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Quick Strikes: Imagining a St. Louis, Lecavalier, Kucherov first line

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Then again, who needs to when you got Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning
Feb 21, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) scores a goal against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton (40) during a shootout at Amalie Arena. 
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost their 10-game winning streak at the hands of the Boston Bruins. Excuses aside, the team didn’t have the drive to get through the Bruins defense, and it showed on the ice and on the boxscore. It’s a shame the streak is gone, but they’ll have to start a new one on Saturday. [Raw Charge]

Boston destined for a first round showdown with the Leafs. If the Bolts can win their first-round series, they’ll face the winner. But before then, they have two more games with Boston before the end of the season. A chance to respond to this game and to build up the rivalry for a potential playoff meeting.

Before the game, the NHL staff writers took a vote and Andrei Vasilevskiy came out as the favorite for the George Vezina Trophy. He gained 75% of the votes, to boot. I think this is the year. [NHL dot com]

“Goaltenders can mask a lot of mistakes,” coach Jon Cooper said after Vasilevskiy made 20 saves to set the Lightning record with his 18th NHL shutout in a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 16, his sixth shutout of the season. “[Vasilevskiy] has taken the baton and kept it going. Watching [Vasilevskiy] really just come into his own in this league at such a young age, I couldn’t be more happy for him.”

Keeping on the goalie train of thought, Joe Smith wrote a cool thing on backup Louis Domingue and his season.

Victor Hedman got to spend a day saying “how you doin” to a bunch of really big airplanes. He’s the second coolest person I know to get to do that!

Oh, Marty. Don’t put that thought in my mind. I won’t be able to focus on anything else for the rest of the day. MSL, Vinny, and Kuch on a line? Honestly, that’s pretty damn close to heaven in my mind. The creativity, the power, the dynamism. It would be, frankly, shocking.

The Wakandan hockey player fanfic is back! Yolo Pinyato out-did themselves this time. [Raw Charge]

SHURI-BOT: A gold medalist, perennial MVP candidate and sure-fire Hall of Famer, Igilnla was one of the most talented stars in the dead puck era. He also came within a single game of being the first black captain to ever lead his team to the Stanley Cup, a feat nearly accomplished by his linemate and defensive stalwart Dirk Graham (also check that mustache!).

The Prospects

Goaltender Martin Ouellette has been recalled by the Syracuse Crunch in lieu of Eddie Pasquale’s illness. He is slated to get one of the three starts this weekend against Lehigh Valley and Rochester.

Coach Benoit Groulx gave an update on his roster below.

The Crunch also spent the day at the offices of one of their sponsors, shooting a commercial. I gotta say, the pictures are hilarious. Just look at Oleg Sosunov!

The Game

A former Edmonton Oiler, and a future former Edmonton Oiler both need lower-body surgery and will likely be gone for the rest of the season. In other news, hockey “journalists” in Edmonton continue to not be smart. C’mon, Jim.

Mats Zuccarello leaving the New York Rangers was taken pretty hard by more people than just Henrik Lundqvist. A lot of fans expect the Norwegian to return to start next season. In the meantime, Shayna wrote a very nice synopsis of him as a player. Numbers and all. [Blue Shirt Banter]

Mats Zuccarello’s value to the New York Rangers, and in general, the hockey world, spans much deeper than his 352 points in 509 regular season games show. It also transcends what the team gained in trading the right winger.

For both his actions on and off the ice, Zuccarello emerged as a part of the Rangers’ core and quickly became a fan favorite — even more so in Norway, where his success in the NHL has already changed the landscape of hockey in his home country.

Great news on the Mirco Mueller injury front. If you haven’t seen the moment from Wednesday night, go look it up. Squeamish warning.

The caption speaks for itself.

Highlight of the Night: Jonathan Quick isn’t helping the Los Angeles Kings tank, clearly.