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Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning odds on favorite to win Stanley Cup

You’ll never guess who’s ALSO the odds on favourite to win the Stanley Cup

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning
Mitchell Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning fight for the puck during a game at Amalie Arena on March 20, 2018 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning had one of the worst penalty kills in the entire league last season. Their poor performance perpetuated in the playoffs and it became such a problem that the Lightning fired Rick Bowness, the man who headed the PK. Matthew breaks the penalty kill’s performance down to the month to see what happened last season. [Raw Charge]

Aside from winning the Stanley Cup, the biggest thing I want to see from the Tampa Bay Lightning is rectifying a poor penalty kill. It was a sour topic for the coaching staff and players to discuss at times last season, but the numbers don’t lie—the Lightning penalty kill finished the regular season 28th out of 31 teams at 76.1%. In the postseason, the Lightning penalty kill ranked 11th out of 16 teams at 75%. It wasn’t pretty when the opposing team went on the man advantage.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (a good team) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (a popular team) are tied atop the betting odds for who will win the Stanley Cup next season. [Sportsnet]

Toronto made the biggest splash of this summer’s free agent market, inking John Tavares to a seven-year, $77 million contract and bolstering an offensive attack that ranked second in the NHL last season at 3.38 goals per game. Tavares makes the move to Toronto after racking up 37 goals and 47 assists in his final campaign with the New York Islanders.

The Lightning have also kept busy since finishing the season with a league-leading 54 regular-season wins. The club opened the vault to ink superstar forward Nikita Kucherov and rearguard Ryan McDonagh to lengthy contract extensions, and have received a boost on the Stanley Cup odds, which lagged at +1000 back on July 1.

Joe Smith of The Athletic joins the NHL Network to provide his insight into how the Lightning’s summer is progressing.

The Prospects

The Orlando Solar Bears have traded defenseman Adam Phillips for Tulsa Oilers forward Alexandre Ranger. [ECHL dot com]

The 22-year-old has amassed 53 points (21g-32a) and 133 penalty minutes in 107 ECHL games with Tulsa and Norfolk. He has also skated in 32 American Hockey League games with the St. John’s IceCaps and San Antonio Rampage, producing five points (3g-2a) and 14 penalty minutes.

Prior to turning pro, the native of Châteauguay, Quebec played junior hockey for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens and Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 224 career games, Ranger tallied 133 points (65g-68a) and 229 penalty minutes.

The Game

Bryan Berard is suing the NHL “claiming that it failed to protect him from repetitive brain injuries throughout his career, and that he now has serious medical problems as a result.” [The Score]

The first overall pick in 1995 said the NHL has a responsibility to “cease (its) patent glorification of, and profiting from, fist-fighting and violence in the league.”

Berard, who claims to have suffered at least five concussions, added that the NHL needs to not only care about the former players “on whose backs and brains (it) reaped billions of dollars,” but also that it must prioritize long-term safety over profit.

What should the NEw JErsey Devils do with Marcus Johansson? [All About the Jersey]

That expectation never truly became a reality; while Johansson played in the top 6 when healthy, the fact that he unfortunately missed 53 games due to different injuries affected his ability to solidify the upper tier of the forwards. He would record a respectable 14 points, which isn’t bad for a guy whose season started, stopped, started again, stopped again, and then saw a few playoff games.

And in some RFA contract updates, no one is in a rush. Patrik Laine isn’t in a rush to get anything signed at the moment. He frankly doesn’t care when it gets done. William Nylander isn’t in a rush either, but he wants a long-term contract with the Maple Leafs; something they can and will do. And, lastly, Sebastian Aho and the Carolina Hurricanes are in discussions regarding a new contract. It will be interesting to see whether Tom Dundon is willing to give him more than an unpaid internship.