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Quick Strikes: Martin St. Louis pays a special visit to Tampa and the Lightning defeat the Panthers

Marty is honored by the Lightning.

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NHL: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A very happy Thanksgiving to our American readers, and a happy Thursday to everyone else! Regardless of whether you are celebrating today or not, we hope you have something to be thankful for today, because we sure are thankful for you all.

Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning welcomed former captain and recent Hall of Fame inductee Martin St. Louis back to their arena. This was Marty’s first return to Amalie arena since joining the HoF, and he was warmly welcomed back by many.

During his pregame press conferences, Marty talked about his experience and what it feels like to be part of the HoF:

He was particularly touched by the Lightning’s show of support during the ceremony:

The most important thing for me playing this game was not just the game itself but the teammates, the friendships that you make along the way. My teammates were always very important to me. I wanted to be around them. I want to spend time with them. The fact some of my former teammates, staff members, they took time out of their season and their schedule and were there supporting me, it was very important to me. I got a whiff that they’d be possibly coming, but I didn’t think they’d be front and center which I think it definitely triggered some emotion for me. It threw me off my speech a little bit

St. Louis, logically, has been the inspiration for many players of a smaller stature than your average NHL’er. Included among those players is, of course, current Lightning forwards Yanni Gourde and Tyler Johnson.

“(Seeing St. Louis) basically just says it’s possible, it’s doable,” Gourde said. “It gives you maybe the push you need at that time. Everybody is telling you you can’t, and then this guy is doing it. He’s showing you can do it at an NHL level, and be a top player in the league every year. He gives you courage to keep playing.”

After all of that, the Lightning still had a game to play. Game day started with the news that Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck had underwent ankle surgery and would be out indefinitely. The injury, as Lauren covered in our pregame preview, only added to the mounting list of injured players in the NHL.

Speaking of injured players in the NHL, Lauren did an incredible amount of research yesterday and complied this list:

Did someone say injured players? Oh, Vasy. That boot.

Anyway, back to the game...after getting off to a bit of a slow start, the Lightning remembered that it wasn’t quite Thanksgiving yet and decided to play some hockey.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper made some changes in the top six tonight swapping Nikita Kucherov and Yanni Gourde. I was skeptical before the game but given how things went, I like it. Putting Point and Kucherov on the same line is a terrifying proposition for opposing teams. They didn’t fully find their stride tonight but they will. And when they do, they’ll be a nightmare.

Meanwhile, the new line centered by Steven Stamkos was outrageous. They outshot the Panthers by more than 20 while they were on the ice. That’s an unheard of number. Stamkos had one of his best games of the year scoring a goal and assisting on three others. His all-around offensive game is overwhelming.

Let’s play a game of, “one of these things is not like the other,” shall we?

In our Raw Charge highlight from yesterday, Geo took a look at the first draft picks from every country the Lightning has drafted from. It was a neat walk down memory lane in a unique format.

If you’re looking specifically for a dessert dish today that would honor the Bolts, the Lightning are the equivalent of apple pie a la mode (according to ESPN, anyway):

Oh man, just think about it: flavorful apples, gooey filling, delectable crust, warmed up to the right temperature to marry itself to that scoop of vanilla ice cream that tops it. On paper, it’s perfection ... but what if the apples are overripe? What if the crust falls apart at the last minute? What happens if Andrei Vasilevskiy breaks his foot again in May?! WHAT THEN?!

The Syracuse Crunch got some good news on their own injury front last night: their captain, Gabriel Dumont, returned to action.

Speaking of the Crunch, they had their own game to play. After getting off to a similar slow start to the Lightning, Syracuse also took off and came back from behind yet again to win against the Binghamton Devils.

Cory Conacher continues to dominate...

...while Connor Ingram continues to be up to the challenge of being the Crunch’s #1.

The Crunch is gearing up for its annual Black Friday home game tomorrow night.

Speaking of Black Friday, local fans are going to want to keep an eye out for this yearly special:

You know what would be a great gift for the Crunch fan/Tampa prospect fan in your life? One of the jerseys from Syracuse’s Hockey Fights Cancer game last weekend. You can bid now on those that remain.

Did someone say prospects? Bolt Prospects’ new rankings are out, and they are decidedly Crunch-centric.

The Crunch is up 8 spots in one blogger’s power rankings, mostly thanks to their powerful power play. Their play as of late certainly has given the team a new swagger, and the results are in the pudding, as they say.

Older Crunch fans who remember the Columbus era were excited to learn yesterday that former Syracuse forward Joe Motzko is returning to the War Memorial tomorrow night:

I hadn't noticed the small Lightning logo on the Orlando Solar Bears’ uniforms before. It looks great!

The NHL has fined Mikko Rantanen of the Colorado Avalanche $2,000 for diving. Whoops?

Former Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin isn’t afraid to own his mistakes as he looks towards a new life with the Anaheim Ducks. (Paywalled)

The league is looking towards an interesting addition next season:

Iowa of the AHL, farm club to the Minnesota Wild, are seeing success on the backs of prospect Kaapo Kahkonen and veteran Andrew Hammond.

Former Crunch netminder Michael Leighton made his season debut with AHL Ontario last night.

We have some sad news to pass along - Former NHL forward Ryane Clowe, current head coach of Newfoundland of the ECHL, isn’t doing well. He’s currently on medical leave from his position, and it doesn’t seem like he’s coming back any time soon. We wish him the best, and hope he’ll be back behind the bench for the Growlers soon.