgery to repair both bones. Early in the season, he struggled, but the team was too, so it’s hard to make an accurate and fair assessment given his lack of ice time due to injury.

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy missed the first month and a half after undergoing back surgery in September. Once he returned, he struggled to return to form until after the New Year. While his .900 save percentage was the lowest of his career, it was respectable and gives him goals to work toward for next season.

Was this a successful season for the Lightning as a team? Not exactly. There were bright spots though, as a number of young guys made their debuts and left their mark with an eye towards securing themself a roster spot in the near future. In fact, you can watch them in their quest for the American Hockey League (AHL)’s Calder Cup. They defeated the Rochester Americans in five games and next face the Cleveland Monsters.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Lauren Burg

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer for “Inside the Rink.” A lifelong Tampa Bay Area resident, she graduated from the University of South Florida’s world-renowned journalism program in December 2009. While in college, she discovered hockey and the Tampa Bay Lightning. She quickly became a passionate fan, attending many games over the years. She also experienced an All-Star game in 2018, numerous road games, and, most recently, the Bolts back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Since graduating college, she’s been working hard to combine her two loves, writing and hockey, hoping to one day make that her full-time career. In her free time, she enjoys attending sporting events (both home & road when possible), taking photos, and traveling.

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