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Lightning Round: does Erik Cernak deserve a suspension?

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How do you feel about the latest DoPS rulings?

Anaheim Ducks v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 23: Erik Cernak #81 of the Tampa Bay Lightning gets ready for the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Amalie Arena on November 23, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Lightning continued their winning ways, notching their third win in a row with a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabreswhom you may remember the Bolts made a trade with just two days ago.

The Lightning scored three goals on special teams (Mikhail Sergachev on the power play, Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat shorthanded) en route to the commanding win. Andrei Vasilevskiy has not had a great start to the season, but he stopped 28 of 30 shots and played really well.

We will have a full recap of the game this morning with details and analysis of the game, but in the meantime, have a look at our QuickCap with impressions and highlights.

Wins are wins and especially in November so we’ll take it. The penalty kill was dynamic and that’s always fun to watch. Also worth noting is that Andrei Vasilevskiy was solid tonight. He had a rough stretch prior to last game so it was good to see him have a second consecutive good performance.

However, in the game, Erik Cernak took liberties with a pretty dirty hit on Rasmus Dahlin while on the penalty kill. It was an unnecessary elbow to the face of Dahlin while reaching to stop his shot. Desperate and reckless. As a result, Cernak will have a hearing on Tuesday for the incident.

Based on recent incidents also looked at by the Department of Player Safety, I fully expect Cernak to get some sort of punishment. Alex Kerfoot was given a two-game suspension on Monday for a slew-foot type hit on Erik Johnson, and Robert Bortuzzo was given four games for his vicious cross-checks on Viktor Arvidsson.

Adding more information to this story, Dahlin suffered a concussion on the play. Below is a couple videos that show the hit from a couple different angles.

Where do you stand on the hit? What do you think is a fair punishment? Should Cernak get less than Bortuzzo? More than Kerfoot?

To me, I think Cernak deserves some games. You don’t want players doing things like that that are obviously dangerous, especially if gone wrong. Personally, I think Bortuzzo should’ve gotten closer to 40 games than four, so there’s no way Cernak deserves that many. Was his play more malicious than Kerfoot’s slew foot? I think so. Therefore, he’ll probably get 2-3 games and we’ll see him next week.

Looking at how a suspension would affect the Lightning roster, let’s have a quick look at what the situation is currently. The Bolts have approximately $1.8 million in cap space with a full 23 players on the roster. It will be 22 if Cernak gets suspended. The Lightning also have the option to place Steven Stamkos on retroactive IR so create a roster spot and/or cap space as well. Anyone in the minors could be called up to take a spot at forward or defense.

Luke Schenn is already on the roster, so he will be the obvious fill-in. As to recall options, Luke Witkowski, Cameron Gaunce, and Dominik Masin are all available. At forward, Cory Conacher was a scratch in the Sabres game so he’s already there in case the Lightning want to go 12F/6D. I’d like to see Alexander Volkov maybe get another chance.

Bolts News

From the site, Alan wrote intelligently about the Lightning’s last 10 games. He has charts and graphs that should make us worry about November’s performance. [Raw Charge]

At first glance, it looks like the division might have five or six competitive teams this season. But upon a deeper look, none of those teams have a particularly strong statistical profile. The Lightning have as much a claim as anyone else in that group to having played the best so far this season. The Bruins have racked up points and a big goal differential but they’ve relied on shooting and goaltending to get there. Their 5v5 shot metrics are middling.

In the ECHL, Tracey has all your info on the week that was for the Orlando Solar Bears. They just got a new player via trade so there’s lots to talk about. [Raw Charge]

Forward Tayler Thompson, who originally signed with Orlando in the offseason, but then left for the Czech Republic, returned to the team on Monday after appearing in 4 games for Pirati Chomutov. In a common ECHL transaction, the team suspended Thompson in late September to keep his playing rights, in the event he returned to North America.

Highlights of the Night

It was a busy night in the NHL so here’s a quick run-down of the scores:

Tampa Bay Lightning 5 - 2 Buffalo Sabres
New York Rangers 3 - 2 Minnesota Wild (OT)
Philadelphia Flyers 2 - 1 Vancouver Canucks
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 - 2 Calgary Flames
Columbus Blue Jackets 1 - 0 Ottawa Senators
Nashville Predators 3 - 2 St. Louis Blues (SO)
Dallas Stars 4 - 2 Vegas Golden Knights
Anaheim Ducks 3 - 0 New York Islanders
San Jose Sharks 3 - 4 Los Angeles Kings (OT)

The Blues deserved this for how Bortuzzo acted.

The old man still has it!

And the Islanders lose their team point streak. John Gibson remains personally undefeated.