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Quick Strikes: Steven Stamkos to play in Game One for Tampa Bay against New Jersey

and PITvsPHI, WPGvsMIN, VGKvsLAK recaps ft. Snoop Dogg

NHL: NHL All Star Game-Skills Competition
Recording artist Snoop Dogg performs before the skills challenge relay during the 2017 NHL All Star Game skills competition at Staples Center.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

It’s here! It’s finally here! The Tampa Bay Lightning begin their Stanley Cup run tonight! [Raw Charge]

On paper, this is a one-sided matchup. Most models have Tampa Bay heavily favored. Micah Blake McCurdy’s model has the Lightning at 66% to win the series. Emmanuel Perry has them at 83% to win the series. Dom Luszczyszyn has them at 74%. To try to understand why the Lightning are favored, we’ll use the matchup chart that we’ve used in the game previews here at Raw Charge all season.

Looks like Steven Stamkos will be ready for game one. [Tampa Bay Times]

Coach Jon Cooper said the plan is for Stamkos to play Thursday during Game 1 of the quarterfinal series against the Devils.

”And we’ll go from there,” Cooper said.

Stamkos said it was the best he has felt in “a couple of weeks, really. I’m feeling good.”

From the New Jersey Devils perspective, how does one simply slow down Nikita Kucherov? [New Jersey]

“They’re good skaters, but it’s just staying above the puck, making defensive reads first as far as not diving in on plays, taking angle and still being aggressive,” Coleman said. “We want to play in the offensive zone as much as we can. That’s the best way to limit talented players. Make them defend.”

Make sure you get your prediction in for who’s going to win in the first round! [Raw Charge]

This week’s poll is very simple and straightforward. Who is going to win this opening round 7-game series between your Tampa Bay Lightning, champions of The Division Nobody Seemed To Want To Win, and the New Jersey Devils, The Team Nobody Wanted To Play? Go ahead and do some research, form an analysis and make a thoughtful, rational, fact-based prediction. Or be a total homer. Or a troll. It’s a poll for Pete’s sake!

“My plan was to be a nurse anesthetist” - Tyler Johnson [The Players Tribune]

This opinion piece’s headline is: “Time for Steven Stamkos to deliver a Stanley Cup.” [Tampa Bay Times]

“It’s never a one-man show,” Stamkos said.

But this is how winners are defined. This is how legacies are made. This is how careers are judged.

This is how the business works.

This is Stamkos’ team. Sooner or later, it’s up to him to lead it down the path to hockey’s holy grail.

The Prospects

Connor Ingram earned his 20th win, a shutout, in a record-breaking win for the Syracuse Crunch. [Syracuse]

Connor Ingram recorded a 38-save performance as the Syracuse Crunch shutout out the Rochester Americans, 1-0, Wednesday at the Blue Cross Arena. Matthew Peca scored the game’s only goal early in the third period to advance the Crunch to 45-21-3-5 on the season and 6-1-1-1 in the 10-game season series against the Amerks.

Shutout for Humboldt.

The Tampa Bay Greyhounds scored the first two goals in a 5-2 Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds victory over Owen Sound Attack.

The Game

We start this segment with a message from Professor Snoop Doggy Dogg. As one does.

Welp. The Philadelphia Flyers’ playoffs are already dead. The Pittsburgh Penguins put up SEVEN to Philly’s ZERO in game one of their first-round series. Sidney Crosby had a hat-trick to boot. [Pensburgh]

The Flyers were really, really bad in the first period. Couldn’t clear the puck to save their lives. Sloppy. Slow. Bad goaltending on top of it. One period does not a series make, but you gotta love a 3-0 start to make a statement on just who the superior team is.

The Minnesota Wild - Winnipeg Jets rivalry looks like it’s begun. The Jets took game one on the back of a late goal by Joe Morrow for their first post-season win since moving from Atlanta to Winnipeg. [Sportsnet]

“You never get a game like this [in the regular season]. You’ll never get to know how hard it actually is until you play it,” said Jets defenceman Joe Morrow, who drew on all of his five playoff games last spring with the Bruins for wisdom. “I knew right away that you need to come out with a hot start and you need to play physical and strong. You can’t let your guard down. If something hurts, you can’t show it. It’s just a different beast.”

In a 1-0 affair with the LA Kings, the Vegas Golden Knights won their first playoff game, scored their first goal, didn’t give up a first playoff goal, in their first season of existence, because they were first. First. [Knights On Ice]

Fleury stopped all 12 of the Kings shots in the opening frame, a period which saw his team outshot 12-8, and helped kill two L.A powerplays (more on that later) to defend his club’s 1-0 lead through the first.

This continued in the second period where, again, the Golden Knights would find themselves in some penalty trouble early in the period but Fleury managed to both hold the fort and have a little fun amidst the chaos.

Highlight of the Night: That Metro semifinal game was just not fair.