Quick Strikes: Anton Stralman will return from injury on West Canada trip, per TBL

But does Erik Cernak get bumped?

The Headline

From Bryan Burns: Anton Stralman, who has been on IR since late November, and Mathieu Joseph, who sat out the last game with an upper-body injury, will likely return to the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup “at some point” on the Western Canada trip. The issue that I see is that Erik Cernak is doing pretty well. Will JBB send him back to the Syracuse Crunch just as he’s hitting his stride? But what’s the alternative?

Western Canada trip provides another challenge for Lightning. [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The Lightning should get some help on the trip in the form of additional healthy bodies. Defenseman Anton Stralman, who has missed the last 17 games with an upper-body ailment that has nagged him for over a month now, should return at some point on the trip according to Cooper.

Forward Mathieu Joseph, who was a surprise scratch from the Toronto game with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day, will also make the trip and is hopeful to rejoin the lineup for one of the four games, although he likely won’t play in the road trip opener.

The Bolts

Whenever Toronto descends upon Tampa it becomes news Christmas for a day. There were many takes after Thursday’s game, some of them nice, and some of them ridiculous. Here’s a small smattering, hot off the internet.

We’ll start with the best (aside from our excellent colleagues at Pension Plan Puppets):

Even Deadspin was writing about Andrei Vasilevskiy. No joke! [Deadspin]

Vasilevsky made a big stops in short succession against Auston Matthews and John Tavares in the first period to keep the game close, but it was this one (or two or three?), on Patrick Marleau in the third, which is a save of the year candidate and was about as improbable as saves get. You absolutely will not grasp it until you see the replay.

Day after thoughts: Guess who’s back! Back again! Vasy’s back! Tell a friend! [Raw Charge]

But after that? Vasilevskiy was a stone wall. He showed exactly why he was a Vezina finalist last season. Despite a four-week break, he looked like he hadn’t missed a single game in shutting down the Maple Leafs offense.

This is always nice to hear: Stanley Cup Odds Update: Lightning Atop the NHL Futures. [Sports Illustrated]

Tampa Bay is listed at +350 (bet $100 to win $350) to take home the Stanley Cup while Toronto is right behind at +380. The Lightning lead the Maple Leafs by eight points in the standings though and just got goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy back from a broken foot.

Lightning Stone the Maple Leafs: Who Was That Masked Man? [THW]

Many of his 48 saves were stunners. In addition, the unlucky Maple Leafs hit the iron three times in the first period. Vasilevskiy made a great pad save on John Tavares’ backhand late in the first period. He stopped Nazem Kadri’s deflection in the middle of the second period. He made the save of the season, using both glove and skate, on Marleau’s point-blank shot early in the third. Get my point: late – middle – early, Vasilevskiy, Vasilevskiy, Vasilevskiy.


Vasilevskiy must be in peak form once the post-season rolls around. This may seem obvious, but the big Russian netminder played a career-high 65 games for the Lightning last season and it seemed to catch up to him in the second half, where his performance dropped off. To wit: he surrendered six goals in a game three times in March alone.

This whole article made me laugh -- Toronto Maple Leafs: When a Loss Is Really a Win [Editor in Leaf]

The Lightning scored two goal in the final minute of the second, and the game went to the dressing room with them up 4-1. But if the scoreboard read 8-1 Leafs, that would have been a more accurate representation of the game played to that point.

The Toronto Maple Leafs just kicked the crap out of the so-called best team in the NHL and lost because of a series of unlucky events.

The Prospects

Grading the Crunch Rookies: Alex Barre-Boulet continues to impress [Raw Charge]

There have been only six games this season in which Barre-Boulet hasn’t recorded a point. In those six games he was robbed of a goal roughly 456 times. That might be a bit of an overstatement, but it shouldn’t take away from how good he’s been for the Crunch so far this season.

In News of the Weird: Justin Bieber reps Syracuse hockey on date with Hailey Baldwin [Syracuse.com]

The Daily Mail reports the 24-year-old singer was spotted out on a movie date Wednesday in Los Angeles with his wife, 22-year-old model Hailey Baldwin. As temperatures dipped into the 50s (that’s cold for L.A.) the couple dressed warmly; paparazzi photos show Baldwin in a furry tan coat, while her husband wore a Syracuse Orange hockey sweater jersey with a backwards hat.

The Game

It no longer sucks, so it’s worth the price:

Best thing about yesterday:

I’m really looking forward to this!

Happy Saturday! I’m looking forward to a true test of the Lightning’s skills against the Winnipeg Jets tomorrow.