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Quick Strikes: Kucherov is in second place in the Rocket Richard Trophy race

The Bolts

“The Tampa Bay Lightning breathed life into their playoff hopes last night by beating Boston; they kept those hopes from being snuffed out by coming back to beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in overtime. Nikita Kucherov scored the game winner in the extra session off a beautiful pass from Brayden Point to stay a point away from the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.” [Raw Charge]

The game-winning goal was Kucherov’s 38th of the year, giving him sole possession of second place in the Rocket Richard Trophy race.

Maybe it’s time to seriously consider Nikita Kucherov for the Hart trophy for league MVP. “I think what he’s done has even more significance because of the fact (the Lightning) doesn’t have any players,” said former NHL player Ray Ferraro, an NBCSN analyst. “There’s no Stamkos, no Johnson. So it’s easy to focus on one guy. Yet he still finds a way to make himself the centerpiece of pretty much everything that they do.” [Tampa Bay Times]

The Lightning don’t have much depth on blue line, so expect the Bolts to target a defenseman in the upcoming draft. “Let’s take a look at some of the defense prospects that are expected to go in that 12-15 range of the first round and get a head start on scouting for the draft.” [Raw Charge]

The League

“The NHL Players’ Association is considering introducing a new regulation that would bar certified agents from contacting players under the age of 16 or their family members… Two current NHL player agents told TSN that some agencies hire bird-dog scouts, who are typically former pro players not certified as agents, to establish relationships with players as young as nine or 10.” [TSN]

There’s a ton of talent in college hockey, but not a lot of places to play. “U.S.A. Hockey’s executive director, Dave Ogrean, cited the economics of hockey as the primary impediment to expansion. ‘Obviously, it costs a lot of money,’ he said. ‘That’s why you’re never going to have an explosion in the number of programs.’ For now, college hockey will have to settle for an explosion of players.” [The New York Times]

Mario Lemieux has no issue with Joshua Ho Sang wearing number 66. “I’m fine with it,” Lemieux told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s just a number. No. 4 and No. 9 were worn by great players (Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe, respectively), and they are not retired forever. Players can choose whatever number they want.” [NHL]

One final reminder: Nikita Kucherov is having a ridiculously impressive season.

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