Quick Strikes: May cupid’s arrow be Pointy and strike the Tampa Bay Lightning with goals

Happy Hockey Valentine’s Day, y’all!

The Tampa Bay Lightning came out flat against the Buffalo Sabres, and the players who lead the team are saying the usual stuff about hard work and effort. Last night’s loss not a well-earned one. It wasn’t on Louis Domingue, it was on the rest of the team for playing with no energy in front of him. Here’s Hardev’s recap. [Raw Charge]

It felt like Victor Hedman and just a handful of Tampa Bay Lightning players decided to mosey south down Queen Elizabeth Way for a game against the Buffalo Sabres. As a result, they got their rear-ends handed to them in a 5-3 loss that could’ve been 5-1 if not for a couple “Classic Sabre” moments.



Anyway, at least there are the dads:

Let’s rehash this until the trade deadline. New York Rangers: Potential Trade Targets on Tampa Bay -- “Tampa Bay is the clear Cup favorite and one of the possible destinations for Ryan McDonagh. The Lightning roster is stacked at the NHL level but also contains many high-end prospects. This stockpile makes some of them expendable as they chase their Cup aspirations.” [Blueline Station]

Firewall content from The Athletic: Lightning face trade deadline dilemma, but Yzerman only buying if the calculations add up. “We’re very anxious about what’s going to happen on trade deadline and leading up to it,” admitted Norris Trophy candidate Victor Hedman on Monday morning. “We’re such a close-knit family in this room. Best-case scenario is we don’t lose anyone and we gain someone. But in a cap era, it’s tough not to. For us, it’s about focusing on what we can control, really. It’s out of our control what’s going to happen.” [The Athletic]

Happy thoughts from Joe. Nikita Kucherov in rare company with third 30-goal season -- “Even though I wasn’t scoring, the line I played with, we still had a lot of chances,” Kucherov said. “I had my confidence, it never went away. If I had 20 assists, would we be talking about confidence?” [Tampa Bay Times]

Pumpkin emoji goes here. LONG, WINDING ROAD LEADS TO NHL SUCCESS FOR LIGHTNING ROOKIE GOURDE -- “It’s a long path, a long way to get to the NHL,” Gourde said. “But it was an awesome experience. Every year. As long as I was going to school and keep studying and playing hockey, it was the best of both worlds. I could keep playing hockey and keep studying. My backup plan was always really close to me.” [THW]

Did you miss this cool save? Tampa Bay Lightning video breakdown: Vasilevskiy’s save. Yes, that one. “At this point, with the shot being blocked and his vision screen, Vasilevskiy can try to push Brown out of the way or stand up taller to try and see over him. He chooses a different route.” [Raw Charge]

Buffalo loves its Canisius College son. Cory Conacher took a step back to find his way back into the NHL -- “They gave me a place to stay in Tampa so they have confidence in me to help this team be successful so that’s nice. It’s reassurance that I made the right decision to come back here, especially to re-sign with Tampa. This is a team that could possibly go far in the playoffs if not win the Stanley Cup, and I want to be a part of that as much as I can.” [Buffalo News]

It’s always a good idea to not worry about being traded. Slater Koekkoek stays positive through uncertainty -- “The Lightning defenseman is still trying to find a consistent spot in the lineup, getting healthy scratched in 26 of 57 games. But the 23-year-old has felt good about his game when he plays, saying the key is remaining  positive.” [Tampa Bay Times]

My daughter is a Girl Scout so I am OVERJOYED to see this kind of happy news coming from Tampa. Pinellas County HS Senior awarded $50,000 from the TB Lightning for her efforts helping young women -- “To answer the need, the resourceful Girl Scout of more than 13 years, started the Career Café. A one-day, free event in October 2017, for young women ages 16-23.” [ABC Action News]

And the rest of the Valentine’s Day cards from the NHL are here:

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch held a symposium yesterday, and a number of important folk talked.

And also there are Valentines.


The Olympics

Pyeongchang 2018: Canada holds off Finland 4-1, USA defeats Russia 5-0. “Great start for Canada, who will get a bye into the semi-finals if USA beats Russia today, but lousy finish. Finland outshot Canada 13-8 in the third. Hopefully Canada can tighten up and keep their focus in the next game, Wednesday night at 10:10 pm Eastern.” [Pension Plan Puppets]

US women prepare for hockey showdown with Canada with 5-0 rout of the Olympic Athletes from Russia. “The U.S. women’s 5-0 preliminary-round victory on Tuesday got the formalities out of the way and ensured that their final round-robin game against Canada on Thursday will have some significance. The winner will get the No. 1 seed in the group and a potentially better matchup in the semifinals after both get byes through the quarterfinals.” [LA Times]