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Quick Strikes: Lightning’s Kucherov and Stamkos are NHL All-Stars

Well-deserved nominations for the two!

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NHL All-Star rosters were released yesterday, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have two representatives: Forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

Lightning captain Stamkos has been named to five All-Star games already: 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2018. Despite this, he still was surprised and honored by the selection.

Perhaps he was surprised because the one other player on the Lightning that could have nabbed a nom this year but didn’t was Brayden Point. Last night, Alan broken down why this selection was so puzzling:

While Stamkos has had a great first half of the season and come on strong over the last few weeks, choosing him over Point seems like a reach. Point has outscored Stamkos by nine points (52 to 43) and grades out better in terms of play driving shot metrics.

On paper, this seems like an obvious decision. Making a case for Stamkos over Point based on their play this season is difficult, if not impossible. But perhaps the league went with Stamkos because of his star power compared to the lesser known Point.

However, those who are disappointed, take heart:

Today’s news of an All-Star nod was all but the the icing on the cake for Kucherov. The Russian was also named the NHL’s first star for December after an incredible performance where he netted 9G/21A/30P, which set the franchise record for assists and points in a single month.

Kucherov’s rocking December mirrored an uptick in pretty much the entire team’s play. Alan broke down the stats behind the Lightning’s league-leading performances in his most recent ten game report.

The Lightning’s last ten games have been interesting in that they’ve been markedly different in both how they dominated their previous ten games and in their typical profile over the last two seasons. Normally, the Lightning don’t grade out well in terms of generating dangerous offense. Recently, they’ve been exceptional in that area. If they can find a way to sustain that, their already powerful offense could get even better.

Given all of this, there’s plenty of reasons to want to show your Lightning pride. So, do it with the team’s new schedule wallpaper!

The Lightning also posted the second half of Victor Hedman’s Film Room:

The Syracuse Crunch was back in action last night for their first game of 2019. The tilt was at Utica, a team that Syracuse beat 10-1 this past Saturday. Justin covered the game in his preview and his post-game recap. Unfortunately, an unusually weak third period for Syracuse doomed them to a 4-2 loss.

All season long, the Crunch have dominated the third period. They have outscored their opponent 36 to 15 in the final frame and posted an impressive 5-1 record when entering the third period tied. On the other hand, the Comets have had some rambunctious third periods, surrendering 41 goals (second worst in the AHL) while scoring 34. They’ve only emerged victorious twice in the six times they entered the final period tied. So all signs pointed to a Syracuse victory, right?

Wrong.

Goalie Eddie Pasquale was in net for Syracuse, and prior to the game shared my nomination for quote of the year with Syracuse.com (yes, I know it’s only January second, but it’s just so damn good):

“I just think (it’s) keep working hard here,’’ Pasquale said of his can-do attitude. “I’m happy to be here. I love playing in Syracuse. The American Hockey League is the second-best league in the world. So if you play well in this league, maybe you’ll get a chance up there. You’ve just got to stay positive because if you’re not putting up results here you’re not going to get a chance up there.’’

The big news about that game, though, came before it even started when it was announced that the Vancouver Canucks, Utica’s parent club, had acquired Tom Pyatt and former Crunch netminder Mike McKenna in exchange for Darren Archibald and Anders Nilsson from Ottawa. It is assumed that McKenna will eventually make his way to Utica, where he will probably get the chance to face his former team - the Crunch plays the Comets eight more times this season.

Fans of the Orlando Solar Bears can nab a BOGO deal for this weekend:

Jim Montgomery, head coach of the Dallas Stars, says he owes everything he’s achieved in his life to the way his father guided him. (Pay walled) Speaking of Dallas, they, uh, had quite an end to 2018. Elliotte Friedman addressed the drama in his 31 Thoughts.

That said, there’s something…off…between Benn and the Stars, a rumbling that they haven’t been happy with his play for the last season-and-a-half. When going, he’s an unstoppable rhino. But, as one coach said last week, “We tell our guys not to rile him up.” As a guy who has been criticized before, I loathe anyone thinking that their criticism makes me do my job better. Undoubtedly, Benn and Seguin want no part of that narrative, either. You don’t get to where they are without your own drive and desire to do so. The Stars, however, could not afford the status quo.

After you soak up his thinking about Dallas, scroll down a bit to thoughts 24 and 25 for your Lightning fix.

Theresa Boudreau is a rabid hockey fan, and she doesn’t let her age stop her. At 85 years old, she’s still just as passionate as ever. She’s also, as Michael Russo of The Athletic explains, Bruce Boudreau’s mom. (Pay-walled)

Former Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison was placed on waivers yesterday by Chicago. According to CapFriendly, it’s for the purposes of contract termination. Garrison was recently traded from Edmonton, and upon that trade was placed on waivers and cleared. According to Brandon M. Cain over at Second City Hockey, Garrison was supposed to report to Rockford of the AHL, but did not.

For those who didn’t know, our Tracey does double-duty over at Inside the AHL. Actually, I think triple duty if you count her Thunder coverage, and quadruple duty if you count her Valley Cats coverage...but, anyway, I digress. Yesterday, she broke down Crunch in-state rival Binghamton as they start their own 2019 slate. Their biggest story currently? The goaltending.

With (Eddie) Lack now done for the season after hip surgery, the tandem in net for the time being will be (Cam) Johnson in the number one role, backed up by former New Jersey draft pick Evan Cormier. Cormier was drafted by the Devils in the 4 th round in the 2016 NHL Draft, but was never signed after finishing his junior career with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.

Jesper Boqvist, a prospect who was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2017, is one of the best players in the SHL. But he’s had his struggles, and he’s learned from them, writes Måns Karlsson at EP Rinkside.

“I had three, four games at the beginning of the season that felt good. And then I had three, four games that were really bad. I didn’t do anything. I was straight up terrible. When I got benched, it worked as a wake-up call to me. I got my act together. I wasn’t playing nearly good enough, but I still believed in myself. It’s no secret that I believe in myself.”

In NWHL news, it broke yesterday that the Metropolitan Riveters acquired Russian National Team goaltender Maria Sorokina from the Connecticut Whale. The trade was made in exchange for future considerations. Mike Murphy broke down the trade over at The Ice Garden.

This is the first NWHL trade since the Whale acquired Zoe Hickel from the Boston Pride on Feb. 7, 2017. This is also the second time that the Riveters and Whale franchises have swapped goaltenders. In the NWHL’s inaugural season, the Riveters sent Shenae Lundberg to Connecticut in exchange for Chelsea Laden.