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Lightning Round: Don’t worry, they’ll work their way out of this

No need to panic just yet

Scott Thomas Photography

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a pretty big game tonight with the Boston Bruins. While a loss wouldn’t be the end of the world, it would allow the Bruins to leapfrog the Lightning in the standings and leave the defending champs in a wildcard spot. There is plenty of time to turn things around, but the Bolts probably don’t want to wait too long to find their best game.

The players and coaching staff know whats wrong and are working on fixing it. Primarily they are spending way too much time in their own zone and allowing their opponents to dictate play. Not only does that lead to way too many opportunities for the other team, but it leads to a lot more penalties, an area of the game Tampa Bay has been struggling with quite a bit lately.

I’m a big believer that you can predict future performance by looking at past practices. The Lightning have been in this boat before and the current iteration of the coaching staff and players have found ways to work out of it. I remember quite a bit of worry at the end of last season when they skidded into the playoffs with a few less than great games. There were stretches in 2019-20 as well where their play had the same kind of lackluster shine to it, almost like they were just going through the motions.

In both seasons they played their way out of it. The mini-slumps affecting Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, and Anthony Cirelli will end. If they all end at around the same time (which often happens) then they will go right back to looking like the team that has won back-to-back Cups.

Even in their last two losses, they only lost by a goal in each despite having long stretches of being outplayed by New York and Carolina. Even in their roughest stretch of the season, it still takes everything a team can throw at them to beat them. A couple of tweaks here and there and the next thing you know they’ll reel off a four or five game winning streak.

It would be nice if one of those streaks started tonight.

Lightning / NHL News

Lightning work through rough stretch while getting newcomers up to speed [Tampa Bay Times]

Getting Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul up to speed may take more than a game or three. It wasn’t like Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman were off and running once they joined the team a couple of years ago. An interesting note in this story is that the Lightning aren’t the only team struggling right now:

Only six of the league’s 32 teams have won more than six of their past 10 games (Tampa Bay is 4-6-0).

It looks like they may shake the lines up a bit to get things going. Anthony Cirelli on the fourth line is something.

Crunch shutout Monsters, 4-0 [Syracuse Crunch]

Max Lagace ran his personal winning streak to 5 games with a 21-save shutout. P.C Labrie, Cole Koepke, Alex Barre-Boulet, and Gage Goncalves scored for the Crunch. Barre-Boulet has three consecutive multi-point games. How about those throwback uniforms, by the way?

Scott Thomas Photography

A primer on the PHF an Isobel Cup Playoffs [Raw Charge]

If you need a little break from the Lightning, or just enjoy hockey, head on out to Wesley Chapel and watch some of the best in women’s hockey battle it out for the Isobel Cup. Before you go, read this primer.

Matthew Peca signs two-year extension with St. Louis Blues [CapFriendly]

The former Lightning prospect has been playing with the Springfield Thunderbirds this season and posted an impressive 49 points [19 goals, 30 assists] in 52 games. He’s parlayed that into a two-year/two-way contract with the Blues.

NHL officially invalidates the Evgenii Dadonov trade [Knights on Ice]

Well now, the Golden Knights are now officially in a pickle. The league has invalidated the trade of Dadonov (and his $5 million cap hit) to the Anaheim Ducks. The Golden Knights may still be able to move him to another (probably non-playoff) team but if that happens Dadonov isn’t eligible to play for the rest of the season. For right now, the Golden Knights are okay, but once their injured players are healthy enough to come off of LTIR, things will become dire.

32 Thoughts - Dadonov trade fallout [SportsNet]

Elliotte Friedman delves deeply into the failed trade and some of the things that may happen because of it. Also, the fact that Phil Kessel wasn’t traded because Arizona was already retaining salary on three contracts (the maximum amount a team can retain) is somewhat funny to me.

Flyers acquire Brennan Menell from Toronto [Flyers Twitter]

This is pretty much an AHL deal as Menell has been playing with the Marlies for most of this season. He’ll likely stay in the AHL, but kudos for the Flyers for making deals past the trade deadline.

Grading all 32 teams at the trade deadline [ESPN+]

Lightning get a B+ from the folks at ESPN as they acknowledge Julien BriseBois’ willingness to go all in to get what he wants.

The Lightning wanted Brandon Hagel and wanted him bad. Chicago moved him to Tampa for a massive haul: Two first-round picks, Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk. Hey, if you’re going to three-peat now, who cares about the future? BriseBois can put that on a T-shirt.