The Tampa Bay Lightning take on the San Jose Sharks tonight. After that, it’s a nice little breather for most of the team. Steven Stamkos, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Victor Hedman will head to Las Vegas for All-Star Weekend while the rest of the team disperses for a little rest and relaxation. When they all get back together for their next game, February 10th in Colorado, how different will line-up look?
Hopefully, everyone will be back, By everyone we mean Nikita Kucherov (COVID protocol), Erik Cernak (lower body injury), and Zach Bogosian (lower body). So, what does that mean for the line-up? There is no doubt that Kucherov and Cernak haven’t lost their spots due to their injuries. Kuch will go right back to the top line while Cernak will slot in with Ryan McDonagh on the second line.
The return of Cernak will most likely mean Fredrik Claesson will be on the way back to Syracuse. There is a little more doubt in Bogosian’s case. Cal Foote has been pretty good over the last few games. He’s played with a little more aggression and confidence - being paired with Victor Hedman seems to have brought out some of the best aspects of his game.
Chances are Coach Cooper will rotate the two in and out of the line-up. He seems to enjoy having a little more experience on the blueline when he has the choice, so it’s likely Bogosian will get the lion’s share of starts when he’s healthy. There are plenty of games left for Foote to see some action, and with the way this season has gone, chances are he’ll be filling in for at least one more injured player along the way.
Up front, Kucherov’s insertion in the line-up basically bumps everyone back down a line. Anthony Cirelli will be back on the second line and Mathieu Joseph onto the fourth line. There is really no reason or justification to tinker with the Patrick Maroon, Pierre Edouard Bellemare, Corey Perry line so it’s the Kid Line that will be affected the most.
Based on previous roster decisions, Boris Katchouk is probably the most likely candidate to see time in the press box, but it’s also an opportunity for Coach Cooper to breed a little competition among his young forwards. We’ve seen this before, earlier in his coaching career when he was rotating out young forwards by the name of Cedric Paquette and JT Brown among others.
While Katchouk will sit out, he’ll get a couple of shots in place of Taylor Raddysh. While it’s kind of silly to think of with the break the Lightning are about to have, there will be some times down the stretch in March and April where Raddysh or Ross Colton may need a mental break. Plus, knowing that Katchouk would be breathing down their neck for playing time will keep them from relaxing.
The good news is that at some point this month we should see the actual line-up the Lightning were hoping to have at the beginning of the season. That should be fun.
Lightning / NHL News:
Power Outage in Syracuse [Raw Charge]
The offense is struggling a bit in Syracuse. That being said, after a few ups and downs, they are still in a position to make a run for the playoffs. Once they start converting some of the chances they’re creating things are going to be alright.
Good Guy Pat Maroon [Tampa Bay Times]
Pat Maroon came through with a stick and a puck for a young fan battling cystic fibrosis. Bradley Wombles is just 4 years, but he’s been through a lot. Maroon made his first Lightning game a truly special event.
Matt Corey was announced as the Chief Marketing Officer of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vinik Sports Group yesterday. He brings plenty of experience having held the position for the PGA Tour. Prior to that he worked for the Arthur Blank Sports & Entertainment Group.
This generation’s Mike Bossy. Mike Bossy won four straight Cups. I like that comparison.
The legendary netminder talks about her book, her life, and why she welcomed the opportunity to come to Tampa.
It didn’t matter to me why I was invited. When I was younger, so many people had said no to me—and wouldn’t allow me to play at a higher level, like AAA—because I was a girl. So if this time someone said yes to me because I’m a girl, I was going to take that opportunity
The NHL is going all in for the All-Star Game competition. Two new competitions, specific to Las Vegas, will take place. First is the NHL 21 event where players will shoot pucks at an oversized deck of of cards. There will also be the Fountain Face-Off at the Bellagio Fountains (the ones at the end of Oceans 11 for you folks who have never been to Vegas). There’s going to boats and targets to shoot at and a rink in the middle of the fountain. Should be fun chaos.
For the more traditional skills competitions, the league has invited some outside celebrities to participate. Actor Wyatt Russell and Manon Rheaume will be guest celebrity goaltenders for the breakaway challenge.
It’s pretty much what we heard about a month ago and for the most part are reverting back to what was in place at the beginning of the season. Fully vaccinated players no longer require daily testing is the big news. The league has recommended (but not required) players to get boosters when they are available. As always, any local requirements supersede the guidelines put in place by the league.
Your moment of zen - send this kid to the skills competition: