The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their 50th win on the season on Saturday, March 2, bringing their points total on the season to 104. The team continues to run away with the lead for the President’s Trophy, holding a 15 point edge over the next best team, the Calgary Flames, as of Monday, March 4.
Their 50th win also matched the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings’ record for fastest to reach the 50 win mark in NHL history. It is unlikely the Lightning will match Detroit’s points record of 131, as they would need to pick up 27 of the team’s remaining 32 available points, meaning they cannot lose three games in regulation the rest of the way. Such a feat would be remarkable, but would also stretch the resources for a team that should otherwise be able to coast fairly comfortably to the top record in the NHL.
That’s not to say the team should take their foot off the gas though. While winning the President’s trophy is an amazing accomplishment, it rarely leads to success winning the Stanley Cup. Since the trophy was introduced in the 1985-1986 season, only eight teams have won both awards, with the last team to do so the 2012-2013 Chicago Blackhawks.
In fact, only 11 teams have even made it that far, while six have been bounced from the playoffs in the first round. To say the odds are not in their favor might be an understatement, though the Lightning feel like a team that has a chance to buck the trend.
It will be tough, but doable. The Lightning easily have the most dangerous offense in the league, scoring 20 more goals than the next team, the San Jose Sharks, so far this season. Combine that with the fourth stingiest defense in the league with 174 goals allowed, and it is easy to see why Tampa Bay is the best team in hockey right now.
Right now though, the road to the Stanley Cup finals would be pretty rough. If the season ended as of the time of this article’s writing, the Lightning would get the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round a team that would not be an easy out. Follow that up with a round against either the Boston Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs and just getting to the Eastern Conference finals will be challenging.
Bringing both the President’s trophy and the Stanley Cup to Tampa would be an excellent achievement, further cementing the 2018-2019 Lightning as one for the record books. It is an attainable goal though, so the Bay area looks to be in for yet another exciting set of springtime hockey.