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Lightning Round: what is going on in Buffalo?

and the Crunch lose another forward.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Tampa Bay Lightning
Nov 25, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Cedric Paquette (13) celebrates as he scores a goal on Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton (40) during the third period at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils, the last place Buffalo Sabres announced that they were healthy scratching star winger Jeff Skinner for a third straight game. The Sabres have the league’s lowest goals for rate at 5v5 in the league, the only team scoring less than 1.5 goals per 60 minutes.

Minutes before puck drop, Jack Eichel, after having missed the morning and pregame skates, was announced as having a lower body injury. This seemed to catch both the people on the outside and inside by surprise.

Now I don’t know what’s going on here, but I sure as heck believe Ralph Krueger has some sort of vendetta against Jeff Skinner before I believe Jeff Skinner forgot how to play hockey. Either that, or this coach is stubborn and won’t adapt to the roster he has. Gee I wonder if that tactic ever worked?

GM Kevyn Adams is a rookie GM with a paper-thin resume when he got the job, in my opinion. He is apparently getting calls every day from both Skinner’s agent and Eichel’s agent, all while the coach refuses to play his $9 million 40-goal scorer at all, let alone with his $10 million superstar center.

Krueger has a contract for two more seasons after this reportedly at $3.9 million per. The Pegulas have been acting more like Eugene Melnyk than the billionaires they claim to be, and it sounds like they don’t want to pay another coach. Are they really going to burn this team to the ground for a coach that has alienated star players, lost the room, and/or failed to adapt a last-place system to improve a last-place team?

I just want to know if Krueger’s $7.8 million is going to cost more than Skinner’s buyout, or the record ticket losses coming when the team launches off the cliff into a fourth (or fifth) rebuild.

The reporters covering this have been clear, unless something happens, players are going to start requesting trades (again), and this time the list will include Eichel. How about another Ryan O’Reilly trade?

Lightning Links

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes to move into second place in the Central Division. The team is now one point behind Florida with a game in hand. Carolina is now two points back with the Lightning holding the game in hand. [Raw Charge]

“This game was a reminder. Not just to the fanbase, but to an aspiring team like Carolina. This is a championship Lightning team that knows how to win in multiple manners. They did it en route to the Stanley Cup, and they did it again tonight after being outplayed for the vast majority of the game.”

The Syracuse Crunch have lot yet another of their better forwards with Grigori Denisenko moving up to the Panthers taxi squad. The Crunch play their first game of the week on Saturday against Utica.

The Calgary Flames have begun to fall apart after a heartbreaking late loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, followed by a 6-1 blowout at the hands of the last-place Ottawa Senators. David Rittich, who I think took the Leafs loss pretty poorly, headbutted the wall after getting pulled after four goals.

The Senators have been a team that has caused chaos in opposing cities across Canada after they beat more highly-regarded teams. Expectations at the start of the season from fanbases in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary all had the Sens as an easy win every night. That was simply never going to be the case and yet people are still losing their minds.

(Translation: Carey Price is washed, and under contract at $10.5 million for six more years)

The Women’s World Championships might get the go-ahead for a May tournament in Nova Scotia, Canada. A lot of women’s IIHF tournaments have been cancelled due to the pandemic, while many men’s tournaments have found ways to go on. This tournament being back on the calendar is good to see.

Tom Wilson with another illegal hit. Erase the board, back to zero.