It wasn’t that long ago that everything was perfectly fine. Well, not perfectly fine, but going pretty well. The Lightning had won a bunch of games, the power play was clicking right along, and a Stanley Cup defense was well on it’s way to being successful. Oh, how things can change in a day.
First off, there was the loss on the ice. An uninspiring, except for Brayden Point, lackadaisical, 5-2 defeat to the Florida Panthers where their neighbors to the south made them look like teams normally do against the Lightning - slow. Honestly, that’s the least troublesome thing that happened. The team was due for a clunker. It’s a long season and there are going to be nights where they are just off. Thursday was that night.
Good teams shake off losses pretty easily. They know what they did wrong and the Panthers won’t take them by surprise in their next game. That may be an advantage to their way the schedule is laid out, the immediate chance to rectify your mistakes from the first meeting. Expect the Lightning to come out with a little more gumption on Saturday when they meet up again.
Something that even good teams have issues with is injuries. Those are starting to pile up for the Lightning. First it was Mitchell Stephens a few weeks ago. Then, prior to last night’s game, it was announced that Steven Stamkos would miss the game with a lower-body injury and was labeled, much like all of us, as day-to-day. So, Tampa Bay entered the game without their number one right winger. Not great but, manageable.
Then, midway through the third period, all-around good-at-hockey center Anthony Cirelli was forced awkwardly into the boards. Coach Cooper didn’t sound optimistic about his prognosis after the game, “It didn’t look great when he came off the ice”.
So now they’re looking at probably at least one game without two of their top-six forwards. That should be fun. Their depth is going to be tested. They most likely will roll out an 11/7 line-up with Gemel Smith emerging from the taxi-squad life. There was some line blending going on throughout the game so it’s hard to say what the lines will look like on Saturday. Maybe Tyler Johnson stays on the top line. Maybe Yanni Gourde is the new number two center. Who knows, maybe they give Alex Volkov a chance to work his magic with Brayden Point.
However they line their players up in the near future the only solution is for the next player in line to step up. If it’s Smith, great. If it’s Volkov, fantastic. If it’s Point, (it’s going to be Point isn’t it?) cool. It just has to be somebody if they don’t want this season to go off the rails entirely. All this winning was getting repetitive, wasn’t it? There’s nothing like a little injury-drama and adversity mixed into the day-to-day life of following a hockey team, right?
Hardev had the honor of recapping last night’s game. It was good of him to stick through the whole thing. [Raw Charge]
Wennberg was right there to complete the pass if it ever got to him. Including the zone entry and Cernak getting beat wide, Verhaeghe just worked hard and was better at making plays than anyone on the Lightning without the puck. This goal was really representative of the game, in my opinion.
Some notes from the game:
- Point scored his 39th career power-play goal to move past Dave Andreychuk and into seventh place among Tampa Bay’s all-time power-play goal scorers.
- Victor Hedman (487 career points) moved within two points of tying Brad Richards for fifth place among Tampa Bay’s all-time scoring leaders.
- Tampa Bay lost for the first time in regulation when trailing first, dropping to 4-1-1.
Steven Stamkos wasn’t in the game. [Raw Charge]
It’s a big loss for the Lightning as Stamkos was off to one of the best starts in his career. In 11 games he has 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) with half of those points coming in the last 5 games. Four goals and two assists have come on the power play where he’s been the driving force on a unit that has slowly found its rhythm.
Anthony Duclair wasn’t in the line-up for the Panthers as he was added to the COVID list prior to the game. [CBS Sports]
The North Division had been doing pretty well dealing with COVID protocols (most likely due to the tighter restrictions in Canada), but Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi was added to the list and the Oilers/Canadiens game was pushed back a little to allow for the teams to learn the results of the tests taken that day. [Copper and Blue]
This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s tested positive. He could have, but he could just be a close contact of someone who tested positive, or apparently, he could have returned an inconclusive test
Due to the recent rash of cancelled games and positive tests the league has instituted some new health measures in hopes of getting things under control. [Fox5 Vegas]
To reduce the introduction of infection into the team environment, effective immediately, all players, coaches, training staff, equipment staff and other members of each club’s traveling party will be required to remain at home and not leave their place of residence except to attend practices and games, to exercise outdoors on an individual basis, to perform essential activities (e.g., go to the doctor), or to deal with family or other emergencies and other extraordinary circumstances.
The Boston Bruins had announced earlier in the season that they planned to retire Willie O’Ree’s number 22 on February 18th. With that date only a week away and still no fans in the building, they’ve decided to postpone the ceremony to January 18th, 2022. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]
After consultation with Willie and the Bruins, we have respectfully asked that the banner-raising be postponed until January 18, 2022 – 64 years to the date that Willie became the first Black player in NHL history.
If there are no juniors to scout, can the NHL have a draft? Probably. After all, picking which 18-year-old will end up as a productive member of a professional hockey team is a bit of a gamble anyway. Still, the league is exploring the possibility of postponing the 2021 draft and having back-to-back drafts in 2022, which may be the end of our good friend and prospect expert, Lauren. [TSN]
One of them is just maintaining status quo, host the draft in July no matter what the playing status is of this year’s draft-eligible players. Another one, push the draft to December, January, buy some time to scout players, but this is not a preferred option by the clubs. The preferred option as we suggested last week, is move the 2021 Draft scheduled for July into the summer of 2022 and host back-to-back drafts.
Speaking of Lauren Kelly, she recently spoke with Christina Picton, the current captain of Canadian national para ice hockey team. [Sportsnet]
As part of the National Para Hockey Development Team camp that capped off her 2018–19 season, Picton and then 16-year-old Raphaëlle Tousignant became the first two women to participate in Hockey Canada’s para hockey program, playing in a three-game series against the United States. Picton went pointless as Canada lost all three games to the Americans, but it was still a pivotal moment for women in the sport.