The Tampa Bay Lightning had a heck of a weekend. Not only did they celebrate their first outdoor game, but they also picked up two vital points as they continue to chase down the Florida Panthers while holding off the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s going to be a fun stretch run, ain’t it?
There will be a lot of hockey for the Bolts over the next two months, but they only face off against their two rivals a total of three times (Toronto twice, Florida once). The three games will all be in April with the April 24th game against the Panthers probably being of vital importance in the standings.
Of course, winning the division isn’t the primary goal for the Lightning. They’ve pretty much shown that they can win wherever they play be it home, on the road, in a bubble, or outside. At this point they just want to stay healthy and roll out their optimal line-up. While Zach Bogosian remains out for at least another week, this is an argument to be Cal Foote may make them a better team.
It’s been a rough year for Bogo as he’s had to deal with a couple of injuries, and while neither player is clearing shelf space for a Norris this year, Foote has provided a little more help on the defensive side. Playing on the third pair as they do, all the team is really looking for them is to break even.
Now, if the injury sustained by Erik Cernak lingers on, things get a little more dicey. Pushing Foote up the line-up (althoug he paired well with Victor Hedman earlier in the season) and inserting Andrej Sustr or Darren Raddysh into the rotation hurts a little bit. It might also spur Julien BriseBois into figuring out how to bring in some depth on the right side.
For now, everything else seems to be rolling along just as the team would want it. If they can maintain their level of play and health over the next two months, they should be in a pretty good spot come playoff time.
Lightning / NHL News
As you can imagine there aren’t any Lightning players on this list, but there are a couple they may be interested in if the brain trust believes the team needs a little depth.
Steven Stamkos makes most of Stadium Series opportunity [Tampa Bay Times]
Three points including the game-winning goal, not a bad outdoor debut for a man who waiting 890 games to play one.
Pat Maroon made the most of the after-Stadium Series opportunity
Statement from the IIHF [IIHF]
The full statement from the organization that governs international hockey:
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is saddened and deeply concerned by the recent events in Ukraine. The IIHF and its Council condemn the use of military force and urge the use of diplomatic means to solve conflicts. Our thoughts are with the people in Ukraine and the Ukrainian ice hockey family.
As the IIHF has a duty of care to all its Championship participants, the IIHF Council is reviewing and considering the implications of this conflict on our events. A Council meeting has been called for Monday late afternoon on 28 February.
Dinamo Riga withdraws from the KHL [Sportsnet]
The Latvian team becomes the second team (after Jokerit Helsinki in Finalnd) to leave the Russian-based professional league after hostilities began in Ukraine last week.
Your timeline cleanse comes courtesy of an alumni game between Dallas and Detroit. Old friend Kyle Quincey and Vern Fiddler got together at center ice for some good ol’ fashioned...dancing?