With the way the season started for the Tampa Bay Lightning (and the hot start by the Florida Panthers) it seemed like winning the division might have been a tall task for the Bolts this season. Now, as they head into Toronto they are just two points behind the division-leading Maple Leafs and Panthers. A win on Thursday will make things awful close.
This is why Coach Cooper stressed the importance of picking up points early in the season. While the main focus of the team isn’t to win the Atlantic Division, they want to at least keep pace with the top of the pack (and create some separation with the other teams in the division). Right now they are in third place, two points behind the leaders, but seven points up on the fourth place Detroit Red Wings. Wait, what? Let me check that again. Yup, it’s the Red Wings.
The Leafs, even with their roster shortages, will be a good test for the Bolts. Both teams are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, but Toronto will be the best team they’ve played since the 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The recent spate of slow starts is something the Lightning will have to avoid, because unlike the Flyers or Canadiens, the Leafs will make them pay on the scoreboard if there is too much time spent in the Tampa Bay zone.
It’s been a pretty successful road trip so far as they’ve started out 3-0. Another win and things will be looking pretty good.
Lightning / NHL News
Lightning claim Riley Nash [Raw Charge]
We don’t know how long Mr. Nash will be with the Lightning, but for now he does provide some defensive depth for a pretty thin forward corps. There is still at least a month to go before Nikita Kucherov or Brayden Point return, so the Bolts can use all the help they can get (and he’s cheap).
Two third period goals give Lightning the victory [Raw Charge]
It wasn’t the most consistent win of the season, but it’s still a win and the Lightning will take the two points. Good on the guys for not deviating from their game plan and grinding out the victory.
Team Tank Rolls on [Eyes on the Prize]
It was an emotional ride from the Montreal side of things.
Solar Bears Den: First Place Split [Raw Charge]
Tracey catches up with the Lightning’s ECHL affiliate, now with more actual Lightning prospects! After this story went to press, the organization announced that Hugo Alnefelt has been assigned to Orlando. The young netminder should get plenty of ice time with the Solar Bears.
“He would lay on the ice and do snow angels,” Elena [Boris Katchouk’s mother] said.
If Kathouk scores a game-winner in the playoffs I demand he celebrate with a snow angel. It’s a nice look at the history of how Katchouk and Raddysh have grown up together in the sport.
Jason Spezza suspended six games [Department of Player Safety]
The veteran won’t be in the line-up when the Bolts head into Toronto later this week. He was suspended for six games following his knee to the head of Neal Pionk. They will also be without Mitch Marner and Rasmus Sandin, both of whom were placed on injured reserve.
Jujhar Khaira responsive after hit [Sportsnet]
The Chicago forward took a big hit that left him motionless on the ice in a game against the New York Rangers. Jacob Trouba drilled him just inside the Chicago blueline and Khaira went down to the ice and didn’t move. He had to be stretchered off the ice. Later in the evening the team released an announcement stating that he was “very responsive” but was staying in the hospital for further evaluation.
Goal of the year? Yes, goal of the year.