Tampa Bay Lightning news
Yesterday I admit I spent most of my day avoiding the Columbus-Tampa Bay Lightning narratives, but there was one interesting piece to pull out of the mess. From The Athletic (paid content), Joe wrote that the Columbus playoff sw**p had a few positive impacts on the team:
The mantra from day one of training camp was to blend their high-skill with less high-risk, creating habits where they’re more responsible and committed defensively.
The focus was in a few areas:
- Reduce the number of quality scoring chances against by better protecting the middle of the ice in the defensive zone
- Reduce turnovers
- Cut down penalties
Last night the Tampa Bay Lightning played a remarkably even game in front of backup Curtis McElhinney, matching the Blue Jackets nearly shot for shot until finally winning in overtime by a score of 2-1, effectively putting to rest these super annoying narratives until the next time they meet this season. You can read more about it in last night’s Quick Cap.
(Drinking game suggestion: a sip of beer for each recap that alludes to “exorcizing demons” or “putting the past to rest.”)
(I hope all the Columbus fans that brought brooms to this game had to sadly carry them home on public transit.)
The Lightning are once again being given the edge in betting odds for winning the Stanley Cup. I’d really, really like this to stop, because being the underdog is a much better competitive position to be in than being the overdog:
Last week, Andrei Vasilevskiy earned Third Star of the Week for going 3-0-0. [NHL.com]
[Vasilevskiy] aims to become the second Lightning goaltender to record three consecutive 30-win seasons. His active 18-game point streak (16-0-2 dating to Dec. 17) is one of 16 in NHL history of at least that length - and the second-longest by any active goaltender.
Yesterday, Alan explored why Yanni Gourde’s goal drought is exactly as epic as it seems. [Raw Charge]
Folks, it’s almost time to call a priest. If you can’t see Gourde’s line, it’s almost directly on the separator between “Not funny anymore” and “Call a Priest.” And if he goes another game without scoring, he’ll almost certainly cross over that six standard deviation line. As of now, he’s already in extreme drought territory. This current stretch ranks 62nd in the data set meaning only 61 times in the last 13 years has an NHL player had a more frustrating run of goalless hockey.
And Trace continues to keep track of the not-doing-very-well Solar Bears. [Raw Charge]
To finish off another busy week, the Solar Bears hosted the Everblades. In honor of National Pizza Day, the team held a Pizza Party Palooza, complete with pepperoni pizza jerseys!
Other NHL News
We got our first big trade of February a couple weeks ahead of the trade deadline last night. The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired forward Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Alex Galchenyuk, a first round pick, and defensive prospect Cole Addison.
Zucker is one of the most underrated players in the NHL consistently landing among the leaders in WAR despite minimal attention. Trading undervalued players is never a good idea because it guarantees an underwhelming return but the Wild seemed determined to trade Zucker for whatever reason and so if we accept the premise that a deal had to be done, they did fairly well here. Addison is a legit prospect and even late first round picks offer value. Galchenyuk is basically a salary dump to make the deal work financially and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Zucker is a unique case because not only is he a great player, but he still has three years left on his contract after this one at a reasonable price. That makes him more valuable than a typical trade deadline acquisition and thus forced Pittsburgh to pay a little more to land him. For the Lightning, this might put a little pressure on them to improve their roster. The Pens are now just as stacked at forward as the Bolts. So if Julien BriseBois and the rest of the front office were considering someone like Chris Kreider, this move by a conference rival may push them a little closer to making the deal.
A few days ago, the Boston Globe reported that Coronavirus has impacted the ability of Chinese plants to ship special-order hockey products, especially sticks, back to professional hockey teams in the west. After learning from the Globe that 75% of hockey stick manufacturing happens in China, I thought I’d go see what other hockey equipment is made there. The answer is, 2,337 different hockey products are created by Chinese manufacturers, so that the hockey equipment shortage might not end with sticks.
Bauer mentioned to the Globe that there are enough retail hockey sticks to last through the season, but that the custom orders from NHL players are definitely impacted. Per the Globe:
The highly customized sticks used by some 75 percent of the NHL are made in small batches at Chinese factories. With work and travel halted since late January as the country combats an outbreak of coronavirus, the NHL has been unable to get fresh stock in the middle of its season.
Hockey sticks are the least of China’s worries right now, but the shortage does point to the fact that the world is an interconnected system, and the needs of people far away will cause a ripple that ends up at our front door. China is taking the Coronavirus outbreak extremely seriously, and many other sporting events, including qualifying events for the Olympics, are being moved or canceled.
Meanwhile, the stick manufacturer that is not directly impacted by health issues is Warrior, which manufactures in Mexico.