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Lightning Round: Stamkos and Kucherov are back on the ice together at last

It’s allowed, find your own loopholes.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - SEPTEMBER 28: Nikita Kucherov #86 and Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate following the series-winning victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Six of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place on September 28, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning had their first postseason practice yesterday, ahead of Game 1 of their first round series against the Florida Panthers. At the practice were a couple of familiar faces in Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. A funny coincidence, yes, but let’s not pretend no one’s done it before. It’s in the rules, find your own loopholes.

It won’t all be smooth sailing as the two superstars have a lot of catching up to do after missing a lot of time with their injuries. Stamkos has been out for the last 18 games of the season, while Kucherov missed the whole regular season. Getting them into mid-season form to combat their opponents when they’ve only just started skating in practice will be difficult.

Since there’s no time to ease them in, the two were found back in their regular spots, to the right of Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli. The rest of the lineup looks on par with the Cup-winning team from eight months ago, especially the defense.

The only players missing from practice were Barclay Goodrow (upper-body injury), Marian Gaborik (Lightning Legend), and Anders Nilsson. And I guess Vinny Lecavalier since the team is still paying his buyout.

The Syracuse Crunch play their final game of the season tomorrow at 7pm, but before they could get that last game in, the Lightning called up five players. Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, Andreas Borgman, Cal Foote, and Spencer Martin will all at Lightning practice, but will miss the last game of the season. Hopefully they can be part of a long playoff run.

Lightning Links

Justin did a rundown of the Lightning’s first round schedule with the Florida Panthers. [Raw Charge]

“On Thursday, the NHL finally released the schedule for the first round and the Bolts/Cats get underway on Sunday. For both teams it will mean that they haven’t played competitively in almost a week as their last game of the regular season was on Monday. The rest should help both teams as key players on each side have missed recent games due to injuries.”

Here’s a full preview of the playoffs, including Justin’s predictions for the first round (as well as mine in the comments). [Raw Charge]

“Playoff time - the best time of year to be a hockey fan. As long as you’re a fan of one of the sixteen teams that made it to the second season. Unlike last summer/fall there will be no play-in rounds or bubbles. Teams will be playing in their home arenas, in front of fans (for the most part), and sleeping in their own beds for at least half of the games. Sadly, since there is no bubble hockey there is no all-day hockey extravagances either. Boo. I will miss 10:00 a.m.-till-10:00 p.m. MST hockey.”

Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche won the President’s Trophy last night.

Amazon will be trialing their “innovative” tracking stats during the playoffs using the player and puck tracking technology introduced this season in the NHL. I’ve seen AWS’s “analytics” in Formula 1 racing, and I’ll be honest, they’re not always the best. If they’re going to start giving save percentages based on glove/blocker/pad saves, I don’t expect it to go any better. Given the low samples in the playoffs, their results are going to be meaningless and will fail to hold up to any scrutiny. I’m sure the NHL is getting a big cheque, though.

Multiple men are suing USA Hockey, the University of Minnesota and Illinois amateur hockey’s state governing body (AHAI) over sexual abuse they say they suffered while playing for prominent Chicago-area youth hockey coach Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas.