Quick Strikes: Five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects go head to head(s) in the World Juniors Semis

And why is the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching staff wearing superhero lapel pins?

The Bolts

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos will be captaining the Atlantic Division at the 2018 Honda NHL®All-Star Game during the weekend of January 27th to 28th.

Alex Ovechkin, P.K. Subban, and Connor McDavid will also make their way to Florida to captain the Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific divisions, respecively. [Raw Charge]

“P.K. Subban is the third-highest scoring defenseman in the league — he would lead the Montreal Canadiens in points by a mile — and is an absolute treat to watch on and off the ice.”

The NHL and Adidas have also released what the All-Star Game jerseys will look like. Yay or nay? Go to our poll in the link above and have your say!

Here is Stammer’s jersey with the name, numbers, and close-ups of the details.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock had some high praise for the Lightning organization. “I like the way they’ve moved past players when they thought they should.” [Tampa Bay Times]

“(The Lightning is) a high end hockey club,” Babcock said. “I like their team. They play fast. The (Brayden) Point kid has really given them more options. They’ve got a lot of centers on that team. They’ve got center playing wing, got center playing center. They’ve got too many centers, actually. To me, that’s how you build a hockey club.”

The Lightning went a dazzling 11-1-1 in the month of December. Countdown the top-10 plays of the month with Caley Chelios and Bryan Burns!

The Bolts’ top line might have Stamkov on it, but let’s not forget about Vladislav Namestnikov. He’s a very good goal-scorer in his own right. [The Athletic]

“As much as Stammer and Nikita Kucherov have that chemistry, you can also sit there and say that Kuch and Namestnikov have a lot of chemistry as well. They all play off each other,’’ said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

The Prospects

Czech Journalist Pavel Bárta of iSport.cz spoke with 30-minute a night top defenseman for the Czech Republic Libor Hajek about all aspects of his hockey past, present, and future. Our resident translator Igor Nokonov was kind enough to translate and transcribe the entire conversation. [Raw Charge]

“Defeating Russians is always an honor. They have a good team, so I’m happy. Victory has given us confidence; the Swedes are next. We’ll see. Definitely there will be less stress. We felt better at practice. Personally I can confirm that when the last game went okay, you feel better the next day and believe in yourself.”

The Czechs and Canadians will face each other before facing the winner and loser of Sweden vs. USA in the gold- and bronze-medal games at the World Juniors today. All five remaining Lightning prospects will be playing in the Canada vs. Czech Republic game airing at 8pm EST on the NHL Network in the USA and on TSN in Canada.

Christopher Paquette and his Peterborough Petes fell hard to the Hamilton Bulldogs, losing by a score of 7-2. Paquette did not record a point. [Bolt Prospects]

“The Petes were no match for the division-leading and second-best team in the OHL. Hamilton got two goals each from Isaac Nurse (undrafted) and Matthew Strome (PHI, 2017 4th round pick), as part of a four-goal 3rd period that broke a tenuous 3-2 lead wide open.”

Read Bolt Prospects (above) as well as NHL.com’s prospect roundup this week. It includes an update on all the World Junior, CHL, NCAA, USHL, and AHL Syracuse Crunch prospects. [NHL dot com]

“Hajek has six points (1G-5A) to lead all Czech defensemen and rank third in team scoring through five games. He also leads all tournament defensemen in scoring.”

The Game

The US Men’s Olympic team has a pair of faces that fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning may find familiar. [Raw Charge]

“Both players played parts of a single season with Tampa earlier this century. While neither had a huge impact on the organization’s success (or failure), since they are going to be battling for American Glory, here is a deeper look at their time with the Lightning.”

It’s 31 Thoughts time! The Atlantic continues to sink (except Boston), RIP Johnny Bower, and why are the Tampa Bay Lightning coaches wearing superhero lapel pins? [Sportsnet]

“That’s in doubt now, and I think he understands that his tenure is coming to end... GM Marc Bergevin is well aware he’d be selling low at this time, and getting Pacioretty with better centres and/or right-hand shots is going to benefit him big time.”

“If it happens, it happens.” - Max Pacioretty [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

The Ottawa Senators made history last night. They became the victim of the fastest 3-on-3 overtime goal in NHL history. Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings potted the puck to give the Sens only one win in their last seven games. [Winging it in Motown]

Former Bolt Jonathan Marchessault finally gets paid. The 27-year-old minute winger will be paid $5 million per year for the next six years. [ESPN]

“The forward is the leading scorer on the Golden Knights with 15 goals and 22 assists in 35 games, helping the record-setting NHL expansion franchise to the best record in the Western Conference. He had been playing on the final year of a two-year contract with an average annual salary of $750,000.”

Highlight of the Night: Jimmy Howard laid out and robbed Erik Karlsson (yes, THAT Erik Karlsson) with his glove while on his stomach.