Monday was a pretty good day for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only did they take Game One of the Stanley Cup Final, prior to the match the NHL announced that the Bolts will finally get to play outside. Sadly, it won’t take place in the Tampa area, rather in Nashville. On February 26th, 2022 the two teams will meet at Nissan Stadium as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.
For the Predators it will be their second time playing outdoor hockey as they took on the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl back in 2020. The league also announced that the Minnesota Wild will host the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in the Winter Classic. Two outdoor games and nary a Penguin or Blackhawk to be seen. ESPN/Turner hasn’t even broadcast their first game yet and they’re already doing things a little different than NBC.
While they won’t be hosting the game, just being involved is pretty cool for the defending Stanley Cup champions. There will be features on the players, extracurricular activities around the game, and a darn good reason for fans to journey to Nashville for a weekend.
Of course, the number one reason to get excited for an outdoor game - new sweaters! That’s right, after paying off the debt you went into buying the Reverse Retro jersey this season, you can add yet another one to your collection. They can’t pass up another opportunity to bring back the Storm jersey, can they?
Erik Cernak got the offensive ball rolling while Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov did what they always do in the playoffs - record points. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 18 of 19 as he outdueled Carey Price in their first head-to-head meeting.
“Cooper winning the line matching battle at the moment”. Imagine going back in time and telling Lightning fans in 2018 that Coach Cooper was out-line-matching another coach.
Both sides of the ice have used their AHL affiliates to develop talent.
Some notes from our friends at the Lightning about last night’s games.
- The Bolts snapped a couple of O-fers with the win. In their previous three Game One’s in franchise history they were 0-3. They were also 0-3 in their first home games of series in this year’s postseason.
- Erik Cernak is the first player in franchise history to score his first career playoff game in a Stanley Cup Final game.
- Brayden Point has points in six straight Stanley Cup Final games dating back to last season’s series. He has 11 points (5 game, 6 assists) in those games.
- Nikita Kucherov also has points in six straight Stanley Cup Final games. Like Point he has 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in those games.
- Kucherov (7-23—30 pts. in 19 GP) became the fifth player in NHL history to register multiple 30-point playoff seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky (6x), Mark Messier (3x), Jari Kurri (2x) and Mario Lemieux (2x). Kucherov registered a NHL-best 7-27—34 pts in the 2020 Playoffs.
- Steven Stamkos now has a career-high in postseason goals with 8 and has tied his career high in points with 18 (8 goals, 10 assists).
Vegas will host the 2022 NHL All-Star game (dates to be determined). The theory is that the league wanted to have the game in the western part of the continent in order to make it easier for players to fly to the Olympics directly from the All-Star Game.
Gary Bettman indicated that NHL participation in the Beijing Olympics isn’t a done deal. “We have real concerns about whether or not it’s sensible to be participating.” The league has reportedly created two schedules for next season, one with Olympic participation and one without. Hopefully, they can work out a deal sometime soon.
- Helmet ads are here to stay. No sweater ads just yet, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility in the future.
- The Lightning did nothing wrong in regards to the LTIR. However, if the owners think there should be a salary cap in the playoffs, it’s something the league is open to discussing.
- Yes, the officials make mistakes, but so do coaches and players is an interesting way to support the refs.
Since Seattle’s AHL partners in Palm Springs won’t be ready to go next season, they will be housing their prospects in Charlotte along with the Panthers youngsters. It’ll be the second season in a row that Florida will be sharing an affiliation.
It was originally thought that NBC would broadcast the draft as one of the last events under their partnership with the league. Instead, NBC is going to peace out right after the Stanley Cup Final is over and ESPN will jump right into coverage with the Expansion Draft and NHL Draft. John Buccigross and Chris Fowler will host the coverage.
Head over to the Ice Garden for all of the coverage. Connecticut will draft number one overall after sending the second overall pick and the fourteenth pick to Boston.