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Quick Strikes: Oilers, Flyers swap goalies, Cory Schneider wins a game, and Nikita Kucherov deserves your respect

Lots of goalie talk today. Talbot, Schneider, Vasilevskiy, Ingram, Stolarz, and Luongo!

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Edmonton Oilers
Dec 22, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov (86) during the second period at Rogers Place.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

Nikita Kucherov is historically good, but no one believes him because he’s on the Tampa Bay Lightning. [Raw Charge]

I’m normally hesitant to acknowledge “on-pace-for” stats. They’re usually misleading because players don’t keep up what they do in small samples over a full season. But Kuch’s outrageous scoring pace has gone on long enough that we have to start paying attention. And so, for as long as this continues, we’ll be checking in at least once per week on how his season is progressing. As of last night, he has 92 points in 58 games.

Nikita Kucherov is historically good, but no one believes him because he’s on the Tampa Bay Lightning. [The Hockey News]

Last year, the Hart Trophy debate revolved around whether the Professional Hockey Writers Association could name someone “the player judged most valuable to his team” if that player’s team missed the playoffs. The answer was no. Connor McDavid was the consensus pick for “world’s best player” but, captaining an Edmonton Oilers team out of contention, he only finished fifth in Hart voting, while Taylor Hall, who carried the New Jersey Devils singlehandedly to the postseason, took the most-valuable award.

Steven Stamkos is also on his way to making history. Franchise history, which is saying something for this young, but storied organization. [Tampa Bay Times]

He started his NHL career as a teenage phenom, 2008’s No. 1 overall draft pick here to save the Lightning. He was a rising star then on a not-great team. In the ensuing years, Stamkos dealt with injuries. He became a playmaker.

Through it all, Stamkos has been a pure goal scorer, the best the organization has had. And he’s on the verge of the ultimate proof.

*Eyes emoji*

The Prospects

It was a tight one, but the Syracuse Crunch came out victorious over the Rochester Americans on the back of a Connor Ingram shutout to take over first place in the North Division. Great success! [Raw Charge]

With the win the Crunch move into first place in the North Division for now. They also snapped a two-game losing streak and a 135:14 scoreless streak. With the win, they finish their five-game road trip with a 3-2 record and more importantly they pick up three out of four points against the Amerks. They won’t have long to celebrate as the two teams travel up to Syracuse for a rematch on Saturday.

Here’s the goal!

And the proof!

If the Crunch plan to consistently succeed in the AHL, they need to keep up playing a strong, relentless brand of hockey. It works for them so let’s keep it rolling. [Raw Charge]

The Crunch are not a “grind it out down low, posses the puck for a long time before scoring” type of team. Yes, they can and will do that, but when they are at their best they are a team that strikes quickly, often off transition. They have to create turnovers. How do they do that? By forechecking with aggression, harassing puck carriers the length of the ice, and stepping up in the neutral zone to challenge entries. All of these things are hallmarks of the “heavy stick” hockey that Coach Groulx likes to see.

The Game

The Edmonton Oilers have traded their former-franchise goalie Cam Talbot to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Anthony Stolarz. This deal essentially ended up being a cap dump in order for the Oilers to activate Andrej Sekera from the injured reserve list. I mean, they could’ve just not traded for current-scratches Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning, but I’m sure the Oilers know what they’re doing. [Broad Street Hockey]

Stolarz, 25, has appeared in 12 games for the Philadelphia Flyers this season, posting a .902 save percentage on his way to a 4-3-3 record. The 6’6” netminder missed almost the entirety of last season with a knee injury, but has been enjoying a comeback season that saw him back in the NHL where he had previously played just seven games. The 2012 second-round pick had at one point served as the third-string goaltender in the AHL prior to his recall in late November, but since then has been a mainstay with the Flyers outside of a quick conditioning stint in January.

The Flyers — who finally look like they have a goalie of the future — decided to cement themselves in goalie history before (hopefully) riding off in the sunset with Carter Hart.

And on the Oilers front, things continue to fall apart. Jesse Puljujarvi and his camp have finally come to the conclusion that Edmonton wouldn’t be the best place for the teenager. I smell move. [Sportsnet]

“It’s kind of hard for me to think you can hit the reset button,” mused Lehto, who spoke briefly with team president Bob Nicholson Friday when the two ran into each other outside a Starbucks near the hotel. “Going to the American League… Jesse was already there. There was a great plan, then things changed…”

It’s cute that the New York Islanders think they’re making it past the first round.

Mike McKenna continues to be perfect.

Cory Schneider didn’t win a game in 2018, but he finally got back in the win column following an amazing 4-1 comeback against the Minnesota Wild. Below Elliotte Friedman’s tweet is Roberto Luongo’s interview with Friedman and Jeff Marek, 19:00 in he talks about Schneider and how he’s dealing with his struggles mentally. It’s definitely worth a listen, in my opinion. [All About the Jersey]

In a lost season like this one, we fans have to find and appreciate the “little victories” that occur. That could be a milestone performance, seeing a favorite player have a great night, witnessing a highlight, or watching a win that means something. The Devils are still mortal locks for missing the playoffs and receiving a high draft pick in the first round. But this win surely means a lot to Schneider and the organization that stuck with him. No wonder Cangialosi was so exuberant.

Highlight of the Night: Looks like someone finally came up with a WAR stat that works.