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Quick Strikes: Jan Rutta who?

The Bolts’ eternal Cinderella went to a different ball, so who is this new defender waiting in the wings?

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Headline

As you all know by now, Slater Koekkoek is no longer part of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Instead, he is a brand new Chicago Blackhawk (or at least an IceHog!), and we wish him well. In his place we’re getting a 2019 seventh-rounder and a right-shooting, 6’3 Czech defenseman named Jan Rutta, because apparently Julien Brisebois thought our team was a little short on tall Czech D. (Was JBB missing Andrej Sustr??) Geo broke down this kind of lateral move for the org, and profiled Rutta yesterday. [Raw Charge] [Second City Hockey]

From an advanced statistics point of view, Rutta doesn’t have great possession numbers putting up a Corsi For % that was 1.81 and 1.94% worse than his teammates with Chicago the past two seasons. His expected goals metric has been negative during his time in the NHL. When compared to Koekkoek, the numbers are a bit back and forth between the two. This year though, Rutta has a better CF60 and CA60 number than Koekkoek, and both numbers are down from his 2017-18 numbers. Both have also had some PDO luck this season with both being a few points over 100 indicating save and shooting luck being on their side when they’re on the ice.

Rutta, who is 28 years old, had a just fine season with the Blackhawks in 2017-18, playing 57 games and earning 6G/14P for 20 points. If you care about plus/minus, he ended up at a -1 on a team that didn’t make the playoffs. This season he has taken a bit of a step backwards, earning 2G/4A in 23 games for Chicago. He was sent down on waivers on December 13, and has done a just fine job in 8 games as an IceHog.

But could it be that he was simply a decent player on a bad Blackhawks team? Time, and his performance in Syracuse, will tell.

So here’s some video.

Jan Rutta mic’d up for the Blackhawks, where he doesn’t actually say anything:

First NHL goal at age 27:

And via Second City Hockey, let’s say a proper farewell to Slater Koekkoek.

The Bolts

The Washington Post has taken notice of our winger, y’all. This is plain weird. Our team finally getting national attention for being good?! — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic pace with no signs of slowing down [Washington Post]

Taken No. 58 overall in 2011, he is the first player from that draft — which featured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Huberdeau as its top three picks — to reach the 400-point milestone. He is also the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 2000 to hit the 70-point plateau in his first 43 games of a season.

You know what else is crazy? The BUFFALO NEWS is writing about Tampa Bay too! There’s no better way to make a team relevant than to bring it to the eyes of Buffalo residents (if TV ratings are any indication): Sabres Notebook: Lightning surging through standings [Buffalo News]

The Bolts lead the league in wins, points (70), regulation/OT wins (31), points percentage (.795), goals (180), goals per game (4.09), goal differential (plus-58), power-play percentage (30.0), home wins (19, on a 19-4 record), home points (38), home goals (101), home goal differential (plus-42) and home points percentage (.826). Whew.

Matt wrote a very interesting breakdown of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s season so far. Don’t simply read the first few paragraphs and think we’re calling him bad -- Matt’s assessment is pretty even-handed. [Raw Charge]

For perspective, last year Vasilevskiy was 18th in penalty kill save percentage. This year, he’s 4th highest among starting goaltenders. This is primarily due to two major factors; one being the penalty killers in front of him are doing a better job at limiting the dangerous chances he sees and the other being Vasilevskiy himself righting the ship. Not every goal on the penalty kill is the goaltenders fault, but every coach will tell you that your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer.

Imagine having your teammates tease you for being offside... [Tampa Bay Times]

Palat hadn’t realized Johnson was the one offsides. Once informed, he said “Johnny needs to be better.” Again, with a smile.

In the category of “Who cares, let’s win the cup,” there comes this: Lightning’s Brayden Point doesn’t nab the fan vote for All-Star spot [Tampa Bay Times]

”Obviously I’m very thankful to everyone that’s voted to try to get me in,” Point said before voting closed Thursday night. “It’s pretty incredible. Regardless if I get in or not, it’s just cool to know that they voted and are rooting for our team.”

The Prospects

We hear you guys want more coverage of the Crunch. Well, we have you covered -- and for free! If you’re interested in an insightful analysis from a writer who’s been covering the Crunch all season, here’s Justin’s latest breakdown of Alex Barre-Boulet’s work on the powerplay. [Raw Charge]

What does Alex Barre-Boulet bring to the power play that has allowed him to be so successful in his first 33 games in the AHL? The undrafted free agent brought with him the reputation of being a hard worker with excellent hockey sense and puck handling. He lit up the QMJHL with 325 points in 255 career games and was named the CHL player of the year in his final season.

The Game

Dave Mishkin’s words are always worth your time -- Mishkin’s Musings: The Eastern Conference Playoff Picture [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Unless the Hurricanes make a big run (or something truly remarkable happens for one of the clubs below the ‘Canes), the Eastern Conference is going to come down to a “nine-for-eight” musical chairs race. Other than the Lightning, Washington and Toronto have the best position. The Caps and Leafs both have 58 points, seven more than ninth-seeded Montreal. The other six clubs, however, are separated by just three points.

Simply ponder this: Is NHL goal scoring on the rise? [Raw Charge]

Looking in this context, the recent growth trend looks a little more meaningful even if we mentally account for the shootout goals. This season, the league is above its average in goal scoring relative to all the seasons since 1950 for the first time since 2005-2006, which was the year after the lockout and featured an emphasis on calling a tighter game leading to a temporary spike in goal scoring.

Have an excellent weekend, y’all.