It’s convenient that the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup, because they’ll also get to celebrate their team by hosting the NHL All-Star Game on January 25th. Sounds extremely cold, so it’s also convenient that the Tampa Bay Lightning representative this year will be Victor Hedman, who is used to Scandinavian levels of cold.
Just Hedman, you ask? Just Hedman. But as a fanbase, we have the possibility to vote for Steven Stamkos as one of the “last men in” for the fanvote that runs from January 1 - 10. Stamkos has some tough competition, so every one of us has to band together and get our captain to St. Louis!
Last man in voting begins New Year’s Day at noon ET. Candidates: pic.twitter.com/6yAfPJojD5— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 30, 2019
Back to Victor Hedman, though. Lately he’s been on a tear, registering two goals and six assists in the last three games, which were also Lightning victories. Wasn’t there a wise writer on this site that said, “As Hedman goes, so goes the team”? (It was probably Alan.) The Lightning team site points out that he’s currently 3rd in the league in defenseman points with 37 points in 35 games. Over a point-per-game isn’t so bad. He might be an OK defenseman, at this rate.
Victor Hedman (@TBLightning), Jordan Binnington (@StLouisBlues) and John Tavares (@MapleLeafs) have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Dec. 29.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 30, 2019
#NHLStats: https://t.co/dRaO4Tkkvk pic.twitter.com/4L1Qn14JDz
In other news, probably because the win column is looking up, Julien BriseBois held a press conference in which he said that Jon Cooper is not on the hot seat:
“But, are we out there working hard and competing hard? The things that we set out to work on this year, they’re all trending in the right direction. I think Coop said a nice thing over the last couple of days, last year I think our record outperformed our play. This year our play has outperformed our record. Hopefully there’s going to be some sort of regression to the mean and our record is going to catch up to our play.”
And Matt broke down why things are going the way they are in his Morning After Thoughts recapping the weekend games:
Hilariously, Tampa Bay’s shooting proficiency has dipped after their Global Series matchup, as has their goaltending. Though it should be noted that Curtis McElhinney has been stellar for the Lightning at 5v5 this season, so some of the goaltending before the Global Series is being propped up due to him. The biggest indicator that Tampa Bay should be fine moving forward is how they’re carrying play compared to earlier in the season. Like we’ve repeated before here at Raw Charge, Tampa Bay has been a top ten team in the league since their Global Series matchup, but have been stung by inconsistent goaltending.
If you’re not following Lauren’s recaps of the World Junior tournament, you should be. Her enthusiasm for the prospects and joy in the game is clear.
There’s still way too much hockey to be played to know who’s likely relegation-bound to play Kazakhstan. It really could be anyone at this point, which makes all of Group B’s games in the next two days critical. USA will finish their round robin games later today against the Czech Republic, while Russia has the day off before finishing out their round robin against Germany on New Year’s Eve.
Last but not least, Trace wrote an update from my hometown team:
This Week: Solar Bears take an extended vacation in Orlando to ring in 2020. The team has just one game on the schedule—a Sunday afternoon matchup at home against Brampton.
Yeah, the Solar Bears need a bit of a reset!
And late last night, the Lightning made a big trade for the Crunch sending Chris Mueller, who was signed as a free agent over the summer and was second on the team in scoring, to Anaheim in exchange for defender Patrick Sieloff.
If that name sounds, familiar, that’s probably because Sieloff has a reputation for physical play and sometimes, bad hits. In particular, he’s responsible for the hit that ended Clark MacArthur’s career in Senators training camp a few years ago.
Justin will have a breakdown on what this means for the Crunch in his column later today.