Can the Tampa Bay Lightning Be Stopped?

Can the Tampa Bay Lightning Be Stopped?





The most dangerous club in the National Hockey League will
be at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night – and no, we’re not talking about
the home team.

Little has changed for the Lighting since the Flyers did
battle against them in Tampa Bay 10 days ago. They maintain a firm grasp on
first place in the Southeast Division by virtue of their 12 points off of a 6-2
record. They also continue to exhibit the most explosive offense in the NHL,
only while the rest of the league has come back down to earth, the Bolts are
still setting an absolutely ludicrous pace.

Tampa Bay is averaging 4.88 goals per game, over a full
point more than second-place St. Louis. They’ve been held to three goals or
less in just two games – both losses – with their lowest output of the season currently
at two. Meanwhile the Lightning have scored five on two occasions, six on two
more occasions, and have set the bar with eight goals in a game already.

It’s a lot of the usual suspects. Two-time NHL goal scoring
champion is at it again, placing third with seven tallies, and second with 16
points. Six-time All Star Martin St. Louis is hot on Stamkos’ heels in with 14
points, while captain Vincent Lecavalier has chipped in 11.

But new arrivals have made the squad more formidable to
opposing goaltenders than ever. Rookie Cory Conacher, a player that went
undrafted out of college due to his size (5-7, 176), is off to a torrid start,
leading all rookies in points (12), assists (7), plus-minus (7), and tied for
the league lead with goals (5). Free-agent pickup and former Flyer Matt Carle
has quickly installed himself as an opportune scorer as well, leading all Tampa
Bay defensemen with six points.

They’ve come together to create a devastating attack under head
coach Guy Boucher, who in his first two seasons with the Lightning had his
squad finish in the top 10 in scoring. They also fell one game short of a
Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2010-11.

They’re a force to be reckoned with against any team in the
NHL, not just the Flyers – although the Orange & Black have had their
troubles with them.

The Lightning won the last meeting 5-1. Philly got out to an
early lead on a fluke goal, but Tampa stole the momentum after killing a
four-minute 5-on-4, then took advantage of backup netminder Michael Leighton
making his first start of the year. While it was a questionable decision to
start Leights that night (or ever), Ilya Bryzgalov hasn’t fared much better
against them. Bryz went 1-2-1 against the Bolts last season, posting a 3.44 GAA
and awful .814 SV%.

It’s probably unlikely Tampa Bay continues on at quite this
obnoxious of a pace, but at this rate they are likely to finish as one of the
top two or three highest-scoring teams in the NHL this season. So far, the most
any opponent has been able to do is slow the Lightning down, and give their
forwards a chance to take advantage of suspect defense and goaltending.

Tough for a team like the Flyers, less than full strength
and hardly averaging over two goals a game, to compete in that environment. Then
again, over the long haul it’s going to be tough for anybody in the NHL to
compete with this explosive offense.

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Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.