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Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning stocking up on defense

Mr. Overtime and Mr. Hockey shining for Tampa Bay

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) makes a goal on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi (37) during a shootout at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

@torchramrod dives deep into the universe of Vegas sports betting and what it was like watching a Tampa Bay Lightning game at 10:00am local in a room like this: [Raw Charge]

As I am writing this, there are 22 screens playing a variety of hockey, college basketball, Premier League soccer games as well as horse racing from across the country on what the Westgate Superbook describes as the “largest LED video wall”. The size of that wall is 240 feet wide and 20 feet tall. That’s a lot of sports action coming at you. It’s a lot like watching sports at a bar, with constant stimulation happening all over. It just has the added benefit of gambling. And the chairs are a lot more comfortable.

Super Bowl LII Proposition Bets At The Westgate Las Vegas Race & Sports SuperBook
Some of the more than 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl LI between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots are displayed at the Race & Sports SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on January 26, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

More award predictions! This one got all of the Lightning ones right except the most obvious one. So close! [Daily Free Press]

Steve Yzerma’s experience building a gold medal winning Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics proved his skill at building a team. That team made Yzerman very sought after for a different front office job and taking the Tampa Bay General Manager job later that year turned out to be a great fit.

I’m digging Brayden Point’s new nickname: “Mr. Overtime” [The Hockey Writers]

Since he burst into the NHL in the 2016-17 season, Point has made a name for himself in overtime. He is more than the Lightning’s shoot-out specialist, though. He is a clutch performer who has put the weight of the Lightning on his back in overtime to carry them to victory. So far this season, Point has accounted for five goals on the shootout (four of which were shootout winners) and four overtime winning goals.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently carrying nine healthy defensemen on their roster making head coach Jon Cooper very pleased to have the flexibility. [Tampa Bay Times]

“McDonagh was playing on one leg and Girardi was playing on one leg because they didn’t have enough defensemen,” Cooper said. “When one guy is hurt, other guys have to play. It’s hard for guys to sit out, but ultimately with this team, our goal is to make a run in the playoffs, and you need to have depth. … It’s those depth guys (who) will help you.”

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven
Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning shakes hands with Ryan McDonagh #27 of the New York Rangers after the Lightning defeated the Rangers by a score of 2-0 to win Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 29, 2015 in New York City.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Prospects

Lightning prospect Sammy walker has been named as the 2017-18 recipient of the Mr. Hockey Award, the “top outstanding senior high school boy’s hockey player in the state of Minnesota.” [Gopher Sports]

A senior captain for Edina High School this season, Walker led the Hornets to a third-place finish in the 2018 MSHSL Class AA State Tournament and earned all-tournament team honors. He was previously chosen as the Star Tribune’s Metro Player of the Year.

Bolt Prospects have outdone themselves with a fully in-depth mid-season ranking and analysis of the Lightning’s top 25 prospects. A must-read. [Bolt Prospects]

After a bit of a pedestrian start to his rookie campaign, hardworking forward Mitchell Stephens exploded in the month of January (8 goals and 14 points in 12 games) to rocket up the Syracuse Crunch scoring leaders list and earn an AHL All-Star berth. Universally lauded for his work ethic and willingness to play bigger than his stature, Stephens seems like a natural NHL third liner who possesses the skill level to spot as a complementary scoring liner and penalty killer.

The Syracuse Crunch mount a comeback but end up falling to the Rochester Americans in the shootout to end a 1-1-1 three games in three nights weekend. Bed rest, boys. You’re going to need bed rest. [Syracuse]

Erik Cernak and Olivier Archambault tallied the third-period markers, while adding an assist each for multi-point performances. Despite the loss, the Crunch still hold second place in the North Division with a 36-19-3-4 record and lead the 10-game season series against the Amerks, 5-1-1-1.

The Game

The Vancouver Canucks would end up losing to the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 but Jacob Markstrom’s reaction to his team actually playing defense in front of him is incredible.

Coyotes third-overall pick in 2015 Dylan Strome was called up by the NHL club yesterday. Oh wait, never mind, his recall was cancelled 6 hours later. What is John Chayka doing. [Arizona Sports]

Strome, who was an AHL All-Star earlier this season, will return to the Tucson Roadrunners as they prepare for an AHL playoff run. Strome was called up to the Coyotes in emergency fashion after center Laurent Dauphin suffered a lower-body injury against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Despite the recall, Strome was not expected to play on Sunday against Vancouver.

The Colorado have also overhauled their defensive pipeline, and I’ll admit that it looks very decent and bright. Good job, Joe Sakic. [Mile High Hockey]

When you talk about the blueline of the Colorado Avalanche, you always have to start with Erik Johnson. The former 1st overall pick is the kind of do-everything defender that NHL coaches love to rely on. When healthy, Johnson is among the league leaders in time-on-ice and is the unquestioned leader of the Avalanche defense.

Highlight of the Night: Alexander Radulov caught a saucer pass between his feet, set himself up for a shot as he was falling and squeezed the puck past a frantic Casey DeSmith from an angle that would be considered cold in Canada.