Lightning Round: Stars of the Week
Zero, we award zero stars this week.
Who are we kidding? There were no stars this week. Sure, Nikita Kucherov put up a nice 1 goal, 4 assist week and Victor Hedman put up 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 3 games, but after getting smoked in three games, it would be insincere to push across any accolades. The Lightning were outscored 19-8 in their losses to the Rangers, Islanders, and Senators.
As we will see later in the news section below, the play of the team even surprised the coach a bit, especially coming on the heels of such a positive week prior. This team's Jekyll and Hyde performance hasn't exactly instilled a lot of confidence in the fan base, but in the end, does it really matter?
The Lightning are currently 45-29-6 with two games to go. They're likely to win one of the next two games and finish with 46 wins. Outside of making us all feel a little better is there that big of a difference in 46, 47, or 49 wins? Not really. They weren't really going to catch Toronto for the second spot and it would have been a stretch to outpoint Carolina or New Jersey so that wouldn't have helped them with home-ice should they advance to the Eastern Conference Final.
Despite the recent run of inconsistency the confidence level this team possesses remains high. They have been down this road before and, despite the cliché to the contrary, have proven that they can flip it on when the playoffs start up.
They're in a kind of hockey purgatory where nothing they do right now actually means anything. Hopefully, this week's two games serve as a warm-up for the playoffs. There should be a little life in their game against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, and the last game in front of the home games always has a little energy to it.
Still, even if they lose both games this week, nothing really changes. They're still heading up to Toronto to start the first round on Monday or Tuesday. Everything resets at that point and if they knock out the Maple Leafs in the first round all of the regular season is forgotten.
So, let's not get too worked up about these next two games, cool?
Recapping the finale of a winless road trip [Tampa Bay Lightning]
Coach Cooper is a bit surprised by how the team has played since clinching a playoff spot, "We're playing like the season ended when we clinched a playoff spot, like there was no season left. I'm surprised. I've been with this group a long time."
"I'm extremely surprised that this is how it's happening
Leafs sign prospect Matthew Knies [Pension Plan Puppets]
With the end of college season official, the Leafs signed their second round pick from 2021. Knies is a 6'3", 209 lbs. left winger from the University of Minnesota and will join the team in Sunrise for their game against the Panthers. Stick tap to the Leafs for the salary cap maneuvering they went through to sign a 20-year-old prospect.
Minnesota Wild sign Brock Faber [Hockey Wilderness]
Knies' fellow Gopher, Brock Faber, also signed an entry level deal with his NHL team, the Minnesota Wild. Faber, a 20-year-old defenseman, was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in the Kevin Fiala deal last summer.
Canadiens reassign four to AHL [Habs Eyes on the Prize]
With the Canadiens season all but over, Montreal reassigned four players to their AHL squad in Laval. Jesse Ylonen, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Corey Schueneman, and Cayden Primeau will all help the Rocket try and maintain their spot in the North Division playoff race.
Boston Bruins recall five players [Boston Bruins]
Forwards Vinni Lettieri and Oskar Steen along with defensemen Jack Ahcan and Conner Carrick along with goaltender Brandon Bussi were recalled from Providence as the Bruins have a bit of an injury issue. Nick Foligno and Derek Forbort were placed on LTIR while David Krejci and Linus Ullmark are a little banged up right now.
Best defensive pairs in the NHL [Daily Face Off]
Despite a bit of a cooling off as a pairing, Erik Cernak and Ian Cole still made the list. They'll be a key pairing in the playoffs, hopefully they can get back to being a true shutdown pairing.