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Quick Strikes: The Tampa Bay Lightning spend the day in the community

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Nikita Kucherov is elite, and Wayne Gretzky is a legend (obviously).

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) is congratulated as he scored the game winning goal during a shoot out against the Ottawa Senators at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

The aim of the game is scoring more goals than your opponent. This year, Nikita Kucherov has been doing it better than anyone else and is in some elite company when it comes to scoring 50 points this quickly in the post-lockout era. [The Hockey News]

“No doubt, on a personal level, for Kucherov to have already hit the 50-point plateau is nothing short of spectacular. Last season was unquestionably his breakout campaign as he racked up 40 goals and 85 points, but he’s already more than halfway to eclipsing both of those totals with fewer than half the games played.”

Viewer discretion is advised. If you are vulnerable towards adorableness or Brayden Point (I’m looking at you, Saima) please prepare accordingly.

HOLIDAY THEMED LIGHTNING FAN POLL INCOMING! [Raw Charge]

“My question this week is, what one aspect of the extravagant Christmas holiday season would you eliminate for the sake of being able to spend more time enjoying the (so far) extravagant Lightning hockey season? You only get to pick one because we’re all in this together, sucker.”

Cedric Paquette, Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson, and Mikhail Sergachev spent the day with Publix and the United Way to help bring food to people in need.

The picture of Sergy and the baby is just too cute.

Ruslan Fedotenko was out there shopping too!

The third-wheel of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s most lethal line deserves some credit for helping make his line mesh so well. [NHL dot com]

“‘Just trying to play my game and just having fun with it,’ Namestnikov said when asked about his breakout season. ‘I'm playing with some amazing players and it just has been fun. They make it easy.’”

“But why is it so easy? Why does Namestnikov fit so well alongside Stamkos and Kucherov?”

The Bolts share their secrets and techniques for succceeding in the shootout, something they’ve done very well lately. [Tampa Bay Times]

"On a natural breakaways you’re getting chased. You don’t have anything in your head. You’re just reacting and you’re trying to go as fast as you can. In a shootout, you can go as slow as you want. That kind of messes with some people, because maybe you have different things you do when you go fast, but it’s tough to go fast when no one is behind you." - Tyler Johnson

Meanwhile, Slater Koekkoek spent the day at Florida Hospital, bringing toys and fun for the kids. Give Slater more ice-time! It’s for the children!

The Lightning are going to host Hockey Fights Cancer Night when the Bolts host the Minnisota Wild on Saturday December 23rd. [NHL dot com]

“As in years past, the theme of Tampa Bay Fights Cancer Night is to raise awareness in support of finding a cure for the disease, as well as spread the message that courage, strength and love can build bridges to a better tomorrow. This centerpiece event will host nearly 2,000 individuals affected by the disease or helping to find a cure in Tampa Bay.”

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch exploded for an 8-2 win on the road over the Bellevile Senators on Friday night. Erik Condra scored a goal and recorded two assists in his first game back since November 15th when he got injured. Mathieu Joseph and Matthew Peca also had three-point nights. [Syracuse]

Mat Bodie had the only multi-goal performance as the Crunch stopped a two-game losing streak, move to 15-11-1-2 on the season and build a 4-0-0-1 lead in the eight-game season series against the Senators.”

Your mother still loves you lots, Connor.

The Game

Ron MacLean - the Beyonce of Canada - sits you by a warm fire and tells you “A story for a winter’s night.” [Sportsnet]

“Christmas Eve. Your little house is warm and through a frosted window, the cold sliver of moon paints the endless smoke-coloured snow, and you hear laughter and music rising up the falling night. Part of you is happy to turn off the light and go to bed, thankful for the day, and part of you wishes to step out into whatever is happening. You have that choice. You are free. If not, to you I bow and pray.”

A day after Dustin Brown reached 1000 games, Matt Cullen hit 1400 games play in the NHL.

P.K. Subban went full Father Time and dressed undercover for a holiday surprise! [NHL dot com]

Wayne Gretzky doesn’t need someone to go bat for him to argue that hes the greatest player to ever play the game (The Great One if you will). But Steve Dangle does so anyway because sometimes it’s good to be in awe of greatness. [Sportsnet]

“Well, Gretzky played in the high-flying 1980s, which was an extremely inflated, high-scoring era, so adjusting for era makes his numbers take quite the dip. It’s not Gretzky’s fault, yet his numbers take a beating.”

The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the entire five-minute overtime against the columbus Blue Jackets. How did they do it? Don’t just say Crosby, please. [Pensburgh]

“From the jump, Crosby’s ridiculous skating ability eludes Josh Anderson thanks to his edges and sets him up for a course to his favorite part of the ice to quarterback from: behind the opposing team’s cage. Anderson, clearly beat, tries pushing Crosby from behind, only to assist him around the net, losing his stick in the process.”

Brian Elliott throws in a little twirl with his saves against the Buffalo Sabres.

Who should you keep an eye on at the World Juniors this month? Here are 10 drafted players who might peak your interest. [NHL dot com]

Casey Mittelstadt, C, United States (Buffalo Sabres): The No. 8 pick of the 2017 draft will play his first meaningful games in his future NHL city. Mittelstadt, 19, played left wing on the top U.S. line during the World Junior Summer Showcase, but played center and wing during the final evaluation camp, and could be in both spots during the tournament.”

Highlight of the Night: Jonathan Huberdeau is on a two-on-two with Nick Bjugstad but he holds, toe-drags, toe-drags some more, then finally pops the puck up with a back-hand roof shot. My favorite part is how his right foot never really moves, giving him a perfect anchor to do all those crazy moves from his left foot and hands. Always look at the feet, kids!