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Quick Strikes: The Lightning will have to wait at least another year for an outdoor game

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The World Junior Championship resumes today.

NHL: Winter Classic-Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The Team

Joe Smith at the Athletic looked into which players from the Lighting are likely to make the all-star game. With the 3 on 3 format, the answer might be surprisingly few. The Atlantic Division is stacked at forward and that could mean Nikita Kucherov is the only Lightning forward. And no one on defense is a lock.

So that means five of six forwards would be taken: Matthews (Maple Leafs), Kucherov (Lightning), Eichel (Sabres), Pastrnak (Bruins), Barkov (Panthers).

That means one spot for…. Point, Leafs center John Tavares (who has three more goals than Point), Mitch Marner (who has one more point). Our Jonas Siegel wrote that Marner is having one of the greatest seasons ever by a Leaf. There’s also Stamkos (22 goals), Skinner, Ottawa’s Matt Duchene, Montreal’s Max Domi and Boston’s Brad Marchand. This all assumes that the Red Wings’ representative is goalie Jimmy Howard (and not forward Dylan Larkin, who would take up the final spot). I think Point has a very good case, with Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman telling me earlier this year he thinks Point is “definitely” a top-10 center in the league; Point is also on Selke watch at midseason, having tackled most of the tough defensive assignments this season.

The Prospects

Justin’s weekly Crunch Corner column came out yesterday. The Crunch have joined the Lightning in putting together a dominant December including going undefeated last week.

With three wins in three games, the Syracuse Crunch end 2018 atop the standings in the North Division. Both the Crunch and the Rochester Americans have 42 points, but due to the Crunch achieving that mark in three less games, they get the nod with the better winning percentage (.700 vs .636). The Crunch join the Charlotte Checkers (.735) and the San Jose Barracuda (.714) as the only teams in the AHL to win 70% of their games so far this season.

Not bad for a team that struggled a bit at the beginning of the season.

The Game

The Winter Classic was yesterday with the Bruins beating Chicago 4-2 in a matchup of two teams Lightning fans aren’t fond of. That’s a game where every goal raises conflicting feelings of being glad that one of those teams got scored on but also being sad that one of those teams scored a goal. Even with the retread teams, I always enjoy the way the outdoor games look on TV and the conditions were great yesterday.

While the Bruins found a way to win by taking advantage of the Hawks discipline and then their defensive deficiencies with a great shift, the Boston Bruins desperately need to figure out lines 2 through 4 at least in terms of consistent performance and having them on a stage like this didn’t improve that feeling. Keeping the other team in a holding pattern until the Bergeron line gets to the ice can only work so many times and it has been shown to be quite counterable. Whether it means mining Providence for new players or looking for guys elsewhere, it wouldn’t hurt to start considering your options.

As part of the event, the NHL announced next year’s special events. The All-Star game will be in St. Louis. The Heritage Classic will feature the Flames and Jets playing in Regina, Saskatchewan. The Winter Classic will feature the Dallas Stars hosting a game at the Cotton Bowl. And the Stadium Series will feature the Colorado Avalanche hosting a game at Air Force in Colorado Springs. That means the Lightning will have to wait until at least 2021 to host an outdoor game.

Get prepared for the quarter final round of the World Junior Championship by reviewing Lauren’s recap of the end of group play. Both the USA and Canada have big games today against the Czech Republic and Finland respectively. While both will be favorites, it wouldn’t be a huge upset to see either bounced before the end of the day.

Wednesday at the World Juniors

Relegation Round (best-of-3):

Game 1: Denmark vs. Kazahkstan (2pm EST/11am PST)

Players to Watch: DEN - Malte Setkov (DET), KAZ - Batyrlan Muratov

Quarterfinals

QF 1: Sweden vs. Switzerland (4pm EST/1pm PST)

Players to Watch: SWE - Rasmus Sandin (TOR), SUI - Philipp Kurashev (CHI)

QF 2: Canada vs. Finland (6:30pm EST/3:30pm PST)

Players to Watch: CAN - Jaret Anderson-Dolan (LAK), FIN - Eeli Tolvanen (NSH)

QF 3: United States vs. Czech Republic (8pm EST/5pm PST)

Players to Watch: USA - Jack Hughes (2019), CZE - Filip Zadina (DET)

QF 4: Russia vs. Slovakia (10:30pm EST/7:30pm PST)

Players to Watch: RUS - Klim Kostin (STL), SVK - Adam Ruzicka (CGY)