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Quick Strikes: Gary Bettman testifies in concussion lawsuit

and the Syracuse Crunch conducted their exit interviews.

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Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 03: Blake Coleman #20 of the New Jersey Devils punches Ondrej Palat #18 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at the Prudential Center on December 03, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning defeated the Devils 5-1.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Bolts

The Tampa Bay Lightning have some restricted free agents in need of a new contract for the next year. Geo has a look at each player and whereabouts their number will land and for how long. [Raw Charge]

Every summer, there are a number of players with their current contract expiring. For some of these players, they will have the opportunity to explore unrestricted free agency and have at least some input on their next playing destination. For the rest that haven’t qualified to be unrestricted free agents yet, they will become restricted free agents (RFAs). This summer, the Lightning have eight players that are RFAs.

As the player grades progress, we reach Cedric Paquette’s time for an evaluation. Long story short, he improved. By how much is the more complicated answer. [Raw Charge]

Cedric Paquette was a player that I entered the year thinking really needed to have a good, and healthy, season for the Lightning. He’s not a high impact player as a fourth line center, but you do need to have that depth from top to bottom to be a successful team and put up a season like the Tampa Bay Lightning had this year. I’m still of the opinion that Paquette could be on the move this summer with Mitchell Stephens waiting in the AHL as a potential replacement for him. So his strong season could help to boost his value on the trade market if the Lightning front office decides to let him go.

The Score did a mock draft of the first round of the NHL Draft. The Lightning pick in it this year, and The Score chose German defenseman Moritz Seider as their pick. [The Score]

Keep an eye on Seider, who’s been ranked anywhere from 11th to 27th this year. The German defenseman played in the top German men’s league this season and helped his teammates win D1A world juniors gold. Seider is a great skater with good vision and strong shots. He sometimes gets out of position in his own end while looking for a hit, but that part of his game can be coached and developed.

Ondrej Palat is playing in his first IIHF World Championship tournament and his home country, the Czech Republic, is hosting!

Down Goes Brown has some qualms over how the NHL’s awards are run. To me, it’s very boring to have to hear all these old fashioned writers get indignant over good teams getting upset in the first round. It happened, it’s not grounds to change the sport, get over it. As they say, there’s always next year. [The Athletic, paid content]

Given how voters typically treat the award, those finalists seem about right. It’s a bit of a surprise to see McDavid in the final three since his team didn’t make the playoffs, which seems to be a deal-breaker for many voters. But I had all three on my ballot, along with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Kane. So sure, Kucherov, Crosby and McDavid are worthy picks. But they have something else in common: None of them won a playoff round this year. In fact, none of them even won a game.

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch had their exit interviews today. Here’s a few of them in video form:

Taylor Raddysh

Brady Brassart

Dennis Yan

The Game

In game action last night, the Carolina Hurricanes took a commanding 3-0 lead in their series against the New York Islanders. Unlike the previous two games, the Canes dominated this game including a third period where they let the Isles generate almost no offense. Get the full recap at Canes Country.

With the game knotted up, the Hurricanes really needed a goal. Sebastian Aho rose to the occasion. Nino Niederreiter sent a cross-corner dump into the zone as the Foegele - Aho - Williams line was jumping on the ice, and Aho flew into the corner on the forecheck. Lehnercollected it behind his net and tried to send it around the boards to his defenseman. Aho made an incredible play to bat the puck out of the air and center it to the ever-so-clutch Justin Williams, who buried it to give the Canes a 3-2 lead with just under 10 minutes to play.

In the Western Conference, Dallas took a 2-1 lead in their series against the St. Louis Blues. With the Canes, Stars, and Blue Jackets all leading their second round series, the Avs are the only wild card team not in position to pull of another upset. Defending Big D has the recap from last night’s win.

The Dallas Stars needed to play “desperate” hockey after dropping Game 3 to the St. Louis Blues on home ice on Monday night.

That seems to be the favored word in this Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both coaches and players on either side have used that word to describe how they won or lost a game within the past 48 hours. As the series continues on, it’s likely to be uttered a lot more too. We would not recommend a drinking game based on that word, just FYI.

Tonight, the desperation quotient seemed to weigh out in Dallas’ favor. They utilized an offensive onslaught in the second period to open up a three-goal lead and a defensive effort in the past 20 minutes to finalize a 4-2 win and even the series.

Attorney General William Barr wasn’t the only person put on the stand in the middle of a highly controversial cover-up. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman faced a hearing regarding the concussion lawsuit facing the league. Some of his answers were less than impressive, and from the viewpoint of a fan, the work of the league’s concussion spotters and referees are definitely not up to snuff. Nevertheless, he defended those institutions.

Rick Westhead covered the story in a Twitter thread that you can read on his account. The links and insight he provides is definitely more valuable than whatever I just said above, so make sure to give his work the attention it deserves.

In actual hockey news, the Carolina Hurricanes have put the New York Islanders at the brink of elimination in three short games. Curtis McElhinney won his first career playoff start, and at 35+ years old, he’s the oldest goaltender to do so.

Suck it, Don Cherry.