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Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning post highest TV ratings in franchise history

and Connor Ingram and the Syracuse Crunch continue to go above and beyond for Humboldt.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde (37) is congratulated by defenseman Anton Stralman (6) after scoring a goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Amalie Arena. 
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

We start with some love to the fans, 2017-18 was the most watched season in terms of TV in Tampa Bay Lightning history. [NHL dot com]

The Lightning posted a 1.83 HH rating average (34,400 homes) over the course of 75 regular season games on FOX Sports Sun. The 1.83 HH surpassed the lockout shortened 2012-13 season (1.80 HH over 43 games) to finish as the highest rated Lightning season ever and marked a +20% increase for the Lightning in year-over-year viewership.

The Lightning have done everything they can to prepare for the playoffs, but honestly, it all hinges on Andrei Vasilevskiy. [Tampa Bay Times]

Vasilevskiy’s first go as an NHL No. 1 was spectacular at times. He was an all-star. He finished with 2.62 goals against and a .920 save percentage. No goalie in the league had more wins (44) and no one in Lightning history has made more saves in a season (1,908). He won a lot of games on nights when the Lightning should not have won. We’d talk about his behind-the-back save, only he had two of them. Circus stuff.

From where we were last year to where we are now, it’s a million miles. [Tampa Bay Times]

Out of the ashes of the lost 2016-17 season grew this one, a season when the Lightning won the division title and the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Might the Lightning be in this position if last year was not a bust? Maybe. But what we know is this: The injuries to Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, et al, undercut the postseason plans and nudged the direction of the team.

The Lightning are the heavy favourites against the New Jersey Devils. Here’s how they stack up “by the numbers.” [The Athletic]

A cursory look at their numbers suggests why it was hard to trust the Devils success all season and it really still is astonishing that they managed to make the playoffs given their results. They were outshot heavily at 5-on-5 all season and were even worse down the stretch. They managed to get the better of the quality chances, but not by much and their expected goal percentage fell right in line with their Corsi over the final 25 games.

On top of that, the Lightning have a history in the playoffs while Taylor Hall and the majority of the Devils players do not. This playoff experience should help New Jersey grow, but right now there’s a distinct gap. [Tampa Bay Times]

“Experience is what you make of it,” said coach Jon Cooper, whose team had extended playoff runs in 2015 and 2016 before missing the postseason last year. “Naturally, it’s good to have gone through some of these situations before, but I look at our team in 2015, we didn’t really have much experience and we were able to get through.”

Fanpost: “Want to win sold-out Tampa Bay Lightning playoff tickets? Here are a few ways!” [Raw Charge]

Tickets are sold out for the first round of the playoffs, so you can only buy resale tickets. But I found a few ways to win tickets for the first round and one contest that is good for the entire playoffs. Good luck!

The Prospects

Crunch Corner: The Syracuse Crunch are pretty much locked into their second seed in the North Division. Bring on the playoffs already! [Raw Charge]

With little to play for, it’s not unexpected for the Crunch to have some flat play over the next week or so. That was the case for most of the weekend. In the two games against Binghamton (Friday and Sunday), the Crunch were not in their element. They looked and played like they were out of sorts. The Utica game on Saturday was a different story, so they do still have the ability to kick it into gear when they need to.

Connor Ingram has been a voice to follow whenit comes to what we can do to help the people affected by the Humboldt Broncos. He led the #PutYourSticksOut moment in Syracuse and last night he left his goalie mask outside his house, in case the goalie who passed away in the crash needed it, wherever he is. [Syracuse]

“I left my helmet outside my door in my apartment. I know one of the goalies passed away, so I thought I’d leave a little something for him,’’ Ingram said. “It was still there in the morning.’’

“Growing up, it was the closest team to me. Everybody wanted to play for them,’’ Ingram said. “I think Saskatchewan as a province is probably one of the most tight-knit places in the world. It seems like you know everybody.’’

The Crunch will also honour the Broncos when they wear a special jersey that will be auctioned off in support of the ambulence and first responders. [Syracuse]

Each Crunch player will wear the name ‘’Humboldt’’ in place of their regular nameplate. During the game, the Crunch will hold a silent auction for five of the game-worn jerseys outside the Falso Service Experts Guest Services Office. The remaining jerseys will be auctioned online.

Cal Foote has made an eraly impact on the Syracuse Crunch and in the AHL. [BC Local News]

Foote launched his career with a bang, scoring a goal for the Syracuse Crunch on his very first shot in his first ever game. The 19-year-old defenceman and first round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning was named the game’s second star in a Crunch’s 4-3 shootout loss to Binghamton. In his first three AHL games, Foote has a goal and a +1 rating.

The Adirondack Thunder are also heading towards the playoffs after winning their own North Division. [Raw Charge]

With a postseason spot clinched, the Adirondack Thunder had two games left to determine what position they would be in as the regular season came to an end on Sunday. With the two wins in the bank, the Thunder clinch the division for the second straight season, and now they must prepare to face a tough four seed in the expansion Worcester Railers in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs.

The Game

Patrick Kane has been named captain of the USA’s World Championship team. Jeff Blashill is also returning to coach the squad.

Kane last played at the world championships in 2008, his first in the NHL and the last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs. The three-time Stanley Cup winner’s presence should improve the quality of play at the tournament and the interest in fellow U.S. players to join him.

Kane played for the U.S. at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics and next month will lead a strong team that includes Buffalo Sabres rookie and world junior MVP Casey Mittelstadt and possibly Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin.

“Black hockey players excel on ice despite history of racism, lack of rinks in Chicago.” [Chicago Reader]

Over the years, many people of color have told me that they want to like hockey and let their kids play or even just ice skate, but they’re afraid of being singled out based on their appearance. What’s more, black and brown families who want to embrace the sport really haven’t had many places to turn because ice rinks are few and far between in many neighborhoods.

Highlight of the Night: The goal, the crash, the celly. Hockey.