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Lightning Round: 2020-21 regular season starts for the Syracuse Crunch tonight

The Lightning defeated the Red Wings on a Reverse Retro night

AHL: JAN 22 Syracuse Crunch at Laval Rocket Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After almost a full year since the AHL 2019-20 regular season cancellation, the AHL is coming back with a new 2020-21 regular season. The first five games were played yesterday, with six more games scheduled for tonight, including the opening game for the Syracuse Crunch against the Utica Comets.

Our writer Hardev, who has become the primary reporter of the Syracuse Crunch starting this season, did a great job previewing the season for our site [Raw Charge]

What you’ll be getting from me are regular previews and recaps as the team traverses through a 32-game schedule. Of course, there will be articles on transactions and breaking news. I’m hoping there will be little related to COVID, but with the way every other league is suffering right now, the odds aren’t great.

Yesterday the Crunch announced a roster for the opening game: the lineup is mostly filled with the Tampa Bay Lightning prospects (including a surprising one, Maxim Cajkovic, who hasn’t attended a training camp) and some Florida Panthers prospects – both teams are sharing the AHL affiliate in Syracuse this season.

If you’re also not familiar with all the names on the roster, Hardev did a breakdown of the roster, once the training camps opened [Raw Charge]

While the chances aren’t high for a WHL and OHL season, I expect them to make something happen and the five players who will have to be loaned there will. There’s probably about four players in the Solar Bear group that will go back to that team after camp. It’s a big roster that will likely end up being something around 26-31 players, but it’s somewhat necessary considering the high risk of COVID-19 cases cutting rosters down as the season goes on. The current lack of depth in net is the most concerning part of the roster.

Yesterday the Florida Panthers also added forward Aleksi Heponiemi to Syracuse. The Finnish forward has already played in the three NHL games, recording one goal.

The Crunch head coach Ben Groulx have shared his thought on the roster for this season.

If you need a little bit different perspective of this year’s Syracuse Crunch, check out a preview by our former Syracuse writer – Alexandra Ackerman [The Sin Bin]

However, if I really think about it, I can acknowledge that remembering last season with such despair is probably more a symptom of what the entirety of 2020 turned out to be and not what the Crunch’s 2019-20 season actually was. After all, Syracuse was on the brink of a playoff spot when the season was cut short in March of 2020. The team was finally starting to gather some of the consistency it had been missing for a good chunk of their season. Sure, the goaltending was still kind of wonky, and, sure, the defense never quite got it together, but things were looking up.

Lightning Links

The Tampa Bay Lightning won their second game against the Detroit Red Wings. This time the Lightning’s offense wasn't as dangerous as in the previous game and needed help from bottom lines [Raw Charge]

The Red Wings were much better in all facets of the game, had the lead for a few minutes in the first period thanks to a goal from a former Bolt, and pushed the Lightning all night long. In the end, they just didn’t have enough depth scoring to outlast Tampa Bay.

The goaltender match-up was the same as last game with Thomas Griess taking the net for Detroit and Andrei Vasilevskiy between the pipes for the Lightning. Greiss was trying to be the first goaltender not named Jonathan Bernier to win a game for Detroit since October 29th, 2019 (Jimmy Howard).

The Lightning extended their ridiculous home winning streak against the Red Wings to 16 games.

It was a Reverse Retro night for the Lightning, while we are all obviously disappointed that the team didn’t choose the Storm Jerseys for this series, aren’t those just as beautiful?

The team have also showed their support for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The Orlando Solar Bears defeated the Florida Everblades thanks to Tristin Langan shootout goal.

Hockey News

The Florida Panthers won a game against the Nashville Predators last night and remain the only unbeaten team in regulation in the whole league. Old friend Carter Verhaeghe scored one goal and one assist.

The Caroline Hurricanes hired their former captain Justin Williams as the Special Advisor to the General Manager.

Jerome Iginla, another player who retired not so long ago, has been hired as a coach of minor hockey team in Kelowna, B.C.

The WHL’s U.S. Division will open the 2020-21 Regular Season on Friday, March 19.