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Lightning Round: Is Alexander Volkov finding his stride in the NHL?

The rookie has scored three times in his last two games

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s taken a little longer than some had hoped for, but it looks like Alexander Volkov may be unlocking the potential that made him a second round pick for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not all prospects jump into the league and immediately start producing like they’re Anthony Cirelli. Some need a little extra time and the right circumstances to find their game.

The coaching staff has been praising his play all season long, even when the results weren’t there. They liked how he was playing in the corners, using his body more, and playing the physical game that Coach Cooper expects out of his bottom-six forwards. In the last two games, the hard work has yielded some rewards in the form of goals.

The Lightning prize process over results, believing that a player shouldn’t be focused on scoring goals, rather that, if they focus on doing things the correct way, the goals will follow. That can be frustrating for fans to watch (“Why is he playing if he’s not scoring goals!”) and for the players themselves, after all, scoring goals is really fun (and lucrative). It can be disheartening banging around in the corners night after night without seeing the rewards for hard play.

So, give Volkov credit for not getting down and cheating to try and generate offense. He’s still not a finished product, either. There are parts of his game that need some work. On the whole, he’s still underwater in regards to possession at 5v5, with only 42% of the shot attempts coming for the Lightning while he’s on the ice. He’s also on the wrong side of scoring chances (43%). However, when the chances become dangerous, he’s on the right side with 61% of those. Also, he’s only been on the ice for two even-strength goals against, both of them in one game against Chicago.

During his three seasons in Syracuse, consistency has always been an issue for him. He’d dominate play for three or four games and then disappear for two or three. His goals come in bunches. Volkov would go six games without a goal and then score four in two games. then another four games without finding the net before recording three in four nights.

The first goal he scored on Monday night showcases the talent lying underneath his reserved nature.

He isn’t known as the fastest skater on the team, but he is fast enough with the puck on his stick to get to a prime shooting spot despite being chased by three Panthers. Then he unleashes a heavy shot off of the rush. That was a quick snapshot that caught Chris Driedger a little by surprise by how fast it was upon him.

While it’s not quite time to engrave his name on the Calder Trophy just yet, it’s also nice that it’s also not time to add him to the list of busts either.

Lightning Links:

Joe Smith penned a nice article for The Athletic (subscription required) in regards to the Lightning finances throughout the pandemic. Are some of the ideas that teams have come up with for supplemental revenue this season here to stay forever? Probably. [The Athletic]

But [Lightning CEO Steve] Griggs feels like the helmet decals, virtual dashers and others will potentially be more than a one-year experiment as teams try to grow revenue. He said the Lightning are fortunate that only a few sponsors decided to pause their partnerships with the club.

It wasn’t a great week for the Syracuse Crunch. While the offense is fine, there are questions on the defense. [Raw Charge]

A few times each period across all three games this season I’ve seen either defensemen or wingers make a soft, careless pass, or be wholly unable to find an outlet, causing the puck to get turned over and the Crunch to be stuck in their own zone for a shift. This is hardly unique in the AHL, this is where young players unlearn tendencies like this, but the Crunch already don’t have a roster full of great puck-moving skaters so every time they get pushed deeper into their own zone, the more likely chances against will come within the next minute or so.

The Lightning lost for the second time in three games to the Florida Panthers. There were moments where they looked like the Bolts we’ve seen over the past year, but they weren’t able to sustain that type of play long enough to win the game. [Raw Charge]

Plainly put, Tampa Bay wasn’t good enough this evening. They didn’t get back to their style of play until they were already trailing by three goals, and by that point, it was too late. However, there were positives from this game, mainly Volkov becoming more of an impact player and [Tyler] Johnson finding a groove, but the Lightning defense (and [Curtis] McElhinney) weren’t good enough this evening.

Things were a little more positive when looked at from the Panthers’ side. Anthony Duclair scored his first goal of the season for Florida as their top line had a pretty good night. It was a fun game to watch. [Miami Herald]

“Kind of wild,” said Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman, who closed scoring with his wrist shot a minute into the third period. “Definitely one for the fans. Every shift [during the second period], there was a good chance or a goal.”

Some notes from our friends at the Lightning:

  • The loss was the first of the season at home for the Tampa Bay Lightning
  • It also snapped an eight-game winning streak at home against the Panthers.
  • The six goals allowed were a season high.
  • Mathieu Joseph has points in three of the last four games (3 goals, 2 assists).
  • With his assist on Tyler Johnson’s goal Mikhail Sergachev now has 117 career points, good for 32nd all-time in franchise history. #MikhailMilestones

Hockey Links

Alex Galchenyuk is racking up NHL jerseys like a modern-day Mike Sillinger. Galchenyuk was traded for the second time in three days. It looks like he’ll be staying in Canada as the Carolina Hurricanes traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky. This comes just days after he was traded to the Hurricanes with Cedric Paquette for Ryan Dzingel. [Pension Plan Puppets]

Galchenyuk has increasingly struggled in the last couple of years, however, failing to latch on in Pittsburgh, then having a promising stretch in Minnesota cut short by the pandemic. He signed as a reclamation with the Senators, but he was gone a month into the season, and now Toronto is his fourth organization in about a year.

The Dallas Stars game was postponed on Monday. No it wasn’t because of COVID. The postponement was because of the unseasonably frigid weather rolling through Texas this week (thanks, polar vortex!). American Airlines Arena shares the power grid with critical infrastructure such as hospitals. With planned rolling blackouts throughout the city designed to ease the load on the power grid, it was determined that playing a hockey game wasn’t an essential use of power. [Defending Big D]

North Texas has been hit with some of the coldest temperatures ever experienced in the area, with windchills hitting negative double-digits earlier today. Late last night, the power grid reached a critical point and rolling power outages were enacted to help save an overworked infrastructure.