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Quick Strikes: Reflecting on the World Juniors

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and Erik Karlsson vs. Ryan McDonagh?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks
Jan 5, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) clears the puck against the San Jose Sharks in the first period at SAP Center at San Jose. 
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

Erik Karlsson is an incredible defenseman (who has heated up significantly after an unlucky start to the season), but Joe Smith over at The Athletic argues that Ryan McDonagh was a better fit for what the Tampa Bay Lightning wanted in a defenseman at last year’s trade deadline. [The Athletic]

The Lightning needed help on the penalty kill, which was 28th in the league last season, and McDonagh has helped it move up to ninth (82.8 percent) logging 130 minutes of shorthanded time through the first 41 games. McDonagh, a left-shot, also slid in nicely on the second pair, mentoring Cernak to the point where they often draw the opposing team’s top matchups.

Since we have another whole day before the Bolts play again, I guess we have to look at that streak-breaking game against the San Jose Sharks again. Here are three things the Lightning (hopefully) learned ahead of Tuesday’s game at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets. [NHL dot com]

“I just think as the game moved, we got tired,” Cooper said. “It’s only three games on this trip, but it’s back-to-back out west and it’s been a long trip for only three games. Guys gave it everything they had, and tonight wasn’t our night. For 16 or 17 games, it was our night. Tonight, it wasn’t.”

And as always, please vote Brayden Point into the All-Star game. He deserves it.

The Prospects

The World Juniors are over, and it was definitely an experience for us all. Not only did the United States lose in the final in heartbreaking fashion, and Canada lost in the Quarter Finals, but it was the first year this site had extensive coverage of the tournament. That coverage came entirely in the form of new contributor Lauren Kelly’s blood, sweat, tears, and passion. She was a force throughout all this, and it was really impressive to see.

Here is her final recap of the tournament. It’s over 3000 words and covers everything you might want to know about the tournament, players, or countries. Please give it a read if you haven’t already. [Raw Charge]

Whether you’ve followed along with the World Juniors coverage on Twitter or just through my recaps here, thank you. I may have fallen ill along the way and Canada may have played badly, but I’ve never had so much fun watching this tournament. I feel like I got to know the teams really well — and by the quarter-finals I found that I stopped needing to look at team rosters to check spelling, which is wild.

I’m so appreciative of everyone’s support and grateful for the friends I made along the way. This would not have been nearly as much fun without all of you! Thank you for finding my content interesting (and tolerating it taking up your timelines), and hopefully I’ll see you back again for Boxing Day!

Keeping on the WJC theme, and the winner specifically, Finland is really becoming a world power in hockey. Just look at the sheer talent in their Men’s forward corps. Look at the goaltending. They are no longer an underdog. [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

In 2009, the Finnish Ice Hockey Association (FIHA) convened a summit with all of the country’s key ice hockey personnel, hosted at the Vierumäki Sports Institute (mainly owned by the FIHA). Coaches, agents, scouts, team leaders, general managers, and others were all invited for what was essentially a brainstorm to revise their strategy on player development.

Bolt Prospects is back with prospect updates!

The Game

Wow!

Brett Howden has had some struggles in the Big Apple, but Rangers fans are not worried. That’s a shame, we definitely gave them a return policy when we sold him. [Blueshirt Banter]

At the end of November, Howden was fifth among all rookies in scoring with 13 points in his first 25 games — only two of which were earned on the power play. The 11 5v5 points he had through November 30 placed him third among all rookies, behind Elias Pettersson (13) and Colin White(12). It was undoubtedly an impressive start, but Howden’s numbers were buoyed by a 21.05 shooting percentage at 5v5 and a 102.8 PDO before December arrived.

Carter Hart is the future of the Philadelphia Flyers franchise. He needs to work. [Elite Prospects]

Hart began the 2018-19 season, his first professional season, in the American Hockey League with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. His first start was exactly what the organization and fans wanted to see, stopping 31 of 34 shots and helping the Phantoms secure a victory on opening night. What stood out the most was Hart’s composure. Though it was his first professional start and there was a great deal of hype surrounding it, Hart appeared calm and focused on the task at hand.

Highlight of the Night: Alex Ovechkin: not just a shooter.