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Quick Strikes: Seven Tampa Bay Lightning players take part in IIHF World Championships

And the Solar Bears keep truckin’ along in the second round!

Tampa Bay Lightning v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Three Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Bolts

Do you hanker for Bolts hockey and enjoy international tournaments? Seven Tampa Bay Lightning players will continue to apply sticks to pucks this summer for the IIHF World Championships, beginning on May 10th in Slovakia. Five of these players are playing in this tournament for the first time, with the only repeat players being Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Here’s the TBT piece: Seven Lightning players to play in the world championships [TBTimes, paid content]

Federations announced their IIHF world championship rosters on Monday. Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph (Canada), Ondřej Palát (Czech Republic), Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Russia), and Erik Černák (Slovakia) will all play in the tournament.

THN wrote a thought piece about cases for each of these players to win the Hart.


Contextualization of his output gives him the best shot at winning, though, as Kucherov paced the most lethal attack the league has seen in the current era and was a centerpiece on one of the greatest regular season teams in NHL history. Tampa Bay led the NHL with 319 goals, the most of any team since the 1995-95 season, and the Lightning’s 62 wins matched the record for most in a single season, finishing even with the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings. (Coincidentally, neither team won the Stanley Cup.)


Who do you reckon wins the Hart?

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Some of us are still trying to contextualize what happened in the first round. TBTimes posits that “winning too much” in the regular season was detrimental to the team. Was it? Or was it something more realistic, like ... Andrei Vasilevskiy’s groin health?

NHL upsets are not a get-out-of-jail free card for Lightning [TBTimes, paid content]

But there is more than a decade of evidence that suggests the number of victories in the NHL regular season has less correlation with postseason success than you might expect.

By the end of next month, a No. 1 seed in either conference will have won only one of the last 11 Stanley Cups, and that was from a strike-shortened regular season. Those No. 1 seeds would have had a better shot at winning if you were just pulling names out of a hat.

Others of us think it was due to EA Sports picking the Bolts as winner, thereby cursing them. If we’re getting into superstition territory, I guess this is just as likely as Steven Stamkos touching the President’s trophy.

EA Sports’ NHL Simulation Has a Stanley Cup Curse in Effect [VGR]

Sorry, Steven Stamkos and Tampa Bay Lightning. You may have owned the NHL’s best record, but thanks to the NHL 19 simulation, you were predicted to win. That means you lose in the real NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Maybe next season the simulation will predict another team and relieve you all of “the curse.”

BUT MOVING ON, let’s talk about how every player did last season. Our leader loserpoints kicked us off with Ryan Callahan.

Tampa Bay Lightning 2018-2019 player grades: Ryan Callahan embraced a new role [Raw Charge]

In total, the community gave him a C+. Readers were a little higher on him than the writers, but not by much. He got a wide variety of grades, including a healthy number in the B range from readers, which was understandable considering how willing he was to do what was best for the team.

And lest we get too comfortable, let’s talk about how JBB is going to rebuild the team this summer.

Four Eastern Conference Clubs Facing Salary Cap Constraints [My NHL Trade Rumors]

Lightning GM Julien BriseBois must free up some salary-cap room to sign Point and re-sign or replace those veteran blueliners. The New York Post‘s Larry Brooks expects BriseBois will buy out the final season of aging right wing Ryan Callahan ($5.8 million). He also believes forward J.T. Miller, who’s carrying a $5.25-million salary-cap hit through 2022-23, will be shopped this summer.


The Prospects

We still have a team in the playoffs, and Trace is delineating their journey: Solar Bears Postseason Update #3 [Raw Charge]

Orlando was not about to roll over, and they mounted a third period rally. Chris LeBlanc scored his third goal of the postseason at the 6:03 mark to cut the Florida lead in half. Brent Pedersen then tied the game at 2 with 9:24 to go in regulation with his second of the playoffs.

For the second straight night, it was on to overtime. This time, Florida got the better of Ingram—Tommy Thompson scored at the 12:08 mark of the first overtime session to give the Everblades the win, evening the series at one game apiece.

Solar Bears return home with confidence [Don Money]

Central Florida’s version of road warriors begin a stretch of three games on home ice Tuesday night as the best-of-seven ECHL South Division finals shift to Orlando for games 3, 4 and 5. With the series against the Everblades tied at one victory apiece, the 2-3-2 format will give the Solar Bears the opportunity to take control and even close out the series should Orlando come away with wins in all three games in front of their fans.

More exit interviews. Watch for a moving Syracuse Crunch season farewell from our Crunch editor Allovimo later today.

The Game

The Blues beat the Stars 4-3 in the only game last night. Check out the recap over at Defending Big D.

While plenty of people are going to lay a good chunk of the blame of tonight’s loss on Bishop’s shoulders, he got left out to dry a time or ten tonight and managed to keep the Stars within a goal when it easily could have really gotten away from them much earlier in the game.

It came down to execution and, as cliche as it sounds, the other team wanting it more. Dallas has proven that they can get the puck past Jordan Binnington. Keeping their defensive structure and winning more of the puck battles to setup more consistent puck possession in the offensive zone will be needed to even the series up 48 hours from now.

Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award finalists announced []

The finalists are Anthony Benavides of Detroit, Michigan, director of the Clark Park Recreation Center; Tammi Lynch of Ellicott City, Maryland, founder of Players Against Hate; and Rico Phillips of Flint, Michigan, founder of the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program. Fans can vote for the winner by visiting

‘Be the best individual you can be’: Willie O’Ree documentary is a story of perseverance [Boston Globe]

The wonderful story that is Willie O’Ree, the ex-Bruin winger who became the first player of color to suit up in the NHL in 1958, is about to play to a much bigger audience, beginning April 29 in Toronto. “Willie”, a splendid 89-minute documentary about his life’s journey, will make its debut at Hot Docs, the annual Canadian International Documentary Festival in downtown Toronto.

It’s nice to see a different GM getting raked across the coals for a change: Grading Kyle Dubas after his first year as Leafs GM [The Star]

Dubas, I’ll grant you, has more of a vision than Ferguson, or most other GMs. Whether the word “tunnel” will ever be used in front of his vision remains to be seen, a product of whether he can learn from his own mistakes, and the mistakes of others.

Speaking of:

And a tiny bit of news from the “Grass Bolts”