Sure, there will be no Nikita Kucherov in the game tonight, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are unfortunately a little too used to that in the regular season. It does look like they will get a couple of guys back that have been out for the last few games. Both Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta took regular rushes during practice on Wednesday, as well as some time on the special teams units. That’s usually a good indication that they are ready to return to the line-up.
Palat was back on the top line with Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli while Rutta was paired with Fredrik Claesson (the Victor Hedman/ Cal Foote pairing may last for another game). According to NHL.com’s Bryan Burns here were the lines:
#Bolts lines and D-pairings from practice:— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) January 26, 2022
As always these combinations are subject to change, but the bottom-six are probably set. Corey Perry was reunited with his School Bus linemates last game and they went back to their usual above-average production. With Kucherov out, Boris Katchouk stays in the line-up for a couple of more games. If history is any indication, Coach Cooper will rotate out Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh, and Ross Colton once his All-World winger is back on the ice.
It seems that the other two injured players - Erik Crenak and Zach Bogosian will be out a little longer.
Lightning / NHL News
Steven Stamkos All-Star. A nice retrospective of The Captain’s appearances in the mid-season classic. Long-hair Stamkos is the best Stamkos.
Ahhh Gasparilla. Tampa’s annual excuse to start drinking at 8;00 AM on a random Saturday is happening this weekend. If you have a few too many plastic beads after the party, don’t throw them in the trash, bring them to Amalie Arena and recycle them. Save a turtle!
In short, JBB won’t have to work a miracle to bring in defensive depth if Foote keeps playing like he has recently.
Aaron Dell suspended for three games [Department of Player Safety]
Despite not being penalized during the game, Dell was punished by the league for his needless hit on Drake Batherson in the game. Batherson sustained an ankle injury and will miss the All-Star game. Just an all around stupid hit by Dell.
Should goalies be able to take the body [Daily Face Off]
Former Lightning goaltender Mike McKenna penned a column about the Dell hit. He’s not a fan of the hit or Dell’s explanation that he was just trying to “buy his defenseman some time”. McKenna then touches on a larger discussion regarding goaltenders ability to throw checks in general.
Penguins extend Jeff Carter for two years [Pensburgh]
The 37-year-old center will be in the black and gold for another two seasons (at a cap hit of $3.125 million per). While it’s a slight decrease from his current $5.272 per season, it is going to cost the Penguins a little more since Los Angeles is picking up 50% of his current contract.
Flyer retooling not rebuilding [Broad Street Hockey]
General Manager Chuck Fletcher and Flyers Governor Dave Scott spoke with the media yesterday about the Flyers mixed-up, unfortunate, not-so-great season. Don’t worry Flyers fans they don’t want to totally blow things up totally, they just want to “aggressively retool”. Based on many years of sports fandoms retools tend to just delay the rebuild, but good luck with that, Philly! Also, they should be able to pull at least one first round pick from Colorado when they trade Gritty’s best friend, Claude Giroux, to the Avalanche.
Reverse Retro jerseys reportedly coming back next year [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
While it was a shame that the Lightning’s sweet throwbacks were only around for a few games last season, if they don’t take this chance to properly honor the Storm jersey (aka the greatest sweater in the history of sports) then we’re going to have issues.
Your moment of hockey zen from last night - Johnny Gaudreau