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Lightning Round: Goalie Chaos and Jack Eichel

And the Bolts need to regroup

Minnesota Wild v Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT, MI - MARCH 10: Officials step in to break up a scrum between players from the Minnesota Wild and the Detroit Red Wings at the end of the second period in an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 10, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.
Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Last night in the NHL was messy to say the least. We had own goals in Detroit, child-like defending in Toronto, a goalie fight back in Detroit, and then a sharp heel turn in Buffalo. Let’s get into it.

First up, Alex Nedeljkovic scored one of the dumber own goals in recent memory in an eventual Minnesota Wild shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings. Nedeljkovic had the puck going into the corner after a dump in, but instead of letting it go, he tried to swat it into the middle of the ice where one of his defenders were. Naturally, the puck bounced off his stick and into the back of the net, turning a dump in into an own goal. Joel Eriksson-Ek was credited with the goal, unassisted.

Before we head back to Detroit, I have to show you this incredible defensive play by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 5-4 OT loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Oh yes. Petr Mrázek was caught swimming alongside most of his Leafs skaters around him as Jakob Chychrun scored on a wiffle ball shot. Mrázek allowed two more goals in the period and was pulled for Erik Källgren, who made his NHL debut against the team that drafted him. The Leafs came back to tie the game, but eventually lost on a second goal from Chychrun. There were lots of wild moments in that game, so I definitely recommend going through Omar’s timeline to check them out.

Back to Detroit. Pushing, shoving, and jawing between the two teams in front of the net as Detroit was trying to hold a slim lead into the third period. As the whistle blew, a huge brawl broke out. This included Cam Talbot rushing across the ice to try and fight Nedeljkovic, who was punching Wild players in the melee. As mentioned, the Red Wings eventually lost the lead in the third, but tied the game late to send it to a shootout, where Talbot was perfect and Nedeljkovic allowed two goals on two shots in the loss.

And last but not least from last night: Jack Eichel went heel in his postgame interview after playing his old team in the Buffalo Sabres. It was a cathartic night for the Sabres, who have chosen to blame Eichel for everything wrong with the franchise, and who can blame them after their team beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 at home. There were signs, and then Alex Tuch (who was traded for Eichel) beat him at the blueline to seal the game with an empty netter, and all of that led to Eichel’s postgame comments.

H’okay there.

I always find reading the losing perspective to be more fun than listening to what happened from the winners. It always feels more bitter. So here are the losing recaps from Detroit, Toronto, and Vegas. Enjoy!

In Tampa news, the Bolts lost 4-1 to the Calgary Flames, with Johnny Gaudreau scoring a hat trick in the loss. The Bolts — who have lost two in a row and given up the first goal in a lot more — have a lot they need to work on, and Matt has the full recap for that analysis. [Raw Charge]

“Frustration sums up this evening’s game. Tampa Bay failed to maintain control and didn’t dictate the pace consistently all game. There were flashes from the Lightning, but Markstrom and the Flames defense did a spectacular job taking away Tampa Bay’s top weapons. The silver lining is that the Lightning did play a better game than they have over the past few games, but little things are still the root problem of Tampa Bay’s recent struggles.”

Justin wrote a piece on Andrei Vasilevskiy and needing to manage his minutes down the stretch as all the teams in the league are trying to play every other night to get through the season. His numbers have dipped, and my personal opinion is the Bolts needed to get a different backup to pair with Vasilevskiy this season. Brian Elliott has been decent in his role, but at his age it’s hard to trust him with more minutes as they try to give Vasy less. Backup goaltending might be an area to address ahead of the trade deadline. There are guys on cheap contracts out there than can take some of the load off Vasy’s shoulders better than Elliott probably can. [Raw Charge]

“Still, on a nightly basis he is one of the top two or three players for the team and a major component of why they win so many games. More importantly, their playoff success will be determined by how well he will, or won’t play. No other player will have as much of an effect on how far they go than Vasilevskiy. So, how will the compacted schedule over the next 50 days effect his readiness for the playoffs?”