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Quick Strikes: Lightning prospect Alex Barré-Boulet named to the 2018-19 AHL All-Rookie team

Also: The Lightning lose to Columbus in game one of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Syracuse Crunch Alex Barré-Boulet (12) battles for the puck against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, March 1, 2019. Syracuse won 4-0.
Scott Thomas Photography

The Headline

As the headline states, the AHL’s All-Rookie team was revealed yesterday, and Alex Barre-Boulet of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization was named to it. A forward currently lighting things up with the Syracuse Crunch, Barre-Boulet has had one of the most memorable rookie seasons in recent memory.

Alex Barre-Boulet, Forward (Syracuse Crunch):The Player of the Year in the Canadian Hockey League last season, Alex Barre-Boulet has had a standout debut campaign in the pro ranks. Barre-Boulet is tied for the overall league lead with 33 goals and paces all AHL rookies with 64 points, 16 power-play goals, six game-winning goals and 216 shots on goal in 71 games for Syracuse heading into the final weekend of the regular season. A 21-year-old from Montmagny, Que., Barre-Boulet signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Mar. 1, 2018.

The Lightning

-The Lightning got their playoffs going against Columbus yesterday. Pre-game, Alan sat the fan base down for an old-fashioned heart--to--heart.

The NHL allows over half of the league into its tournament, awards no advantages to higher seeds other than one extra game of home-ice, and waits for the chaos to unfurl. This is what people love about the NHL playoffs. Especially casual fans, fans of non-playoff teams in a given year, and fans of teams in the muddy middle. Knowing anything can happen on any night makes every game worth watching and gives every fan of every team that makes the tournament at least a sliver of hope.

But for those of us who root for one of the best teams, or in this case, THE best team, this is where things get dicey. If the Lighting have to win the Cup for this season to be a success, then we are setting ourselves up for a brutal disappointment.

-It probably isn’t a surprise to anyone that the Lightning are carrying more playoff experience than the Blue Jackets. But just how different have their experiences been?

Whenever we get into the playoffs, I like to look at both teams in a series and compare their NHL playoff experience. The Tampa Bay Lightning have gotten plenty of experience in the playoffs. 11 players currently on the roster have been with the team since the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals run (or longer) and many of the other players that have been brought in have also had playoff experience elsewhere along the way. The Columbus Blue Jackets on the other hand have never made it out of the second round, so players that have been with them for a while have not had an opportunity to rack up experience or points in the playoffs.

-Unfortunately, all of the “we’re prepared,” “this is a new season,” etc. platitudes ended up sounding quite hollow after what turned out to be a lack-luster performance. Tampa fell in game one to the Blue Jackets, 4-3.

The only way to erase narratives is to have your play on the ice say otherwise. For 20 minutes, the Lightning were doing that. Controlling play and shell-shocking the Columbus Blue Jackets en route to a strong start to the playoffs. A lackluster two periods ended up sucking the life out of them as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Lightning 4-3 to take a 1-0 series lead. The Lightning made season and franchise history this evening as they blew a three-goal lead for the first time all season and for the first time ever in the post season—yes, ever.

-Defenseman Jan Rutta was the talk of the town yesterday.

-Tampa has new nameplates for the playoffs, complete with a....rather interesting motivational phrase.

-Everyone knows how good the Lightning were during this past regular season, but how did that amazing team come together? Joe Smith answers that question in this pay-walled article.

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik called it one of the most important days in franchise history.

And it didn’t start off well.

Two days before the start of free agency in the summer of 2016, then-general manager Steve Yzerman and his right-hand man, assistant GM Julien BriseBois, were in their Amalie Arena offices early in the morning. Their captain and the face of the franchise, Steven Stamkos, was 48 hours away from being the most coveted unrestricted free agent in a decade. And after Stamkos’ meetings with several suitors, including his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning had a bad feeling. Tampa Bay had held firm to its best offer in January, and wouldn’t be able to outbid teams.

“We thought he was gone,” BriseBois said.

-Those attending playoff games at Amalie Arena have a new concessions offering!

The Crunch

-Going into the last weekend of the season, the Crunch is sitting at number three in Patrick Williams’ power rankings.

The good news for the Crunch is that goaltender Eddie Pasquale is back from Tampa Bay. They took road wins against the Belleville Senators and Rochester Americans but stumbled badly in the week-closing game, a 5-2 home loss to the Amerks. Syracuse has a 3-in-3 weekend to finish the regular season, but they look like a team in flux at the moment. They have three games to iron out those issues or an excellent regular season could unravel come playoff time.

-Syracuse is having a special raffle Friday night, bringing back a popular item with fans from a few years ago: Player baskets. All proceeds from the raffle will go to Change for Change.

Each Crunch player created a basket filled with their favorite things, including snacks, movies, activities and more. The baskets will be on the second floor of the War Memorial Arena during the April 12 game. Fans will be able to purchase raffle tickets and drop them into jars to be entered to win a basket.

-Boris Katchouk was the last player standing in the Crunch’s poker tournament last night at Turning Stone Resort and Casino.

-The Crunch’s front office hosted some season ticket holders Monday night, and one lucky one got their season tickets free after a lucky shot!

-Here’s some stuff on Ben Thomas:

-Not only does Ephesus Lighting light the Onondaga County War Memorial, it also lights up Amalie Arena! Here’s some information on their AHL Stick Donation program.

The Solar Bears

-The Orlando Solar Bears got their playoffs going last night, too. At the start of their series against the South Carolina Stingrays, the Solar Bears appeared to have all of the momentum.

“Going into the playoffs hot, you can’t ask for anything better,” forward Mitch Hults said Tuesday. “Everyone’s feeling good, and we’ve got some hot sticks in the lineup here and there.”

The mayor of Orlando had a message for the OSB:

-Unfortunately, Orlando didn’t exactly get off to a good start in their series, losing in a shutout.