Quick Strikes: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik hoping for 4OT final between Leafs, Bruins

Will we see the longest game in NHL history tonight?

The Bolts

Game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins is tonight. Depending on the winner, the Tampa Bay Lightning will have a different schedule for the second round games. [Tampa Bay Times]

When asked after Saturday’s series-clinching victory against the Devils if he cared which team the Lightning would face in the second round, D Anton Stralman said, “No, they’re both great teams. Maybe Boston had quite a bit of a run there at the end and maybe came into the playoffs a little bit hotter, but they’re two really, really good teams. Whoever we play is going to be a tough challenge, a fun challenge and a great opportunity.”

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik knows exactly what needs to happen tonight. “I hope they go four overtimes and beat the crap out of each other.” [TSN]

Though they’re unlikely to admit it, the Lightning would likely prefer to face the Maple Leafs in the second round, based on the season series. The Lightning posted a 3-1 record against the Maple Leafs this season, outscoring Toronto 13-10. Against the Bruins, the Lightning went 1-3 and were outscored 10-8.

At practice yesterday, head coach Jon Cooper made it his priority to ensure his players aren’t going to come out rusty on Saturday after a whole week off.

Let’s hope Steven wasn’t JUST sitting on his couch watching the playoffs like the rest of us!

The Prospects

The Adirondack Thunder nearly blow their first round series to the Worchester Railers but eventually come out on top in six games. [Raw Charge]

After pushing Worcester to the brink of elimination on Wednesday, the Thunder allowed the Railers to jump back into the series on Saturday after blowing what looked like an insurmountable three goal lead. But, the “Red Army” would get back into formation, and finally finish off the first round in 6 games.

Boris Katchouk had himself a heck of a week that saw his Soo Greyhounds win a game 7 and jump out to a 2-0 series lead in the OHL Western Conference Finals. [The Hockey News]

With a great combination of skill and hockey sense, Katchouk is in the midst of a banner year that includes world junior gold with Canada. Right now, the Tampa Bay pick is the leading scorer in the OHL playoffs with 23 points in 14 games and he is playing in all situations. NHL arrival: 2019-20

The Syracuse Crunch will try to eliminate the Rochester Americans tonight in game 3 of their five game series. Rochester defenseman Andrew MacWilliam was suspended for three games (the rest of the first round) for returning to the ice surface after being kicked out in the second period of game two. [NHL dot com]

Matthew Peca leads all players in the Calder Cup Playoffs with five points (1g, 4a) through two games. He had an assist in Game 1 then a recorded his first-career four-point game (1g, 3a) in Game 2. His power-play goal opened the scoring in Game 2. Peca’s four assists are tied for the most in the AHL. Peca, who turns 25 Friday, is in his third playoff season. In 27 career Calder Cup Playoffs games, Peca has 21 points (6g, 15a). He had 14 points (4g, 10a) in 22 games in 2017.

Connor Ingram gets the start tonight, despite Eddie Pasquale winning both games previous. [Syracuse]

“My wise father always says it’s just a hockey game,’’ Ingram said after practice Tuesday. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Stanley Cup final or we’re playing shinny in Imperial rink (in Saskatchewan). My job never changes, no matter what stage you’re on. As long you keep the puck out of the net, people are going to be happy. The stakes might change, but my job never changes.’’

The Game

The story of being a female professional hockey player and the vast vast chasm between it and the NHL. [Hamden Quinnipiac Press] (a friend of mine wrote this so y’all better read it).

Cydney Roesler first stepped on the ice when she was 5 years old. Her father was a former college hockey player for Colgate University and taught her how to skate along with her mother. This is normal for a kid growing up in Canada, where ice sports are a way of life.

At 8 years old, she made the switch from a Canadian sport called ringette to hockey. She immediately fell in love with the game. Even at a young age, Roesler was competitive and this fast, physical game was a perfect match. However, there was one catch: Roesler had to play with boys.

The Bruins have had to play a lot of intense hockey for long time. @alex_kirshner comes to the conclusion that the B’s must be exhausted. [SB Nation]

Still, all the usual disclaimers about the volatility of a Game 7 apply. That Boston has played so well the last two games is encouraging, but that it hasn’t gotten rewarded yet is disconcerting. It would happen eventually if these teams were playing 10 more games, but they’re not. They’re playing one more, and the Leafs will go into that one game with the confidence that even two of the Bruins’ best efforts haven’t been enough to sink them.

We have had over a decade of Ovi vs. Crosby, and Crosby’s Penguins owning Ovi’s Capitals. Let’s look back at 11 specific games that turned this rivalry into what it is. [SB Nation]

But every playoff matchup in the last decade has been dramatic. The Penguins needed to win road Game 7s twice and an overtime Game 6 the other time. The teams have also played bunches of good regular-season games since Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin arrived in 2005 to bring the league’s biggest star power into the series.

The Minnesota Wild fired their GM (looks at words scribbled on hand) Chuck Fletcher and are in need of a replacement. Here are the fans’ wishlist. [Hockey Wilderness]

The Wild also need to take a look at the player development throughout their organization. At the beginning of Fletcher’s tenure, it seemed like the Wild were getting production from their late round picks and undrafted prospects. Players like Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine would come up and contribute in key depth roles.

France have won their way to the top tier of women’s hockey just in time for the 2018 World Championships. [Pension Plan Puppets]

Unfortunately, whether due to having played their hearts out in two tournaments already that season or just straight up bad luck, the 2017 Worlds were a disaster for France. They lost every game, and only scored one goal (Lara Escudero, assisted by Clara Rozier, against Austria). In any other year that would have seen them relegated back to Group B. But they got lucky...

Highlight of the Night: really scraping the bottom of the barrel this morning