After some early preseason jitters, the Tampa Bay Lightning came out guns ablaze in a 6-2 beatdown of the Florida Panthers at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, home of the new ECHL affiliate of the Lightning, the Orlando Solar Bears.
Prospect Mathieu Joseph — who looks more and more likely to make the Bolts — had a three-point night, including two goals and an assist on the goal that put the Lightning ahead at a key moment in the game.
Louis Domingue stopped 36 of 38 shots he faced in 60 minutes of play, a high amount for the usually stingey Lightning who were icing most of their regulars, plus Slater Koekkoek and Erik Cernak.
In Bryan Burns’ “3 Things” recap of the game, a quote stood out to me. It was Joseph echoing the mantra Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx has preached to his players every chance he can get for the past few seasons.
“I liked the speed of the game out there,” Joseph said. “You’ve got to be consistent out there. Every shift’s important. Every time you step on the ice, you want to do the right thing and execute.”
Orlando Solar Bears writer Don Money was also at Amway to cover the game. You can check out his recap here. For Louis Domingue, the game was a return to an arena where he played during his ECHL days.
“I’ve had only good memories about the ECHL, especially Gwinnett, which was the place where I got my career going again,” Domingue said following his second preseason win in as many starts for the Lightning. “I played quite a few games here being in the same division so it was good to be back.”
Brayden Point 2.0
Brayden Point 1.0
After the game, goalie Martin Ouellete was assigned to the Solar bears. That leaves the Lightning with Andrei Vasilevskiy and Louis Domingue as their two NHL goalies.
Following tonight’s game, G Martin Ouellette was re-assigned to the Solar Bears. #Bolts down to 27 now in camp.— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) September 28, 2018
O-Pee-Chee hockey cards are a classic design and the ones in particular that JustinG. brings to light in his feature on them are breathtaking in their mix of old and new themes. [Raw Charge]
The two companies would produce similar sets over the years with Topps being released in the U.S. and OPC in Canada. The pictures and stat information used for the two sets would be the same with OPC adding a French translation and a different logo. That’s how you end up with two different Wayne Gretzky rookie cards that look an awful lot alike, but have different price points.
It’s hard to get a gauge on the Lightning. Coming off three conference final appearances in the past four years, it is considered among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Yet if feels like many people are sleeping on this team simply because it doesn’t have a whole lot to talk about.
ESPN takes a look at the Lightning for the upcoming season; the forwards, the defense, the goalies, the special teams, the best and worse-case scenarios, the expectations, the coach, and the future. [ESPN]
Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde caught the league by surprise last season with 68 and 64 points, respectively. This season, everyone knows the Bolts are deeper than the combination of Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov on the top line. I’d take the under on matching their point totals for this coming season but not by a lot. This duo showed plenty of chemistry and consistency on the ice, and they get a huge boost to their standard-league value through plus/minus. Read more -- Sean Allen
Cooper on Joseph: “He’s definitely put his best foot forward. His speed is his biggest asset and he’s been using it... He’s definitely made a positive impression on the coaching staff. You look for guys who step up and he’s continued to do it.” #FLAvsTBL— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) September 28, 2018
Dom Luszczyszyn (no I didn’t spell that on my own) is one of the best analytics writers in the country (actually he lives in Canada), and he’s been doing full breakdowns for every single NHL team for the past month, from worst to best. The wait has been long (good!), but it’s finally time to read, and see, what his player projection model has to say about the Bolts. The graphs are really straightforward and extremely interesting, so if you don’t have the time to read all couple thousand words, at least check those out. [The Athletic]
At forward there’s a lot of ways to alter the mix to create three potent lines. Of the top nine forwards, the lowest points-per-60 from last season belonged to Tyler Johnson at 1.79 which translates to a strong second line rate. Ondrej Palat is the only other forward in that top nine to also only score at a second line rate of 1.89, which is bordering on first line territory. That gives the team seven forwards who scored equivalent to a first line player at 5-on-5 last season though two of them, J.T. Miller and Anthony Cirelli, did so in under 20 games with the team. When you have guys like Yanni Gourde, who looks like the real deal, and Cirelli coming in and immediately contributing big numbers, it creates a lot of problems for other teams who don’t have the depth to match.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won “Best Local News Story” from Creative Loafing Tampa Bay! [Creative Loafing]
Erik Cernak probably deserves to be in the NHL this season, but he’s going to have to wait. Here is a great look into the prospect and how long it’ll take before we can’t call him that anymore. [Raw Charge]
When I view the roster, a lot of this decision comes down to logistics and depth rather than about Cernak’s ability to play in the NHL. His competition for a roster spot would logically seem to be Slater Koekkoek and to a lesser extent Braydon Coburn. The termination of Jake Dotchin’s contract has also opened up some room, but at the same time created a challenge for the team’s depth.
Meanwhile, another defense prospect in Oleg Sosunov is spending some much-needed time stewing in the minors as he gets accustomed to the professional hockey landscape.
Andy Andreoff is also looking to make a good impression on the Crunch, and be a good example for the young players on the team.
“It’s been pretty good down here. They got a great group, so I’m looking forward to it."@andyandreoff on joining the #SyrCrunch, his first trade and setting an example for the younger guys.#CrunchCamp pic.twitter.com/Iz7ObRGDra— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) September 27, 2018
Stefan Fournier, formerly with the Brampton Beast of the ECHL, has signed with the Orlando Solar Bears. [Orlando Solar Bears]
“Stefan is a player who is willing to go to the tough areas of the ice and can provide a net-front presence for us,” Solar Bears head coach and general manager Drake Berehowsky said. “He uses his size to create opportunities that enable him and his teammates to score.”
For The Athletic subscribers out there, go check out Scott Wheelers odyssey of the Brampton Beast. Scott spent three months with the team going on roadtrips, practices, games, meetings, everything. There’s some good stuff on Fournier in there.
I spent parts of three months living the life of a third-rung pro hockey player in the ECHL.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) February 2, 2018
This is the story of four of those days, and a road trip from hell in a league beyond understanding.
In one: https://t.co/dF6Nj3XJyJ pic.twitter.com/kzKcbxOa6h
Humboldt Broncos never give up playing hockey, and Kaleb Dahlgren, Matthieu Gomercic, Bryce Fiske, and Nick Shumlanski did not do that. After 175 days, they move forward in their careers, playing Canadian University Hockey, like they were always supposed to. [U Sports]
Dalhgren is now one of the most recognizable hockey players in the nation with his involvement in multiple charity and memorial events tied to the Broncos. Though it’s doubtful he will be cleared to play in the fall semester as he recovers from a brain injury, Dalhgren has already started to impact, motivate and bond with his new team like no other York Lion ever has, except for with one other.
Despite both the Carolina and Hartford markets both not feeling warm to the idea, the Carolina Hurricanes have unveiled their Hartford Whalers special third jersey to be worn in December. The Canes previous owners moved the Whalers from Hartford in a money-grab, and the Whalers have no sentimental value to the people of North Carolina, so why should they care? Anyway, Tom Dundon. [Canes Country]
The Canes announced Thursday that the team will do just that on Sunday, December 23. Appropriately, it will be a game against the Boston Bruins, the team that shared Boston Garden with the WHA’s New England Whalers in their first two seasons of existence before moving to Connecticut.
The Hartford Whalers logo is sacred and should only be worn by the Whalers.— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) September 27, 2018
And also me while blackout and riding an inflatable alligator on my 25th birthday pic.twitter.com/KPp5CLOqDB
Highlight of the Night: Gritty.