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Lightning Round: The NHL announces game times for the qualifying rounds

Who is ready for some afternoon hockey?

2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game - Atlantic Division v Pacific Division Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

In somewhat surprising news, the NHL released not only the schedule for the exhibition games for the 24 teams competing in the postseason, but also the times of games for the qualifying and round robin games that constitute the first round of action.

For the exhibition game the Tampa Bay Lightning will face off against a familial foe:

Nothing says get ready for the playoffs like a noon game on a July. Whelp, this is the new normal in the NHL so we may as well roll with it. It is kind of interesting that the NHL schedule makers pretty much tried to match up as many rivalries as possible in these exhibition games. It’s most likely a not-so-subtle attempt at generating interest in games that will probably be played with a preseason-like intensity.

It will also get people used to turning their TVs on at an odd time, which is something that’s going to be happening a lot of in the month of August. Fans of teams in the playoffs also found out what time the first three games of each series will take place. []

The Lightning’s first two round robin games will both be played at 4:00pm (August 3rd against the Caps and August 5th against the Bruins). The time of their final game (against the Flyers) has yet to be announced. The league might be waiting to see if any of the series end in sweeps before announcing the remaining times.

As for the other games being played, it’s no surprise that Pittsburgh/Montreal dominate the 8:00pm est time slot as the league wants to showcase Sidney Crosby during prime time. The Rangers and the Leafs see their series slotted in prime time on the Pittsburgh off days. With the league trying to pull in as many viewers as they can, it’s not shocking that the more popular teams are being shown in those time slots.

News and Notes

It’s awards finalists week in the NHL and on Monday the league announced the three finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award. Nikita Kucherov will not be in the running to defend the award he won in 2019. Nor will Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin, or Sidney Crosby be vying to add to their multiple titles. Instead, the three players that the NHLPA voted as the best in the league this year are: Nathan MacKinnon, Leon Draisaitl, and Artemi Panarin. What’s David Pastrnak gotta do to get some love in this league? [NBC Sports]

Speaking of love, what would you do if you were sequestrated in a hotel and pursuing the Stanley Cup while your wife was scheduled to give birth? For Lars Eller of the Capitals and Carl Hagelin of the Penguins this isn’t a hypothetical question. Bother players could be faced with the need to leave the bubble in order to be their to see the birth of their children. [The Washington Post]

After learning on Monday that goaltender Corey Crawford was “unfit to play” the Chicago Blackhawks were short another player as defenseman Calvin de Haan did not practice for the second straight day due to a “family emergency”. [Second City Hockey]

Not too many players get to sign extensions to their contracts without ever having put on their uniform, but goaltender Ilya Sorokin did just that. The ink was barely dry on the one-year deal he signed with the Islanders that covered this season when it was announced that the two parties had agreed to an one-year extension that covers 2020-21. [Lighthouse Hockey]

The Lightning

Matt was back at practice for day two of the Lightning’s training camp and provided the details of some of the drills that the players were working on. All 33 players were on the ice at some point with Steven Stamkos working out alone for the second consecutive day. [Raw Charge]

Jon Cooper summed up the second day of practice. (With a Matthew Esteves cameo at 1:41). He speaks about ramping up the pace of practice, finding ways to get players used to contact, the role of the taxi squad, and other things. [Tampa Bay Lightning]

From Monday’s practice - Blake Coleman showed a pretty nifty set of hands

It looks like there will be no Smashfest this summer. The Dominic Moore-led, table tennis tournament usually brings hockey players together for a fun night of competition and to raise money for charity. With COVID-19 preventing large gatherings and hockey’s odd schedule they’ve decided to raise money in a different way - custom designed tables. Former Bolt chats with Victor Hedman about golf at midnight, building patios, and other stuff. Yes, Harry Hedman makes an appearance. [YouTube]

The moment Hedman sees the final product (painted by street artist Alex Bacon):

We’re one day closer to the bubble, folks. Keep washing your hands and wearing your masks.