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Quick Strikes: Nikita Kucherov gets an A+

Report cards for the Tampa Bay Lightning forwards, Syracuse Crunch coaches get locked in a room, and Yzerman attends a junior hockey game.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

GeoFitz4 hands out report cards to the Tampa Bay Lightning forwards. Unsurprisingly, Nikita Kucherov leads the class with an A+. “Kucherov proved himself an elite winger this season. He did it all even when he had a rotating cast of line mates and at times in the latter part of the season carried the team’s offense. Kucherov is easily the Lightning’s MVP for the season, and if they had gotten into the playoffs, he surely would have garnered some serious Hart Trophy votes for league MVP. ” [Raw Charge]

Kucherov’s prowess continues to get him noticed by people outside of Tampa. “No team in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race put up more than Tampa Bay's 44 points. The Bolts went on a flaming tear after the All-Star break, and Kucherov was the guy pouring fuel. Tampa Bay won 20 of its last 31 games, and Kucherov was a 1.79 point-per-game player while racking up 34 points in those victories. The Lightning finished just one point out of a playoff spot. Is Kucherov more deserving of a Hart than McDavid or Crosby? Not sure. But he's probably deserving of a nomination.” [SB Nation]

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch play Game 3 of their best-of-five series tomorrow night. Here's hoping for a repeat performance by Tye McGinn. "Matt [Taormina] made a great pass. I knew I had all the time. So I just needed to make sure I settled the puck down and made a good shot,'' McGinn said. "Overtime, double OT, those are kind of kind of the plays that score the goals, those fluke plays, just crashing the net, rebound goals." [Syracuse.com]

Crunch goaltending coach David Alexander found himself locked in the coach's room at the War Memorial Arena yesterday.

In the video, Tampa Bay Lightning Director of Player Development Stacy Roest suggests using skate blades to pry the hinges off the door, but all Alexander really wants is food (sandwiches, pizza, tacos, and pretty much anything from Astro Doughnuts).

Taylor Raddysh (#17 in white) scored a goal and an assist while Anthony Cirelli (#22) picked up an assist as the Erie Otters fell 6-3 to the Owen Sound Attack. Erik Cernak (#14) was held off the score sheet. Owen leads the series 2-1.

Christopher Paquette (#12 in white) and Matt Spencer (#27) were both held off the score sheet as the Peterborough Petes lost 2-1 to the Mississauga Steelheads in double overtime. Mississauga leads the series 3-0.

Speaking of prospects, it looks like Steve Yzerman was scouting the Steelheads-Petes game. Or maybe he was just out there to support his old junior team - Yzerman used to play for Peterborough. (Seriously though, who was he scouting?)

The Game

A scientific approach to the best second-round series in the NHL playoffs. Based on a complex algorithm weighing several key factors including hatred, star power, freshness, and beards. [SB Nation]

Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators, Andrew Cogliano of the Anaheim Ducks, and Derek Ryan of the Carolina Hurricanes are the finalists for the 2016-17 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. It is awarded “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” [Puck Daddy]

Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman just fired assistant coach Mike Kitchen - and he appears to have made that decision without consulting head coach Joel Quinneville. "Multiple league sources told the Tribune that the decision to fire Kitchen did not originate with Quenneville and that Quenneville was upset by the move. Kitchen's firing is likely to reignite conflict between Quenneville and the front office over coaching and personnel that existed before the 2013 and 2015 championships helped maintain peace in the organization." [Chicago Tribune]

The Buffalo Sabres recently cleaned house. “How would you describe the events of last week to someone who doesn’t follow the Buffalo Sabres? Business as usual? A shake up that was long overdue? High treason against all that is righteous and true in Sabreland? Here are my top takeaways from two of the more fascinating days in recent Sabres history.” [Die By The Blade]