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Quick Strikes: Brayden Point gets a pie in the face on his birthday

Ryan Callahan and the Lightning are 3/3 on Point’s birthday with these. C’mon, kid, show some awareness.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 11: Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 11, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Lightning defeated the Maple Leafs 6-2.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the home stretch of their regular season campaign this year. Take a look at Alan’s evaluation of the team over the past 10 games and where they are trending heading into the playoffs. [Raw Charge]

After a dip in performance in January and February, the Lightning are back to playing dominant hockey. During January and the early part of February, the team wasn’t playing particularly well. They were reliant on goaltending and shooting to steal games. Andrei Vasilevskiy and a hot power play kept the team winning during that stretch.

It was Brayden Point’s birthday yesterday, and Ryan Callahan celebrated the only way he knew how.

Which team was better: this year’s Tampa Bay Lightning, or the 1996 Detroit Red Wings? First of all, it’s crazy to think that the Lightning, who have a salary cap, are even in this all-timer discussion, but they are. [The Athletic]

“When you have a bevy of talented players behind two top-notch coaches and two organizations that are efficiently run, you get a team for the ages – and that’s what Tampa has,” Devellano said. “We had Steve Yzerman, we had (Sergei) Fedorov. We had Nicklas Lidstrom. And every night as I go to Tampa, I see (Nikita) Kucherov, I see (Steven) Stamkos, I see (Victor) Hedman and Brayden Point. It’s so identical that I can hardly separate them.

With the injuries they’ve had, the Bolts have been experimenting with defensive pairings, especially with Jan Rutta, to find what fits. [Tampa Bay Times]

“They’ve done well,” Jon Cooper said. “Sergy, he’s been pretty comfortable playing on both sides and that helps. Both can skate, they can move the puck. For the couple of games they’ve been together, they’ve driven some offense. The thing is not to spend a lot of time in their own D-zone and that’s been big.”

The Prospects

JustinG. went through the Syracuse Crunch and graded all the rookies on the roster as the season begins to wind down. [Raw Charge]

With the Syracuse Crunch 60 games into the season, it’s a good time to check back in to see how the rookies are doing. As banged up as the team has been throughout the year, it’s a bit surprising that they haven’t added any new faces, either through a PTO or a call up from Orlando. That could changed over the next couple of weeks as organizations sign college free agents and the players still in juniors see their seasons come to an end.

Crunch defenseman Hubert Labrie got a bit of a surprise when his friends showed up to his game sporting all of his old jerseys from his time back in Quebec.

The juggernaut that is the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t come about overnight. It was born and nurtured by the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL long before results were seen in the NHL. EP with more. [Elite Prospects]

Yes, there will be cap issues. Good teams always face them eventually. Also, many years of being a contender will usually impact a team’s ability to pick the sweetest cherries from the Draft smorgasbord. And having a powerhouse roster will quite ironically limit your opportunity to give young players the time on ice they may require to fully bloom. Intimidating competition and a tight cap strap usually won’t make you a good fit for attractive free agents, being it established players or late-blooming prospects from Europe or College.

But why spend money on July 1st when your fourth-round draft picks show up at training camp, on fire and ready to kick some serious ass?

The Game

The story of the evolution of hockey as it diversifies. [The Guardian]

But the the demographics of the United States and Canada are changing. Even if the NHL’s primary audience still represents the old guard, the league clearly understands that it needs a new one to survive. “Now, more than ever, hockey communities and leaders must focus on the drastic demographic and cultural change that is coming,” a 2018 NHL policy brief reads. “It is incumbent upon those currently in the game – for the sake of the game’s future – to ensure that the sport is perceived as welcoming to all.”

The NHL Draft Lottery will be on April 9th, running from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Carey Price is now the winningest goaltender in Montreal Canadiens franchise history. His story below. [Sportsnet]

On March 12, 2019, Carey Price passed Hall-of-Famer Jacques Plante to become the winningest goaltender in the 110-year history of the Montreal Canadiens. A 20-save performance against the Detroit Red Wings earned him the 315th victory of his career. The win came in the first year of an eight-year, $84-million contract, and barring a trade out of town or some sort of disaster, it serves as the demarcation point for the 31-year-old running away with the franchise record.

Highlight of the Night: Somehow the Maple Leafs found a way to get down 5-0 in two periods against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, but come back to only lose 5-4. I’m sure Steve Dangle took it w-- oh, I guess not.