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Quick Strikes: Nikita Kucherov lights lamps, World Junior Championship tournament gets started

Welcome back from the holiday daze!

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, everyone! Welcome back to Quick Strikes. Thanks for being understanding about its absence while all of us here at Raw Charge took a little break to be with family and friends. We hope you all had a great few days whether you were celebrating a holiday or just relaxing! ~ Alex

To start us off, we have a glorious commercial staring Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov that you might have just missed. Context: He lights lamps well.

Funny #christmas Commercial with Nikita Kucherov (Source: @dmilstein75 / @geico ) Chuck Cowart

Posted by David Benmocha on Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Before the break, the Lightning were dominating, taking seven of eight points during their West Coast road swing. Rick Stroud discussed that and more in his podcast.

How good has Lightning coach Jon Cooper been at the coach’s challenge? Uh...meh?

Here’s a reminder from the Lightning about construction around Amalie Arena and how it will affect game day traffic moving forward:

Lauren pulled out the big guns for her amazing preview of the 2019 World Junior Championship. Covering strengths and weaknesses, stats, players, and many other topics about the teams involved, her coverage is not to be missed!

For the first time since 2006, the World Juniors are back in Vancouver (and Victoria). That year, Canada won gold over Russia, and the Finns defeated the Americans for bronze. Thirteen years later, we’re looking at another tournament with five or six teams in medal contention. And thanks to the way the groups were divided, we could see maximum levels of chaos in quarter-final matchups.

Speaking of WJC, other outlets have also started their coverage. Mile High Hockey has a summary specifically related to the Colorado Avalanche's prospects, while EP Rinkside picked out a few prospects to keep an eye on.

The NHL has often tweaked the goaltender equipment requirements, and this season they’ve made changes to the size of chest protectors. The change has taken some getting used to, and bruises have been a part of that process.

John Dellapina, the NHL’s senior vice president of communications, said the league’s focus, led by direction from NHL goaltending supervisor Kay Whitmore, has been to restore goaltender equipment to the role of protecting goalies rather than preventing goals.

”Goalies had used equipment modifications to get artificially large in the net, which artificially prevented goals and even discouraged shots,” Dellapina said.

Does the NHL’s playoff format need to be fixed? Down Goes Brown thinks so, and has a way with which to do it. He talked about it in a pay-walled article for The Athletic. In another pay-walled article, Pierre LeBrun discusses his current picks for the NHL’s season awards, including Lightning forward Ryan McDonagh for Norris.

The Syracuse Crunch geared up the play Binghamton last night. Going into the contest, Syracuse was reported as going up one spot in Patrick William’s weekly American Hockey League Power Rankings. Goalie and video coach Karl Goehring took some time before the game to discuss the team’s most recent games and what they need to do moving forward to excel.

Excel the Crunch did, scoring six goals to the Devils' three.

Binghamton added a player before their game against the Crunch: Goalie Alex Sakellaropoulos. I insist we acquire him immediately.

This weekend, the Crunch will return to the friendly confines of the Onondaga County War Memorial, where their recent digital upgrades got a bit of attention this past week. Prismview, the company responsible for the team’s new video board and other shiny additions, posted an article about the challenges of working with a building as old as the one in Syracuse.

Far more than your average retrofit, War Memorial Arena had some truly unique obstacles. Built in 1949 to commemorate the heroic World War I and II veterans in the area, the stadium earned its status as a protected, historic space in 1988.

“When we came in, the old was in heavy need of the new,” Frost reiterates. “We’re talking about bringing 2019 technology to a building that’s coming up on 100 years. You have to be careful keeping the infrastructure in place, while more importantly, honoring the history of this specific building.”

Speaking of this weekend, Crunch defenseman Cameron Gaunce is going to have a mini reunion when Syracuse plays Utica. His brother, Brendan Gaunce, is in the Vancouver system and should be playing for the Comets when they visit the Crunch Friday.

Cameron, 28 and Brendan, 24, have long since moved onto harassing each other on more even footing, such as hockey. Both have crafted successful pro careers, paths that will intersect again on Friday night when rivals Syracuse and Utica clash in the War Memorial.

The game will mark just the fourth time the brothers have met as pros, with each of the previous three times coming at the AHL level. Syracuse and Utica have played twice this season, but Brendan missed the first one because of an injury and the second because he was on recall to Vancouver.

The Crunch is breathing down the neck the Rochester Americans, Syracuse’s North Division rivals. Rochester is hanging onto first place, but not by much.

The team finished the last five games with a record of 2-3-0-0 and are heading into the game tonight looking to put a three game losing streak behind them, the first time the team had lose three in a row in regulation all season. They’re still in first place in the North Division but have fallen to third overall in the conference.

It’s almost the end of 2018, which means countdowns galore. Patrick Williams took some time to tally up some of the best moment’s in the AHL’s year, a collection which included Mike McKenna’s run to the Calder Cup final with AHL Texas (one that came a year after his run with Syracuse), Charlotte and Lehigh Valley’s late game (it ended at 1:09 A.M.), and Toronto’s Cup win.

The NHWL had a big milestone last week: For the first time, one of their players was invited to USA Hockey’s Women’s Winter Training Camp. Hayley Scamurra, who worked with the Buffalo Beauts organization, received her first invitation to the national program’s senior camp.

Although Scamurra earned the camp invite on her own, she was quick to credit her pro team and the NWHL.

“Being able to compete after college at a high level in the NWHL has helped me continue to grow as a player,” said Scamurra. “Being with the Beauts, and thanks to all of the support we get from PSE, I’ve been given the resources – like extra ice time – to focus on my skills, improve the different aspects of my game. Getting the opportunity to attend this camp almost two years after college doesn’t happen without the Beauts and NWHL.”