The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: TBL continue to roll, Varlamov’s brilliance

The Tampa Bay Lightning are rolling and they headline today’s edition of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

It is time for another edition of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, and today we are going to delve into the Tampa Bay Lightning being absolute juggernauts, Semyon Varlamov doing Semyon Varlamov things, more drama in Columbus with the Blue Jackets, the Vancouver Canucks continuing to bomb and a whole lot more.

We’re going to take a look at all the action across the NHL on Monday and Tuesday with a combined total of 13 games being played, with plenty of talking points to break down and a plethora of highlights to delve into. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from the last few days in the National Hockey League.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from TBL to COVID-19

The Good

Andrei Vasilevskiy (88)

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88). Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning – The reigning Stanley Cup Champions are rolling right now and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Tampa Bay Lightning are one of the best teams in the NHL. Currently top of the Central Division and third in the NHL, the Lightning are 9-1-1 on the year and it looks like that they will make light work of the Central.

It has been a good week for Tampa Bay so far too considering that they beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 on the road on Monday, before they thrashed the same opponent 6-1 the following night. It was two absolute dominant displays from the Lightning who are getting contributions from up and down the lineup, while Steven Stamkos is playing at the peak of his powers with 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in 11 games. It won’t be a surprise at all if the Tampa Bay Lightning were to defend their crown this year.

Semyon Varlamov (40)

Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Semyon Varlamov – The New York Islanders pride themselves on their defense and their stellar goaltending, and they can rely on the likes of Semyon Varlamov to stand on his head and win them games when they really him to. That was certainly the case on Monday night with the 32-year-old stopping all 30 shots for his second shutout against the New York Rangers this season, becoming the first goalie in franchise history to record multiple shutouts against the Blueshirts in a single season. Not a bad night at all from Varlamov.

Auston Matthews (34)

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs / Auston Matthews – The Toronto Maple Leafs are the best team in the NHL right now, and they pass the eye test too given that they have been pretty dominant while they have also found a way to gut out wins when they’ve not been at their best, something they have struggled with in past years.

However, these don’t appear to be your father’s Toronto Maple Leafs and one of their headline acts has been Auston Matthews, who has seemingly elevated his game to a whole new level. The superstar center had scored in eight straight games prior to Thursday, while leading the entire National Hockey League in goals with 11, including scoring the go-ahead goal in the 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

The Bad

Matt Duchene (95)

Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene (95). Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Predators / Vancouver Canucks – We’ve looked at both these teams in depth and will continue to do given their horrific starts to the 2020-21 season, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better for either team. For instance, the Predators lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday before being thrashed 6-1 the following night, allowing a grand total of 10 goals in two games and lighting the lamp just twice despite their plethora of potent weapons.

It hasn’t been much better for the Vancouver Canucks who appeared to be a team on the rise, headlined by a young talent-laden core. However, they’ve taken huge steps backwards and Monday was a new low as they failed to take advantage of a Toronto Maple Leafs team who were not at their best, instead dropping a 3-1 decision to cut them further adrift in an ultra-competitive North Division.

The Ugly

Patrik Laine (29)

Patrik Laine #29 of the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Patrik Laine – We covered it as to why, whether you like him or not, John Tortorella’s record with the Columbus Blue Jackets speaks for itself and his decision to bench his new shiny toy in Patrik Laine for much of the 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday was probably with merit.

Well, it has since emerged that Laine said something disrespectful to a member of the coaching staff, which is why he was sat for a large chunk of the second period and the entire third period. It has since been dealt with and Laine has since said all the right things, but it was yet more unwanted attention for a franchise that has already had to deal with a boatload of drama this season.

Vegas Golden Knights, NHL & COVID-19 – Ah yes, COVID-19 drama is back. We shouldn’t joke but the NHL didn’t exactly cover itself in glory on Tuesday night when Vegas Golden Knights forward Tomas Nosek tested positive and was pulled from the game against the Anaheim Ducks in the second period and immediately placed in isolation. So far, an outbreak has been avoided but with players getting tested positive every morning and getting the results back that day, why was Nosek allowed to hit the ice if his results were unknown? It was a shambles of a situation, especially considering that the Golden Knights had only just returned from a long hiatus due to COVID-19. The NHL needs to get a handle on this whole situation and fast, like yesterday.