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Quick Strikes: Celebrating the Lightning

Plus: Crunch-y stuff.

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bolts

-In case you missed it, the Tampa Bay Lightning have claimed the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy. They are now the second-fastest team in NHL history to claim the coveted seasonal milestone. The Lightning may have made a splash in a big way this season, but they’ve actually gotten here through a series of smaller, consistent waves.

Ironically, one of big reasons why the Lightning have been able to produce this historic regular season is that the team doesn’t seem overly concerned about the historic nature of this regular season. In other words, Lightning players and coaches have been consistent in stating that they haven’t focused on regular season records, point totals or milestones. Instead, they’ve put their energy into a singular objective - trying to improve their game every day.

-Here’s a very humble Steven Stamkos on his new place in Lightning history:

-Perhaps slightly lost in this record-breaking season is the emergence of Anthony Cirelli:

The Crunch

-Syracuse is in the middle of what may prove to be their biggest week of the season. Currently, the Crunch are in Charlotte, facing off against the very best the Eastern Conference has to offer.

They played a game there last night, and face them again tonight. Last night, Syracuse got off to a strong start against Charlotte, and led them 1-0 through more than two periods before giving up a power play goal in the third. The team’s tenacity came through, though, and the Crunch ended up winning in overtime 2-1!

It was a battle of contrasting defensive styles as the Checkers stymied the Crunch in the neutral zone, forced them to dump the puck in and then didn’t allow them any time or space in the offensive zone. Syracuse had to scratch and claw for each opportunity and could only muster 20 shots on net.

On defense they allowed Charlotte to enter the zone, but then prevented them any dangerous chances by blocking a multitude of shots and quickly pouncing on loose pucks and clearing them out of the zone. Despite the focus on defense, it was a very entertaining game and portends to what could be an excellent playoff match-up.

-Much like the Lightning and Cirelli, the Crunch have their own rookie that’s emerged to lead the pack: Alex Barre-Boulet.

-Another story of the night, as Justin pointed out in his recap, was that goalie Eddie Pasquale has set a new career high in wins!

Eddie Pasquale set a new career-high with 24 wins as he stopped 23 of 24 shots in the victory.

-As Justin mused in his Crunch Corner yesterday, the biggest story of this part of the season, though, may oddly turn out to be what most thought was just a footnote: The emergence of goalie Martin Ouellete.

It appears he isn’t letting this chance slide by. He’s made four starts this season (and one relief appearance) and is 3-0-1 with 1.62 GAA and .938 Save Percentage. In three of his starts his starts he’s allowed just one goal. Much like Louis Domingue in Tampa, he’s filled the dual role of backup goaltender nicely. In that position, his first job is to give the starter, Pasquale, a breather. Secondly, he’s expected to still give Syracuse a chance to win every time he steps on the ice. Fact is, the Crunch aren’t losing points when he’s in net.

Orlando

-Connor Ingram highlight reel save alert!

Prospects

-Lightning prospect Sammy Walker is the 2018-19 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Other

-The newest podcast from In Goal Magazine is out. It features kay Whitmore, Henrik Lundqvist, and Frederik Andersen.

-Roshaun Brown-Hall is a teenaged hockey player who was subjected to racial slurs during a hockey game between teams from Amherst and Cheektowaga this past January. Justin Bailey, a former Amherst Knight hockey player now plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, has reached out to Brown-Hall in the hopes of encouraging the young man.

“It’s a sport that’s growing with all ethnicities. It’s great to see more and different ethnicities that are playing the game and I think something like that would be, you know, discouraging, terrible for a young kid to ever have to worry about.”

-Speaking of trying to grow the game, Mike Murphy of Blue Shirt Banter told the story of Larry Kwong yesterday. Kwong suited up for just one shift with the New York Rangers in March of 1948.

On March 13, 1948, Kwong became the first person of color to play in the NHL when he made his debut with the Rangers. Less than a year before, Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Unlike Robinson, Kwong did not stay in the show after proving himself more than worthy in the farm league. The “China Clipper” had a brief stint in New York — his NHL career lasted just a single shift.

-In the same theme: Brady Keeper is the first person from the Pimicikamak Cree Nation to make it to the NHL. His story is remarkable, and one so desperately needed in these times.

It may be equally as unbelievable for kids back in remote Cross Lake, a reserve 10 hours north of Winnipeg. Cross Lake became a national story in Canada in 2016 when five teenagers in the community committed suicide, while 140 others attempted suicide in the weeks that followed – prompting Cross Lake to declare a state of emergency.

Keeper’s story is a breath of fresh air, an enormous positive for an entire generation of indigenous youth.

These stories give me hope.

-Detroit Red Wings’ Jacob de la Rose left Tuesday night’s game and went to the hospital with an accelerated heart rate.

-The Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL raised a record-breaking $25,169 during their Stick-it-to-Cancer weekend. Included in that total was the auctioning off of Shane Conacher’s Hockey Fights Cancer jersey, which sold for $2,350. Shane, younger brother of Cory Conacher, spent some time in Syracuse last season and was recently diagnosed with Stage 1 testicular cancer.

-Rebecca Johnston of the Calgary Inferno, Marie-Philip Poulin of Les Canadiennes de Montréal, and Natalie Spooner are this year’s nominees for the 2019 CWHL MVP.

-The Connecticut Whale has finished in the bottom of the NWHL’s standings for the third straight season.

The Connecticut Whale finished the regular season at the bottom of the NWHL’s standings with a record of 2-12-2. After winning two games against the Metropolitan Riveters in a span of three weeks, the Whale lost their final 10 games of the season and only one of those losses was by a one-goal margin.

-Why are there so few women coaching Canadian minor hockey? Sean Fitz-Gerald of the Athletic took a look at this issue in his pay-walled article posted yesterday.