Over the past couple of seasons the Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t tinkered with their lines all that often. Sure, at some point during certain games, the Cooper Blend-o-Matic 2000 would come out to mix things up, but by the next game things were usually back to the standard. At their practice on Tuesday, the Lightning were running some combinations that fans haven’t seen a lot of this year:
a look at the lines today …— Gabby Shirley (@Gabby_Shirley_) March 15, 2022
Palat - Point - Cirelli
Killorn - Stamkos - Kucherov
Joseph - Colton - Perry
Maroon - Bellemare - Raddysh / Katchouk #GoBolts
This is how the top six spent most of the game against the Vancouver Canucks. The bottom lines started like this as well, but Corey Perry was returned to the School Bus Line shortly after Ross Colton’s goal.
Putting Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat with Brayden Point could be a way to get the two forwards out of their current funks. Cirelli has gone 13 games without a goal and Palat is at 16 games without one. They’re still playing their usual 200-foot games and Cirelli in particular has had a few golden chances recently. Now that they’re teamed up with Point, they can default to more of a defensive role with the Steven Stamkos line as the primary offensive threat.
With Stamkos back at center and Alex Killorn doing his thing in front of the net, Nikita Kucherov can run around doing what he needs to do to generate offense. In the game against the Canucks, the trio skated together for 12:43 and produced a 59.09 CF% and 59.74 xGF% while producing 7 scoring chances. Not bad. A few more games like that and they’ll be putting some pucks in the back of the net.
For the record, the Point line posted a 70.63 xGF% and 8 scoring chances. Let’s see if Coach Cooper sticks with these combinations for a bit.
Lightning / NHL News
The hatter trusted by the Lightning (and others) [Tampa Bay Times]
Logan Miles Allison is the fashion designer responsable for the chapeaus donned by the Lightning at the Stadium Series Game in Nashville.
Kraken ‘excited’ to face the Lightning [Seattle Times]
It’s a nice story about what the Kraken can learn from the Lightning (don’t take a shift off, work hard in all areas of the game, etc). I especially appreciated the subtle dig at the cap situation and the belief that Kucherov “could have returned sooner”.
Tyson Jost traded for Nico Strum, one for one [Mile High Hockey]
The teams swapped fourth-liners, but the big news is that the Avalanche cleared about $1.275 million off the salary cap. With their ability to add a couple of their injured players to LTIR they have the flexibility to add some serious firepower at the trade deadline.
Ben Chiarot is being held out as a precaution [Canadiens Twitter]
It’s that time of season. Seemingly healthy and productive players are being held out of games as their GMs work to trade them. Canadiens defenseman, Ben Chiarot, one of the top names on the block, didn’t play Tuesday night and likely won’t play again in a Habs uniform.
For you non-subscribers:
What they should do: The Lightning have no glaring needs to address before the trade deadline. But Tampa knows from winning back-to-back Stanley Cups that it takes a village. If there’s depth to be had on the market, the Lightning could well be involved in acquiring it.
Consider how GM Julien BriseBois brought in Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman previously because he knew that type of player — gritty, physical — would give Tampa the snarl every long playoff run inevitably requires. Without much cap room available, the Lightning probably won’t be targeting a marquee name, either.
What about Seattle’s Calle Jarnkrok, though? He’s the prototypical jack-of-all-trades who can play up and down the lineup, chip in on special teams and is low maintenance. Christian Fischer is another bottom-six skater who wouldn’t be too expensive to pry away from Arizona, and is used to being the kind of energy guy Tampa would need.
For the Lightning, it’s all about enhancement, just the slight nip or tuck that can really put them back over the top.
Look out, Ovechkin - Jaromir Jagr is coming for you, maybe