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Quick Strikes: Lightning and Crunch post matching four goal first periods

The Lightning win 4-2 and the Crunch win 5-3.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning secured an impressive 4-2 over Chicago. Not that beating the Hawks is particularly impressive these days. But putting four goals on them in the opening period and then coasting for the final forty minutes is. The new Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point line was outstanding in the opening period. Johnson scored twice and Point scored once. Kucherov didn’t find the back of the net but he set up his linemates on all of their goals and scored three points.

This line was bonkers tonight. The passing was clean, the forecheck was strong, and the goals came in bunches. Johnson will get the headline for knotting two goals, but Kucherov was the lynchpin in all of them. Let’s also not forget Cernak getting into the action with two assists this evening. Sometimes a line just clicks the right way on certain nights and this was the line tonight. (By comparison, Stamkos was the one man wrecking crew on Wednesday).

This is another line that Cooper can throw out later in the season to wreak havoc on opposing teams. Combine that with the previous iterations he has made in the top-six rotation and it’ll be difficult to slow down Tampa Bay’s offense moving forward.

Nick Kelly at the Tampa Bay Times asked the Lightning players who they’re thankful for in their hockey lives. Yanni Gourde answered with a name that should be familiar to Lightning fans. He credited Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx with polishing his game and getting him ready for the NHL.

“I think he pushed me hard to become a better player. He put me at center, that way I was using more of my speed. He kind of gave me a little bit more freedom offensively and defensively. I always took a lot of pride in playing good in the d zone. I think he kind of gave me the push I needed at that moment to become a better player as a center, being able to fulfill all three spots as a forward. It kind of gave me a lot of flexibility of where I could play.”

The Prospects

Just like the Bolts, the Crunch also scored four goals in the opening period. They allowed Binghamton to cut the lead to one goal by the end of the second period but managed to close them out and pick up a 5-3 win. Gabe Dumont scored twice and he was joined on the scoresheet by Cory Conacher, Carter Verhaeghe, and Alex Barré-Boulet.

Conacher’s goal was a career milestone. He now has 100 career AHL goals. He could play for at least a few NHL teams but his choice to remain with the Lightning and serve as both a leader in Syracuse and an emergency call-up gives the Bolts critical organizational depth.

The League

Brian Boyle continues to be the best.

Eugene Melnyk continues to be the worst. He can’t go a week without doing something to embarrass everyone associated with the Ottawa Senators franchise. This latest bit where he hires a low rent firm to run an amateur hour bot farm generating insults against media outlets that have the audacity to write down the dumb stuff he does is particularly sad. He has just the right combination of paper-thin skin, wealth, and incompetence to ensure these stories won’t relent for as long as he owns the team.

After a group of false Twitter accounts were discovered earlier this month attempting to smear the Ottawa Citizen, it appears that five new accounts have appeared with similar intentions. Most of the previous accounts have since stopped tweeting or been suspended by Twitter, although it appears more have been activated to fill their place.

This is an interesting article that uses WAR to try to project how the Nate Schmidt contract will work out for the Golden Knights. Not surprisingly, a contract carrying a defender through his early thirties carries some risk and there’s a good chance Vegas will be trying to find a way out of this deal before it reaches its end.

In fact, if you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic, consider that Schmidt’s age-25 and age-26 WAR are above the average for players in this cohort, so even if he diminishes at a similar rate, he will not hit the bottoms that some of his peers might. But giving a player with just one year of performing somewhat above average with top pairing minutes a six-year contract for his age-28 to 33 seasons is more likely than not a rough move.

The folks at On the Forecheck looked back on the 2008 draft to assess how well the Predators did with benefit of hindsight. The highlight of that draft for Nashville was Roman Josi. But late in the draft, they made a pick with several Lightning connections. They used a pick acquired from Tampa to select Anders Lindback who would later spend two disappointing seasons with the Bolts.

The fifth to last pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft was used to select Anders Lindback. The Predators previously owned the 196th overall pick in the seventh round, but that was sent to Tampa Bay for Jan Hlavac on Feb. 26, 2008 and later flipped to Philadelphia in a deal involving Vaclav Prospal.

The Predators acquired this pick from San Jose on draft day with the 98th overall pick in 2009 that was used to select Craig Smith in exchange for the 106th overall pick in 2008 - Harri Sateri.

Lindback never panned out as the true starter some had hoped, but 130 games is not bad for a seventh-round pick. The Predators paid Lindback a total of $1.475M over the course of his career, which equals $37,820.51 per game and $92,187.50 per win with the franchise.