The Tampa Bay Lightning were supposed to struggle out of the gate this season with their longtime franchise goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy out for a few months after having back surgery, but at the entering the month of November, the Lightning have continued to play at a high level without their star.
The biggest surprise for the Tampa Bay Lightning to start the season.
Jonas Johansson has stepped into the Lightning’s net and played some great hockey through his first eight games as starter. He has posted a .922 save percentage and is averaging just 2.73 goals against per game.
In his last three games, Johansson has posted two shut outs against the Hurricanes and Sharks and stopped 39 of 43 shots in an overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken.
Every night, Johansson is giving the Lightning an opportunity to win, and that is all the Bolts can ask for while they wait for Vasilevskiy to get healthy. It is also worth pointing out that Johansson numbers are actually better than Vasilevskiy’s last season.
In 2022-23, Vasilevskiy played in 60 games putting up a .915 save percentage, obviously that is a heck of lot more games than Johansson has played in, but on paper Johansson is really running with this opportunity.
Once Vasilevskiy is back and healthy Johansson will make for a very capable back up for the remainder of the season, he definitely will be a step up from Brian Elliott last season.
This is Johansson’s seventh season in the NHL having played in 43 games over the course of his career. He spent his first two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, the team that drafted him before he spent the next four years playing for the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers.
Even though things have been going well in Tampa, the Lightning do still have to play well, there are a few teams they have to worry about. The Bolts are 4-2-3 on the season but with the Atlantic Division looking even better with Detroit taking a big step forward and Boston/Toronto still pushing for a championship, the Lightning do not want to be the odd team out come April.
The Lightning start a four game road trip tonight in Columbus before they face off against three divisional opponents in a row in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.