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Lightning Round: Three Stars of the Week

It wasn’t a great week for the team, but a couple of players played okay.

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s always kind of hard to pick the top players in a week where no one really stood out in three rather lackluster games for the Tampa Bay Lightning. They went west and dropped two out of three games with the lone win coming against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that is more focused on the draft than the playoffs.

The offense struggled with 4 of their 7 goals coming against Chicago and their defense wasn’t much better as they surrendered 10 (2 of them empty netters) goals. They took too many penalties (20) and didn’t do a great job in killing them as they were at a lackluster 71.4% (10 for 14). On the flipside they only converted 2 of their 12 power plays and allowed a shorthanded goal. In short, 2023 started on a flat note, but lets take a look at who had a decent week.

Brian Elliott

2 Games Played, 1 Win, 1 Loss, .914 SV%, 2.53 GAA, 0.19 GSAx

He played really well against Chicago with 25-of-26 shots stopped, and had a ton of bad luck/deflected/screened goals against in the Minnesota game. Plus, he didn’t know until the last minute that he was going to start. For a position that loves their routines, it is really tough to switch things up. Not to mention it was on back-to-back nights.

Nick Paul

3 Games Played, 1 Goal, 0 Assist, 17:28 TOI, 1.52 iXG, 4 Takeaways, 3 Rush Attempts

Paul led the team in individual expected goals this week and while all he had to show was the one goal, he played with pretty high energy in all three games. Even in the first period against Chicago when the rest of the team looked a little lethargic, Paul was playing with his usual frenetic pace.

Brandon Hagel

3 Games Played, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 19:51 TOI, .73 iXG, 4 Takeaways

Hagel kicked off the week with a 2-point effort against his old team in Chicago. He led the team in points with 3 this week and he had a hand in both of the power play goals that the Lightning scored this week. The four takeaways tied for the team lead with Nick Paul over the week, so that was nice. He also tied for the team lead with 9 shots on goal (14 shot attempts total) and had 5 high-danger chances.

The Bolts have three more games this week with two of them at home and no back-to-backs. Hopefully, they put up some better numbers.

Lightning / NHL News

Lightning’s penchant for penalties becoming an issue [Tampa Bay Times]

Not only does it give the other team a prime opportunity to score, it takes the Lightning’s best players off the ice for two minutes. We’ve long dealt with this team taking a lot of penalties, but over the last week it really was a problem.

Bolt Beginnings: Victor Hedman [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The second installment of the series produced by the Lightning takes a look at Victor Hedman’s upbringing and his early days with MoDo.

Crunch sign Kaden Fulcher to PTO [Syracuse Crunch]

With current back-up Jack LaFontaine facing a lengthy suspension for his actions on Saturday against Rochester and Hugo Alnefelt still nursing an injury the Crunch needed a back-up. They went with the 24-year-old who has been playing with the Reading Royals in the ECHL.

Gemel Smith may also be facing a suspension due to the penalties he was assessed in the same scrum. It is likely being reviewed by the AHL and we’ll hear shortly on both players. Smith has been on a tear this season with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 26 games. After a few seasons of dealing with taxi squads and injuries, this is the most action he’s seen on the ice since 2019-20 when he put up 40 points in 50 games with the Crunch. His loss would be huge for a Syracuse team fighting for a playoff spot.

Marc-Andre Fleury to take temporary leave [The Athletic]

According to The Athletic Fleury left the team on Sunday to deal with a personal issue. He is expected to rejoin them the team in New York on Tuesday. In the meantime, Zane McIntyre may be in line to start his first NHL game in six years if Flip Gustavsson hasn’t recovered from his illness.

Silvertips trade Zellweger [Everett Silvertips]

It's that time of year - CHL trade season. The Kamloops Blazers are all in as they sent 10 (!) draft picks and four players to the Everett Silvertips for Owen Zellweger (an Anaheim Ducks prospect) and Ryan Hofer (a Washington Capitals prospect).