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Lightning Round: Rings, Ratings, and Rookie Debuts

The Lightning are back home

NHL: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The top three teams in the Central Division are in action tonight as Tampa Bay takes on Dallas, Florida is in Chicago, and Carolina hosts Detroit. With a Panthers loss and a Lightning win, he Bolts can move up to the second spot (and home ice in the first round) in the division. It’s officially scoreboard watching season, folks!

Lightning Links:

Syracuse Crunch Preview

Get ready to see a lot of the Utica Comets this week. They start with a game against them tonight and then host them on Sunday. That game will mark the first of five meetings between the two teams over nine days. It’s like a playoff series without it being the playoffs!

Erik Cernak is showing growth

In his third season in the NHL, Cernak is emerging as an important part of the Lightning defense. We knew he was solid in his own end, but he’s been showing a surprising amount of skill in the offensive zone.

How the Lightning created the most elaborate ring of all time (subscription required)

“It was a very special moment for us,” said defenseman Victor Hedman, the Conn Smythe winner. “With the season going on, that was a good break for us to look back at what we accomplished six and a half months ago. To have the ring presented to us by our owner and their generosity, it’s out of this world.”

NHL News

The Vegas Golden Knights are atop the poll

The Lightning hung on to the number 4 spot in NHL.com’s latest rankings. They trail Vegas, Carolina, and Colorado.

Vegas also tops ESPN’s poll

ESPN flip-flops Carolina and Colorado, and the Lightning are also fourth in their ranking system. That’s fine. Tampa Bay feels like the fourth or fifth best team in the league right now. Alex Barre-Boulet is named as their “breakthrough” player which seems a bit premature. Personally I would have picked Cernak.

Quinton Byfield made his NHL debut Wednesday night

The second overall pick took to the ice for the Los Angeles Kings last night. He played almost 18 minutes and recorded four shots on net in the 3-2 loss. He was the fourth player from the first round of the 2020 draft to appear in a game following Alexis Lafreniere, Tim Stutzle and Jamie Drysdale.

Jonathan Drouin on Long Term Injured Reserve

31 Thoughts

Elliotte Friedman delves into the details of the Turner Sports/NHL deal. It seems that NBC wasn’t ready to overpay for a smaller portion of the TV rights deal.