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Quick Strikes: Syracuse Crunch coach Benoit Groulx wins game #300

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Canada Training Sessions - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship
Head Coach Benoit Groulx talks to the players during the Canada National Junior Team practice at the Meridian Centre on December 15, 2014 in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Bolts

How are the Tampa Bay Lightning matching up in scoring against the league averages at each position? As one of the best teams in the league, you are right to expect they exceed the league average. [Raw Charge]

It shouldn’t be a surprise that one of the best offenses in the NHL is Above Average almost across the board. Two of the three spots that are below average are minor leaguers that haven’t been up the whole season. Even Ondrej Palat with his 30 points would line up as an average second line left winger.

Who is going to take home hardware from Las Vegas at the NHL Awards? Seriously. We’re going to do this properly, no bias. [Raw Charge]

The debate over second place is fun but, ultimately, it’s still only second place. The player who would be first on my ballot is Connor McDavid. Comfortably. He’s among the leaders in scoring. His on-ice impacts are second only to Giroux on this list. His offensive impacts are so extreme that even giving up a little defensively still results in huge gains overall.

This week’s fan poll has everything to do with community. What is it like being part of our family, our team, and even our state. [Raw Charge]

In the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, our in-state and Atlantic Division rivals the Florida Panthers have done some pretty remarkable outreach on behalf of the school, and specifically their varsity hockey team. In hockey, this is pretty much the standard to which we have become accustomed. Our rivalries are fierce and competitive but when it comes to things that really matter, our bond as members of The Hockey Family transcend any hard feelings that may result from what happens on the ice. For that, we say good job, Panthers.

The Boston Bruins are closer than we think. Saturday’s meet-up with the Bruins is “The biggest game of the year.” - J.T. Miller [Tampa Bay Times]

The Bruins are four points behind Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division lead. Saturday is the first of three meetings in the final three weeks that could determine the division title and home ice.

If you’re the Lightning, you don’t want to finish second and have to potentially beat both Boston and Toronto on a Stanley Cup run.

The Prospects

Congratulations, Coach! Benoit Groulx of the Syracuse Crunch wins his 300th game coached in the AHL. 149-119-32 in the AHL for Syracuse and Rochester, 76-43-21 for the Crunch in the past two seasons. Not bad at all. [Hockey DB]

Speaking of winning hockey games, the Crunch won their game over the Springfield Thunderbirds, 3-2. Gabriel Dumont, Matthew Peca, and Olivier Archambault sccored for the blue team. [Local SYR News]

Goaltender Louis Domingue stopped 26-of-28 shots in net for the Crunch, while Harri Sateri turned aside 32-of-35 for the Thunderbirds. Syracuse converted one 1-of-6 power play opportunities and stopped 3-of-4 Springfield man-advantages.

Nine points in seven games is Player of the Week quality play, kudos to Mathieu Joseph for all his hard work.

Sault Ste. Marie lost a rare game last night, a 4-3 loss to the Flint Forebirds at home. Boris Katchouk failed to register a point but this goal from Taylor Raddysh was a beauty. [OHL] [Highlights]

The Game

Tampa Bay’s Decclan Farmer had led Team USA to the Gold medal game in the Olympic Men’s Sledge hockey tournament. [Tampa Bay Times]

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it: It would be cooler playing Canada in this game, our biggest rival,” Farmer said late Friday night by phone from Gangneung. “This is the game you dream about as a kid, playing against your biggest rival in the Paralympics hockey gold medal game. I know I’ve been dreaming about this game since I started playing competitively at 12.”

In the Bronze medal game, South Korea beat Italy for their first hockey medal at the 2018 Olympics/Paralympics. [Korea Herald]

South Korea won the men’s ice sledge hockey bronze medal at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics after beating Italy 1-0 on Saturday.

“Their sweat, blood and tears from such a difficult environment, coming to this stage with nothing but trust ... the tears are my gratitude for them,” he said. (Yonhap)

The PHWA voted to reveal all voting ballots from now on. This means we will know who voted for each award at the NHL Awards. [PHWA]

Ilya Kovalchuk is returning to the NHL and wants to say for “several years.” [CBC Sports]

He adds that he wants to match Russian teammate Pavel Datsyuk as a member of the so-called triple gold club of players who have won the Olympic gold medal, world championship, and Stanley Cup. Kovalchuk walked out on the New Jersey Devils in 2013 to return to Russia, where he has since won two KHL titles.

The Nashville Predators are the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season after being one of the last to clinch a year ago. [On the Forecheck]

Juuse Saros: I think Saros has done his homework. He was able to respond to most of the chances from Colorado’s heavy weapons. Saros swallowed up rebounds tonight, something he struggled with against New Jersey. He gets the tough starts on back-to-back trips, and he stood tall tonight. The younger Finnish goaltender saved 33 of 35 shots in tonight’s game.

Highlight of the Night: Johnny Gaudreau is too fast for all of us.