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Lightning Round: Is Anthony Cirelli a Selke contender this season?

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The case might not be as clear this year.

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning regular season ends in a scant few weeks, and therefore it’s time to discuss whether Anthony Cirelli is as solid a contender for the Selke trophy as he was last year. More intelligent analysis will be done on Cirelli’s play as the season winds down, but here’s a look at some early buzz from ESPN:

We wish there were a way to get Anthony Cirelli of the Tampa Bay Lightning into this top three because he is having an incredible season. He tops Bergeron in defensive goals above average, with 3.3 to the Bruin’s 2.8, and their teams have identical 1.92 expected goals against per 60 when they’re on the ice at even strength. Cirelli is in the top 25 in takeaways (49). The Lightning have an incredible .943 save percentage when Cirelli is on the ice at 5-on-5, and they are a plus-25 in goals scored. We’ll allow that his 48.1 faceoff winning percentage is a bit underwhelming.

(ESPN also has Victor Hedman as a perennial contender for Norris, and Nikita Kucherov as a potential stealer of your Hart.)

Back in January, Puck Prose wrote a pretty good piece about Cirelli too, citing his Corsi For % as a viable reason for consideration for the trophy:

However, the often-overlooked stats are where Cirelli has shined. His takeaway to giveaway ratio is a lopsided 92 takeaways to 36 giveaways in his career. Cirelli has also never gone below a 52.6% CorsiFor percentage in the three separate seasons he has played, with a career CF% of 53.55%.

And almost exactly a year ago, Raw Charge began the campaign for anointing Cirelli to Selke-hood in his rookie season. Cirelli ended up 11th overall in Selke voting, but Loserpoints’ article painted a picture of a player that ticked all the statistical boxes of defensive play, even in his first full NHL year.

Even in the larger context of thirteen seasons, Cirelli shows as having an excellent year. Considering that he’s still a rookie, penalty killing seems to be an exceptional skill for him. If he can continue to improve over the next few years, he could get into the conversation with the best shorthanded forwards of the last ten years or so.

Is he as good this year as he was last year? We’ll have to wait and see.

Lest we forget:

The Bolts

Last night’s game ... happened. Check out our front page for the recap.

Mitchell Stephens had the lone goal for the Lightning while Andrei Vasilevskiy kept the team in the game by making 33 saves on 35 shots. The loss gives the Bruins a little bit of breathing room as their recent hot streak, coupled with Tampa Bay stalling a bit, has pushed the margin to nine points.

Slowly, we’re seeing the injured players return to the ice: Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh, Jan Rutta skate with the team [Tampa Bay Times, paid content]

The Lightning’s Ryan McDonagh and Jan Rutta returned to the ice Tuesday morning for the team’s optional morning skate ahead of the Boston game. “It’s part of the progression,” coach Jon Cooper said.

Speaking of trophies, Nikita Kucherov snuck into THW’s list of potential Hart finalists, too. [THW]

Adding to Kucherov’s resume this season is that few players have been as effective at five-a-side. Kucherov’s 1.3 goals, 1.8 assists and 3.1 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 rank 16th, 13th and third in the league, respectively. He continues to be one of the most effective scorers in the league and the focal point of one of the most dynamic attacks in the NHL.

Joe wrote a nice piece profiling Jeff Vinik on the 10th anniversary of his acquisition of the franchise. HOLY POOP he might have purchased the Stars instead of the Bolts. [The Athletic, paid content]

I looked at the demographics of the area. The biggest factor was I thought it was critical to move to the city where I bought the team, so you can become part of the fabric of the community.

I had a conversation with one team and visited there. The weather was a big factor. At the time, the last two choices were Dallas and Tampa Bay. Dallas was a great opportunity, but I also just didn’t see (myself) fitting in the city personality-wise with (Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban and (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones. I didn’t see myself being like them and being a Texan.

NEITHER COULD WE.

Drouin would have been onside with this tweak to the rule: NHL general managers recommend change to how offside rule is applied [NHL.com]

”When we met with our breakout group [Monday], the group thought that it was tough watching a game, especially with our skilled players, when we see a nice goal being scored and there’s a delay and there’s a challenge, and we’re taking down good hockey goals because the guy’s toe is slightly off the ice or he’s in a crossing over motion where the majority of his body is still in the neutral zone but his skate is not touching the ice,” NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Kris King said. “They felt a lot of times the guy that is offside isn’t even involved in the rush. They just felt the skate in the air really didn’t have a lot of bearing on any of these goals.”

And last but not least, Justing wrote up the current status of the Syracuse Crunch: Syracuse keeps pace in the race [Raw Charge]

Now, despite all of the success there isn’t room to celebrate. As you see in the standings below the Crunch are in the fourth spot in the North, but there are three teams within five points of them. Two of those teams have games in hand. So now is not the moment to bask in the glow of a victorious month, rather it’s time to redouble their effort to keep the momentum going.

This is one of the rougher years for the whole system, isn’t it? Maybe this is what it takes to push us all the way through.

And as you head on into your Wednesday, remember:

  • Don’t touch your face if you can help it.
  • Wash your hands.