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Quick Strikes: Lightning win over Boston, Crunch make moves

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The Crunch are also ramping up their charity initiates for the holiday season, and the Solar Bears named their leadership core.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning invited the Boston Bruins to the not-so-friendly confines of Amalie Arena last night. The evening got started with the giving spirit of this time of year in full force: Mikhail Sergachev, Steven Stamkos, and Mathieu Joseph all spent time during warm ups giving pucks to kids around the rink.

I know those kids will hold onto those souvenirs for a long, long time. Props to those players who think about the fans, especially during this time of year!

Those good feelings pretty much kept rolling all night, and at the end of the game, the Lightning had beaten back their own personal boogey-man in a 3-2 victory.

The Bruins claimed Gemel Smith from the Dallas Stars yesterday. Sean Shapiro just happened to be at the rink to witness what was probably a hard goodbye to his former teammates within the Stars organization.

I found this important to post, because the human element can so often get lost within the business of hockey. Waivers give a player a chance to stay in the NHL, but that comes with a loss of familiarity and stability.

Jasmine Yen summed up how the Lightning have continued to dominate despite the loss of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Only in Tampa can you lose your Vezina finalist goaltender and still be #1 in the entire league.

By the way, if you love Vasilevskiy’s mask...you are not alone! Since we haven’t seen him play in a bit due to his injury (and recently he was wearing his Hockey Fights Cancer helmet anyway), here’s a reminder:

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Many Lightning fans picked up on the fact that prospect Alexei Lipanov did not make the Russian U-20 preliminary roster for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Yesterday, Igor broke down some reasons why and also took a look at those that did make the roster.

I’ve come to the conclusion that hockey writers just really struggle with living in the now. Whether it’s looking backwards at previous drafts or seasons with Geo, or forward to, say, the potential top 50 NHL players in 2021-2022 with Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic (pay walled), the present is very seldom where it’s at.

Speaking of looking ahead, how will the newly announced Seattle expansion affect the Lightning? Well, glad you asked!

Expansion, you say? The Bolts celebrated a pretty snazzy anniversary of their own yesterday.

Anniversaries like this always bring out the nostalgia, and they also can bring out thoughts of what might have been.

Moving on to other parts of the organization, the Syracuse Crunch made a couple of moves yesterday. The first and probably most impactful one was the signing of defenseman Nolan Valleau to an AHL Contract for the remainder of the 2018-19 season. The deal includes a club option for 2019-20. Valleau had been on a PTO with the Crunch, but had also been one of the team’s more reliable defenseman. Justin spoke about this quandary just this past week, and it’s nice to see it resolved in this way! The organization also loaned Otto Somppi to the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL as a way to ease Somppi back into playing after a long-term injury.

The Crunch recently honored this gentleman before a game. Local reporter Niko Tamurian looks more into his amazing story.

Syracuse is ramping up their holiday fundraising this week. Tomorrow, the staff will be selling newspapers the old fashioned way to raise money for the Salvation Army:

Saturday night, the team will be having their annual Teddy Bear Toss, and Crunchman is ready (because that suit didn’t smell enough already, apparently).

Yesterday, players from the team - including Cory Conacher, Daniel Walcott, Alex Barre-Boulet, Olivier Archambault, and Cameron Gaunce - spent some time with some children at Upstate Golisano Hospital. The annual visit usually includes some kind of art therapy, and this year’s looked especially fun.

Syracuse forward and Lightning prospect Boris Katchouk is pretty good at scoring short-handed goals.

The Solar Bears finally experienced enough roster stability, relatively speaking for that league anyway, to name their leadership core yesterday. Among them is organizational forward Troy Bourke, who received an “as needed” third alternate position.

Former Crunch goalie Mike McKenna is currently up in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, and he’s soaking in all up while it lasts.

Mike McKenna ranks in the top 10 in American Hockey League wins, appearances and shutouts. He’s a sure bet for the AHL Hall of Fame when he concludes his career.

But for all he has accomplished across his 559 professional appearances, the 35-year-old has won just seven NHL games in 29 contests, despite being the winningest U.S.-born goaltender in AHL history.

The Toledo Walleye make me really, really happy. Really. Happy.

(If anyone cares, my wand is Cypress wood with a Dragon heartstring core)

The Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL don’t make me quite as happy.

Look, I’ll be honest, finance talk is not my thing. I tried reading this, started skimming by the second paragraph, and gave up soon after the graph. But there are absolutely some of you who are interested in how valuable NHL teams are, so enjoy!

The top of the list—New York Rangers ($1.55 billion), Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.45 billion), Montreal Canadiens ($1.3 billion), Chicago Blackhawks ($1.05 billion) AND Boston Bruins ($925 million)—is dominated by the Original Six teams that are great brands with rich local television and sponsorship deals.

As a result, the value of the average NHL team rose 6% during the past year, to a record $630 million.

It’s beginning to look a lot like You Can Play season!

The Buffalo Beauts of the NWHL recently played an exhibition series against Team Russia. The series took place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 and was played at three different rinks in Ontario, Canada. Sadly, the Beauts only won one of those games.