Andrei Vasilevskiy discusses playing for Team Russia, embracing his role as the Tampa Bay Lightning starting goaltender, and his perspective on Nikita Kucherov’s controversial comments. Personal favorite quote: “If I sit back and relax, there are 20 more guys like me. They are more than ready to kick my ass and say, ‘That’s it. You haven’t worked. You’ve lost ground.’ Everyone understands it. It’s the NHL, after all. If you don’t stay focused, you’ll be asked to leave.” [Raw Charge]
How a bad take is born: A play in one act. Justin steps imaginatively into an editorial meeting at a small southern paper. It’s a genuinely funny read and I highly recommend it. [Raw Charge]
In this week’s mailbag, Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns weighs in on the emergence of Jake Dotchin, interns working for the Bolts, his favorite music, and the carousel of call-ups from Syracuse. [Tampa Bay Lightning]
The Syracuse Crunch will face the Toronto Marlies in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. The first game of that match-up will take place at the War Memorial Arena on Friday. Take a look back at their incredible season.
Ryan Lohin was named Rookie of the Year for his outstanding performance as a freshman on the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks.
The Erie Otters defeated the Owen Sound Attack 7-2 to earn the title of Western Conference Champions and advance to the finals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Anthony Cirelli (#22 in white) has a monster four-point game (3G, 1A) including a short-handed goal in the third period to complete a hat-trick. Erik Cernak (#14) and Taylor Raddysh (#17) were held off the score sheet. The Otters will face the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL Finals.
The Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Chicoutimi Saguenéens 6-5 to advance to the finals in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Mathieu Joseph (#21 in white) picked up two assists and Bokondji Imama (#51) scored a goal an assist. Imama’s goal was the game-winner and it was assisted by Joseph. The Sea Dogs will face the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the President Cup Finals.
With nine members of the Tampa Bay Lightning participating across three teams at the IIHF World Championship, we'll be keeping a close eye on Canada (Jon Cooper, Alex Killorn, and Brayden Point), Russia (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and prospect Nikita Gusev) and Sweden (Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman).
The Worlds officially begin next week, but both Russia and Sweden are currently taking part in a series of pre-tournament matches known as the Czech Hockey Games.
Stralman and Hedman scored the only goals for Sweden as they lost 3-2 to Finland.
Nikita Gusev scored a pair of beautiful goals for Russia. The first was a game-tying goal to send the match to overtime; the second was a slick shootout goal to secure a win against the Czech Republic. Kucherov, Namestnikov, and Vasilevskiy did not play in the game, presumably to rest them before the actual tournament begins.
Is Alain Vigneault responsible for the New York Rangers loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night? “It’s clear he’s not capable of removing himself from the ideology that his trusted veterans are always the best option even when they aren’t. His usage of players continues to boggle the mind, and the media continues to not ask about it so no one really knows what’s going on in his head. It’s infuriating, and it’s not changing because he seems incapable of changing.” [Blue Shirt Banter]
“A season ago, the Penguins were shaking their heads and on the verge of elimination in the Eastern Conference finals despite dominant shot totals and puck possession time. The pesky Tampa Bay Lightning, lifted by outstanding play from their backup goalie, used a counterattacking strategy to almost clinically exploit and capitalize on the Penguins' up-tempo, puck-pressuring style... Did coach Mike Sullivan take a page out of the Lightning's 2016 playbook, or did the Penguins find this counterstrike identity organically? A little of both, Sullivan explained.” [Trib Live]