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Quick Strikes: Playoffs!

Plus: Crunch transactions and injury news.

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Lightning

-The last time the Columbus Blue Jackets made the playoffs they were bounced in the first round. (pay-walled) They’re looking for a different result this time around, and they’re gearing up to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in a series that starts Wednesday in Tampa. (pay-walled)

When a team goes all-in at the deadline, they usually have a very real shot at the Stanley Cup and a clear path to get there. The Columbus Blue Jackets shot their shot, knowing that their best chance to win it all in the foreseeable future would be with their pending unrestricted free agent superstars carrying them.

That takes care of step one – this team is a great team when their top guys are rolling, one that can go deep if everything falls into place. Step two meant having a clear path to the Cup. For some teams, step one takes care of step two if it puts you over the top, or if you’re in a safe spot. The moves the Jackets made, however, just put them in line with other playoff teams and got them right on the playoff bubble.

-Sometimes season series can be misleading. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos isn’t about to fall into that trap.

-It looks like Victor Hedman is ready to go for game one.

The defending Norris Trophy-winning defenseman wore a regular jersey for Monday’s practice, his first with his teammates since suffering an upper-body injury in the regular season home finale March 30 versus Washington. Hedman was back in his usual spot quarterbacking Tampa Bay’s top power-play unit and was partnered with Dan Girardi on the Bolts’ top defensive pairing.

-Can’t get a ticket to the game? Attend a free concert and watch party instead!

-Are you looking for some fancy new lock screens?

-I feel like articles like this just makes the Lightning stronger.

The Lightning have played like a Stanley Cup favorite the entire season. They possess a dangerous offense, led by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, a formidable defensive corps, led by Victor Hedman, and a dominant goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

But the Lightning are not invincible.

-Alan encouraged constructive conversation and made people steaming mad at the same time yesterday with his thoughtful take on Nikita Kucherov and the Hart Trophy.

When I started writing this article, I thought I’d write something different — just an article about whether or not Kucherov should win the Hart. But that’s not what I wrote. I wrote about about the way we evaluate players and about the growing pains that come with it.

-Related:

-We see you, Anthony Cirelli:

-Charged Up! made its triumphant return yesterday with predictions galore.

On this episode, The Athletic’s Alison Lukan joins the show to talk about the first round match-up between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning. We provide our predictions for the series, the story-lines entering the series, the match-up difficulty for Columbus, the big push at the trade deadline by Columbus, the statistical differences between the two teams, and also give our first-round predictions for the rest of the playoff field.

-Hockey Unfiltered is back on Lightning Power Play radio!

-The Baylor Lady Bears hung out in a very special place in Amalie Arena recently:

The Crunch

-Although the Syracuse Crunch has three games remaining, the team has managed to secure home ice for at least this first round. Given the close geographical locations of the teams in their division, this means setting their home dates and starting to sell those tickets!

-The Crunch got a huge reinforcement back in net yesterday with the return of Eddie Pasquale to Syracuse. Phew!

-Unfortunately, with that good news came a heart-sinking tidbit on forward Daniel Walcott:

-But there might be hope on the horizon for Mitchell Stephens, Kevin Lynch, and Michael Bournival:

-Andy Andreoff has absolutely made the most of his time in Syracuse and has become super popular among the Crunch faithful.

The Solar Bears

-The Orlando Solar Bears are getting their own playoffs going this week!

-Before the playoffs came the end of the season, and the Solar Bears closed theirs out last week.

The “everything else”

-The Todd McLellan/Buffalo Sabres train was pretty hot yesterday.

-Our friend Seldo encourages the playoff-less in Vancouver to root for Toronto because of course he does.

Friends, I am here to ask you to consider that the Toronto Maple Leafs might be the team you want to consider rooting for in the 2019 NHL Playoffs. I’ll wait for you to stop swearing at me. Also, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Seriously...

-The biggest lie in hockey has been revealed: “The paint” isn’t paint.