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Quick Strikes: Looking at the Tampa bay Lightning defense and goaltending as the season approaches

Are they good enough (and deep enough) to win a Stanley Cup?

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning
May 23, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA;Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) and defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) react after losing to the Washington Capitals in game seven of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

Our 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning season preview series has found its way to the crease. Loserpoints takes a look at the goaltenders who might see time on the ice at AMALIE. [Raw Charge]

After Louis Domingue, the Lightning don’t have another NHL option. Connor Ingram will be the starter in Syracuse and at 21 years old is not ready to play in Tampa. His backup will be Eddie Pasquale who is a solid AHL veteran but has never played an NHL game. If either Andrei Vasilevskiy or Domingue suffers an injury, the team would likely have to look outside the organization to replace them.

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s cumulative goals saved average over the 2017-18 season
Credit: @loserpoints

The Lightning are embracing the pressure that has been on them for several seasons now and will be on them this season. Cup or Bust, right? [Daily Commercial]

“It’s always in the back of your head for sure. Every year you make it to the playoffs and don’t win it all, there are some empty feelings. But there is nothing you can really do about it now, there’s no point in dwelling on it. You learn from it and move on,” captain Steven Stamkos said.

Brayden Point is the next Patrice Bergeron. Need I say more? [The Hockey Writers]

Point has become a breakout star for the Lightning, but he may be overshadowed by other superstars like Stamkos, Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy. It’s not every day teams can find a center who can score 60 points and also provide stout defensive play, but that’s what the Bruins have had in Bergeron for 10 seasons, and the Lightning hope that’s what they will have in Point for years to come.

The Athletic spent the day looking at the defense for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

First, Mikhail Sergachev play in the top-four? [The Athletic]

But the Lightning also put Sergachev in the best position, managing his matchups and minutes, with the rookie having around 20 percent defensive zone starts. He played his best hockey in the Stanley Cup playoffs, per former GM Steve Yzerman, but is Tampa Bay now comfortable putting Sergachev in matchups with Auston Matthews, Brad Marchand and the like?

And depending on that, what will the top-four look like this season? [The Athletic]

During the 2017-18 regular season, Hedman and Sergachev shared the ice for 72 minutes of 5-on-5 time, Hedman’s fifth-most common partner. So as far as a sample size, there’s not much to go off. (Another point to note: In those 72 minutes, 57 of the pairings 96 zone starts — or 59-percent — came in the offensive zone.)

Here is part three of Caley Chelios’ sit down with Nikita Kucherov! [Part 1] [Part 2]

The Prospects

Alex Barre-Boulet was a star in the QMJHL, the MVP, but now he comes to the Syracuse Crunch and has to start all over again. His journey begins now. [Syracuse]

The bigger, more experienced defensemen pilfered puck after puck and left Barre-Boulet dancing with air.

Fortunately for the Crunch, Barre-Boulet has proven to be a very quick learner. If his educational curve continues at a similar pace, Syracuse might be adding one of the most exciting newcomers in the AHL to its lineup this season.

As for the rest of the Crunch, here is the list of players attending AHL camp.

When the squad doesn’t let you down.

War Memorial is starting to look like something!

The Orlando Solar Bears will be hosting their first-ever Alzheimer’s Awareness Night on December 1st.

Bolts assistant coach Todd Richards had some very nice things to say about Orlando in an article published yesterday by Bryan Burns.

The Game

ICYMI, the Minnesota whitecaps are the NWHL’s newest franchise. Thir bevy of young players will definitely bring in a new era of hockey in “the State of Hockey.” [The Ice Garden]

Allie Thunstrom, the medal-winning Olympic speed skater, was one of the first signings of the season, and a hotly anticipated addition to the league. In both games the 5’ 5” forward created impossible breakaways, drawing talented goalies well out of the crease. She took off, flew past anyone in her way, and stopped sharper than everyone else in the league.

Not sure how to transition from badass Olympic speed-skating hockey players to big goofy clowns on skates but here we go.... Gritty! [ESPN]

Thunderbug is straight up adorbz, combining two of the greatest mascot attributes: giant eyes and bouncy antennae. Much better than what we assume was Option B for Tampa: a passed-out 40-year-old man in an ill-fitting Gasparilla pirate costume.

ESPN also ranked all 31 goaltending tandems for this season. Don’t worry, the Bolts were ranked high. [ESPN]

Andrei Vasilevskiy was handed the crease when the Lightning traded Ben Bishop. He played 1,000 more minutes in the 2017-18 regular season than he had ever played before, and he offered proof of concept that he can be an elite starter in this league: a .920 save percentage, a .979 save percentage on low-danger chances (eighth in the NHL) and eight shutouts. Louis Dominguewas a revelation after joining the Lightning, with a .914 save percentage in 12 appearances.

Now former NHLer Chris Stewert has found a home in Slovakia.

Meanwhile, Scottie Upshall was released from his PTO.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jori Lehtera might be caught up in a big Finnish drug ring circle faceoff dot thingy? I’m not nearly professional enough to talk about this, so maybe I should just shh and tell you the links. [NBC Sports]

Lehtera has not been charged with anything and is reportedly one of 23 individuals being investigated regarding 2 kilos of the substance spreading in the Tampere region — where the 30-year-old NHL veteran spends his off-seasons — in Jan. 2017. He was not present when his cottage was raided over the summer.

In injury news, there were a surprisingly many of them yesterday. First is Seth jones, who is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. [The Cannon]

This is a big setback for a player who could contend for the Norris this season. This is an article from last March about Seth’s march to the top of the minds for voters. [Sportsnet]

As it stands right now, Victor Hedman and 2013 winner P.K. Subban are the likely frontrunners for the Norris with John Klingberg, Drew Doughty and Brent Burns among the others likely to garner some votes. If Jones continues to play the way he has been lately, however, it will be difficult for voters to ignore him at the end of the regular season.

Alex Galchenyuk is currently “week to week” with a lower-body injury.

In other other injury news... Oh, noooooo! How teeeeerrrrible! I feel so baaaaaaaaaad.

I’m not sure what Yolo’s official status with Raw charge is, but he has written some great stuff with us and has done some incredible and thoughtful analytics work in hockey.

As much as Habs fans want Josh Ho-Sang on the Montreal Canadiens, I don’t think he would fit in Marc Bergevin’s “culture”. [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

Montreal’s bottom six objectively looks more talented than what the Islanders presently have, which could help bring out his offence better than playing alongside Johnston and Martin (but surprisingly not Casey Cizikas). Ho-Sang could work out with a fast Matthew Peca on the fourth line, or with a defensively responsible Tomas Plekanec on a third line. Both lines would also feature other offensive options like Charles Hudon or Artturi Lehkonen as well.

Highlight of the Night: Dammit the Leafs are good.