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Quick Strikes: Cernak opens eyes at the World Championships

And the NHL playoffs grind on.

United States v Slovakia: Group A - 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images

The Bolts

Tampa Bay Lightning fans have the luck of watching Erik Cernák in the World Championships, and it’s been interesting to see what players can do when it’s not their actual job to win things. The Tampa Bay Times and the Lightning pages have had some interesting observations about his play, and we’ll be digging into his past season a bit later today for our player grades.

Erik Cernak emerged seemingly from nowhere on the Lightning’s blue line [Tampa Bay Times]

High: After dancing around each other previously, Černák dropped the gloves with heavyweight Tom Wilson on March 30 and held his own, though he lost a tooth in the duel.

Low: For a while, Černák was one of the five defensemen rotating in and out of the lineup, while the Lightning figured out what to do with seven blueliners.

Cernak has two points in Slovakia’s win [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Cernak has tallied three goals, including two game-winners and one on the power play, to go along with two assists in five tournament games. Cernak has recorded at least one point in four of Slovakia’s five contests.

If you feel like reading a vaguely depressing rant from Mr. Fennelly, have at it, but I’m not sure why you’d want to: Lightning is gone, but, stigma will linger [Tampa Bay Times]

The Lightning juggernaut is done. No use lingering around the autopsy table. Tampa Bay’s humiliating first-round hockey collapse has been registered in the book of the dead, burned into this town’s collective sports psyche. It has taken up permanent residency. If stigmas can own a voter’s card, this one does.

2018-2019 Tampa Bay Lightning player grades: Ryan McDonagh bounced back big time [Raw Charge]

McDonagh had his best season by WAR since 2015-2016 and the second best season of his career overall. That number placed him 14th overall among NHL defenders this year, which was good enough to make him a fringe Norris Trophy candidate.

But if we look below the surface, the picture isn’t quite as rosy as his WAR total would indicate. The following card shows that as well as how the community graded him. Wins Above Replacement and the expected goal impacts come from Evolving Hockey. The xG impacts include all situations.

Lightning, City of Oldsmar break ground on new public outdoor rink [Tampa Bay Lightning]

On October 25, 2017, the Lightning announced its plan to build 10 outdoor street hockey rinks across the five-county footprint of Tampa Bay by the year 2020. That included plans for a centralized Lightning Made Training Center which is already open at Power Pole Arena, Home of Xtra Ice in Tampa, that serves as the headquarters of the Lightning’s Community Hockey Department. The Oldsmar rink will be the second local rink groundbreaking, with the initial one being held at Lakewood Ranch’s Premiere Sports Campus.

The Game

The Blues beat the Sharks last night to even the Western Conference Final at two games apiece. St. Louis jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period including a goal in the first minute of the game. After that, the Sharks took over outshooting the Blues by a wide margin. But Jordan Binnington continues to look like the real deal in the St. Louis net as he allowed just one goal making sure the two first period goals were enough to hold on for the win.

For more detail, Fear the Fin has the recap. [Fear the Fin]

Wanna watch teenagers full of life and hope play some exciting hockey? Lauren has a preview of the Memorial Cup for you.

2019 Memorial Cup Preview: Halifax looks for first championship since loaded 2013 team [Raw Charge]

There is usually a favourite at this tournament, typically the team who dominated all season long (regular season and playoffs). However, it could be any one of the four teams who walk away with the Memorial Cup this season. It will all come down to how well each one utilizes their team’s strengths and exploits the other teams’ weaknesses — so here they are.

And back to the NHL, there’s a bit of front office drama.

John Davidson Resigns from Columbus Blue Jackets, Joins New York Rangers [Last word on hockey]

It’s a homecoming for Davidson, who was a goalie for the team. He helped the club reach the 1979 Stanley Cup Final where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens. Davidson then moved to the broadcast booth in 1983. He formed critically acclaimed partnerships with Sam Rosen and Mike “Doc” Emrick.

And the NWHL is having some interesting times.