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Lightning Round: Nikita Kucherov in COVID protocol

He’ll likely miss the next two games

2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game - Atlantic vs. Metropolitan Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

First, the good news - Ondrej Palat will likely be back in the line-up tomorrow. The bad news - his linemate, Nikita Kucherov, likely won’t. On Tuesday it was announced that the Tampa Bay Lightning winger had entered COVID protocols. Even with the reduced quarantine time for non-symptomatic players Kucherov will still likely miss the team’s next two games. On Thursday they face the New Jersey Devils and then on Saturday, the Vegas Golden Knights.

So, for at least two more games the Lightning still won’t have iced their full line-up. Who knows, maybe next week.

If Palat is healthy, there likely isn’t going to be any corresponding roster moves. However, if he can’t make it, the Lightning are going to have to call someone up from Syracuse. Could that someone be Alex Barre-Boulet? It would seem to make sense as the young playmaker could slide right into the top line for a game or two. Since heading down to Syracuse Barre-Boulet has posted 16 points (3 goals, 13 assists) in 14 games and has looked like the assertive player that dominated the AHL in the previous two seasons.

Kucherov becomes the 10th Lightning player to enter the protocols this season so it’s not like they haven’t dealt with this before. Coach Cooper echoed those sentiments in his media comments yesterday:

“We’ve gone through this. All the other teams have gone through it. Hopefully it’s not something that starts taking guys down again. We’ve just got to move on and know that this is probably not over yet.”

If he is asymptomatic, he could be back in time for the February 1st game against the San Jose Sharks and then the team has a bit of a break, not playing again until February 10th. By that time the NHL’s new testing policy will be in effect. Following a single test for re-entry after the All-Star break, asymptomatic players won’t be tested unless they’re heading across the border to Canada (which the Lightning don’t do until March).

The hope is that this is just an isolated case and not another minor outbreak like they had at the end of December.

Lightning / NHL News

Brian Elliott continues to play well despite gaps in playing time [Tampa Bay Times]

All teams want out of their backups is a chance to win the game. Elliott has provided the Lightning with that this year. It hasn’t always been pretty but they’ve picked up points in six of his eight starts. That’s not too shabby.

Amir Miftakhov re-assigned to Syracuse [Syracuse Crunch]

The Crunch bolstered their goaltender depth by recalling 2022 Evan Oberg Nominee Amir Miftakhov from Orlando and signing Corbin Kaczperski from the Iowa Heartlanders to a PTO. Syracuse takes on the Cleveland Monsters later today.

32 Thoughts: A Lesson to learn [Sportsnet]

Elliotte Friedman tosses out some names that could be moved at the trade deadline. Old friend JT Miller could be on the move.

Keith Yandle sets ironman record [ESPN]

Yandle played in his 965th consecutive game (and seemingly the Flyers 965th consecutive loss) passing Doug Jarvis for the NHL record. Yandle’s string of consecutive games began back in March of 2009 and he’s played for four different organizations during the run. The Flyers lost (their 13th consecutive loss) 4-3 to the New York Islanders.

Patrick Allvin will be named the 12th General Manager in Canucks history [Nucks Misconduct]

Lightning Director of Hockey Operations Mathieu Darche was reportedly one of the five finalists for the open GM position in Vancouver, but it looks like they will instead hire Patrick Allvin, who had been an Assistant GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins when Jim Rutherford (current President and Interim GM of the Canucks) was there.

2022 NHL Trade Deadline: Ranking 20 players to target [Yahoo Sports]

A quick scan of the list (and cap hits) rules out a lot of the players, but Julien BriseBois has been known to figure out ways around pesky things like a salary cap. As for actual help on the ice, a couple players may slot in for forward depth - Lawson Crouse? Calle Jarnkrok?

Lets finish things off with a little moment of zen. Old friend Brian Boyle with a nifty little goal: