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Quick Strikes: Kucherov is the NHL’s first star of the week!

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Plus: The Lightning take on Columbus, and the Crunch lose to Toronto.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kuch

I swear, every single QS I do features Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov getting accolades for something new and amazing. I might just have a permanent section all about him.

To start, he had five points in last night’s 5-1 victory over Columbus giving him 99 on the season in just 60 games. Absurd.

According to Hockey Reference, the last players to score at least 99 points in their teams’ first 60 games of the season were Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in 1995-1996. I had a hard time focusing on the rest of the game because I cannot get my brain to process what Kucherov is doing right now. He’s making 2019 goalies look like mid 90s goalies. He’s racking up multi-point games at an absurd pace.

What else is new with him this week? Well, with ten points in three games, he’s the NHL’s first star of the week.

He is also this close to earning 100 points this season.

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Who’s winning the race to ?

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The Lightning

-Kucherov might be all the rage, but Andrei Vasilevskiy is no slouch, either.

-The Lightning have continued to stay motivated despite winning nearly all the things - weekly awards, games, polls, etc. - this season. How are they doing it?

“We have a chip on our shoulder,” Steven Stamkos said, per USA Today. “I’m sure there are a lot of teams that would be happy to go to a Stanley Cup Final and three of the last four Eastern Conference Finals. That’s tough to do. But with the expectations being so high for our group, we came into this year thinking this was our year, our turn.”

-Tampa took on Columbus yesterday. The game had interesting playoff implications.

The Bolts have won seven of their last ten games and gotten points in nine of those. The Jackets have split their last ten, winning five and losing five. Both teams currently sit in playoff positions but at opposite ends of the spectrum. Tampa leads the Eastern Conference by 16 points. The Jackets are in the wild-card scrum currently tied with Montreal and Pittsburgh, but with two games in hand on both.

-There are quite a few players on the Lightning who are heading for franchise records. So many, actually, that it can be hard to keep track of. Geo wrote a helpful article yesterday, summarizing the upcoming milestones.

...there are a few more Lightning franchise records that are poised to fall. Some could very well fall this week and others might fall by the end of the season.

-The Lightning’s LGBTQ+ hockey clinic is coming up!

-I keep typing this, but it keeps being true, so...here we go again. The trade deadline is coming, and many eyes seem to be on the Bolts. Sean McIndoe (Down Goes Brown) wrote his deadline predictions in a pay walled article for The Athletic, but also helpfully put this information in a tweet:

The org

-The Syracuse Crunch are in a bit of slump right now. The team is 1-3-0-1 dating back February 10th, and yesterday they lost to the Toronto Marlies 5-3 after having a 3-1 lead at the end of the second. The game marked a milestone that isn’t exactly favorable, but still speaks to how good the Crunch have been this season.

-Local Crunch fans can catch Alex Volkov and Oleg Sosunov at an appearance this Thursday.

-Syracuse’s Pink in the Rink game is this Saturday. The team will come together with their fans to honor those who have battled or are battling breast cancer, and to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

-The Crunch’s hallmark event of the season, Crunch At Your Service, is coming up fast. Those local to the team would do well to get their seat soon!

-Tracey checked in with her weekly article on the Orlando Solar Bears. The ECHL team of the Lightning and the Crunch are doing well.

After a perfect week last week, the Orlando Solar Bears were hoping to carry that momentum into another three-game set this week. Despite a slow start, the team found their offensive stroke in a big way. As a result, they moved up in the ECHL’s South Division standings.

-The Solar Bears announced yesterday that they have signed rookie forward Liam Bilton on a Standard Player Contract.

The other

-Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo continues to pay tribute to those lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland a year ago. The mask he wore this past Thursday, the anniversary of the shooting, “featured several tributes, including 17 burning candles to mark each of the lives lost.”

-The NHL.com assembled an eight-person roundtable of NHL.com staffers and had them have a go at picking the best American player. Our award for most convincing argument goes to Amalie Benjamin, who picked Hilary Knight.

No, she might not play in the NHL, but that doesn’t mean that Knight couldn’t be considered the best U.S.-born hockey player in the game today.

-Jordan Samuels-Thomas of The Athletic discusses why he thinks Dallas Eakins is the right fit as the next head coach of the Anaheim Ducks in this pay walled article from The Athletic.

-Marian Hossa spoke to Scott Powers of The Athletic in this pay walled article about the painful skin condition that ended Hossa’s career.