How nice was it go a week without having back-to-back games? I’m all for as much hockey as possible, but those games rarely bring out the best in anyone. The Tampa Bay Lightning played three times last week and took points from all three of them as they went 2-0-1 against the Ottawa Senators (4-3 win), Carolina Hurricanes (4-2 shootout loss), and Buffalo Sabres (5-3 win).
The points helped them move up to second in the Atlantic Division, just five points behind the Boston Bruins (who did not have a great week). For the first time all season the Lightning moved into the green in goal differential as they are now +2 on the season. Things aren’t perfect, but they are getting better.
So, lets take a look at the best players of the week for the Bolts.
Third Star: Brandon Hagel (1 goal, 3 assists)
It took some time, but it looks like he is adapting to not only the Lightning’s style of play, but also the pace he has to play at when on a line with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Hagel is up to 10 points on the season now, eclipsing the total of 7 he put up in 22 regular season games with the Lightning last season.
Second Star: Mikhail Sergachev (1 goal, 2 assists, 26:24 ice time)
There was going to be enough pressure on Sergy with the departure of Ryan McDonagh in the offseason. Last week, things ramped up a little more as he had to step in the number one role with Victor Hedman nursing a minor injury. The results were pretty good. He led the club in ice time and was productive in all three areas of the game (even strength, power play, and penalty kill).
First Star: Nikita Kucherov (3 goals, 5 assists)
Was there any doubt as to who would be on top? Kuch had two multi-point games and and also logged more than 22 minutes in two of the three games. He picked up five of his points at even strength as he spearheaded what might be the top line in hockey right now. Not only is the offense kicking, he was only on the ice for one goal against at 5v5. Did he lead the team in giveaways? Of course he did, but he was second in takeaways (an underrated part of his game).
How about a play that featured all three stars doing something positive?
1 - Hagel disrupts the play behind the net
2- Sergachev with the perfect cross-ice pass
3 - Kucherov with the finish
Lightning / NHL News
Rookie Nick Perbix impressing with his poise [Tampa Bay Times]
It seems Perbix is hell-bent on being the next Erik Cernak. A rookie called up that is not giving the Tampa Bay Lightning an excuse to send him back to Syracuse. We’ll have more on the possible effects of his play on the roster later today.
The Backcheck: Third period comeback [NHL.com]
Chris Krenn’s look at the game on Saturday night, with quotes from Coach Cooper, Nick Perbix, and Brandon Hagel.
Good question!— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) November 6, 2022
There have been 14 different players in #Bolts history whose first NHL goal was also the game-winning goal: Colton, Sergachev, Kucherov, Palat, Panik, Ritola, Ranger, Alexeev, Kudroc, Sarich, Langkow, Cross, Osborne and Drulia. https://t.co/6sudPdCaEs
Kings loan Quinton Byfield to Ontario [NHL.com]
The former number two pick overall has missed the last six Los Angeles Kings games with an illness. It’s been a slow start to the big center’s career as he has battled injuries ever since being drafted. He did have 3 assists in the 8 games he played for the Kings this season and should be back with them after a short conditioning stint.
Tkachuk’s “it was an accident” defense didn’t work as the Florida Panthers forward was suspended for two games after he jabbed Jonathan Quick in the mask with his stick in their game against the Los Angeles Kings late Saturday night. Don’t do that. It’s going to cost him $102,702.70 in salary.
Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk has been suspended for two games for High-sticking Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick. https://t.co/kevNiE1CCF— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 6, 2022
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltending situation is...not great [Pension Plan Puppets]
Ilya Samsonov had been playing pretty well for the Leafs in lieu of an injury to Matt Murray. Now it’s Samsonov heading to Injured Reserve with a lower-body injury. Erik Kallgren will likely carry the load until Murray is healthy, which could be sooner than expected. Meanwhile Toronto signed Keith Petruzzelli to a contract to be the back-up. Good times.
Calder Chasing: Seven rookies thriving early [Daily Face-Off]
There are no Lightning players on this list (not surprising) but they have faced a couple of these players over the last few games. Shane Pinto (Ottawa Senators) and JJ Peterka (Buffalo Sabres) are making a name for themselves early in the year.