Quick Strikes: Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Callahan score in 4-2 preseason loss to Panthers

Dan Girardi almost broke open scoring, y’all.

The Bolts

Sadly, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost a critical game in the PSRNHLCC hunt last night when they fell, 4-2, to the Florida Panthers. (What? You ask. Well, you know how @loserpoints wrote yesterday's game preview? It's worth a closer look.)

GeoFitz4 gave us his short recap of the game:

Unfortunately, with the game only being available on the radio, it's hard to draw too many conclusions about how this game against the Panthers went. However, looking at the stats and possession numbers does tell something of a story.

The Point-Stamkos-Kucherov line had very good possession numbers with a 64.71 CF% which is about what you'd expect from that trio. They also had 70% of the shots on goal while on ice.

Palat-Johnson-Volkov though was, well, not good. The trio ended up with a 9.09 CF% and failed to get even a single shot on goal together at even strength. And before you ask, no: Dan Girardi was not the problem. The line was equally bad no matter which defensive pair was with them. They allowed two shots on goal each with Coburn-Sustr and with Sergachev-Stralman, while allowing one shot on goal with Koekkoek-Girardi. Their highest Corsi Against total (5) came with Coburn and Sustr.

When Volkov was swapped out with Kunitz towards the end of the game, the line picked it up and had three shots on goal and was a 100 CF%, though in a small sample.

While the eye test has looked good for Volkov, it does make me want to go back to previous pre-season games and see how his actual possession numbers held up and if we were fooling ourselves on how well he actually played or if this is just a sign that he's not ready for playing in the NHL, yet.

JR Steve, a Bolts fan and Raw Charge reader who attended the game, contributed this:

My take from tonight's game in South Florida: There was some to like and plenty not to like. The Bolts came out sloppy and were out-of-sync and uncoordinated. Florida came out ready for their home preseason opener and outplayed and out-chanced the Bolts badly.

Tampa was not making it difficult for Luongo or the Panthers through the first two periods. Before the Lightning knew it, it was Huberdeau, 2, and Bolts, 0. Vasy made several quality saves to keep the game close, including an incredible save diving across his crease to rob Barkov with his glove.

The Bolts finally started to wake up in the third and got on the board on a Cally tip off a Girardi shot from the point. Minutes later, though, Brinkley would give the Cats back the two-goal lead on the powerplay while Point sat in the box serving a bench minor for too many men. Kucherov got on the board, but it was not enough after Florida tacked on another to take it 4-2.

I thought Sergachev was a bit nervous to start but settled in and got plenty of ice tonight. He was the quarterback on the first power play unit all night and threw his body around. He got into a bit of a dust up with Mike Matheson of the Panthers, and the two continued to jaw at each, exchanging R-rated banter throughout their time in the box.

I was interested in seeing Volkov in person, and while he's a big kid, I didn't think he was overly impressive. He didn't look out-of-place, though. Girardi made a good diving play to break up a two-on-one in the third when the game was still close.

Kunitz was a non-factor in the game, as were Conacher and Bournival. It was good seeing Stamkos out there. While he doesn't seem to be yet at the level we are used to from him, I think it will come with time. As I said before, it took the Bolts until the third period to start getting their game together, and by then it was too late. Hopefully they can shake off the rust in their last two preseason games and start putting it together.

Canada picked up the Jake Dotchin story, but got no more out of him than Joe did. "Obviously it's hurting me," Dotchin told the Tampa Bay Times Monday. "I want to be in there. I want to play every night. I'm doing what I can right now, working hard in practice and when I get a chance to go I'll be ready to go." [TSN]

Is Brayden Point the new Vladdy? Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov. "I got to play some awesome hockey that I wasn't expecting to play," Point said. "It was a tough year missing the playoffs for the team, but for me, personally, just to play in the league was special." [Tampa Bay Times]

We are continuing to celebrate the Tacky Postcard Patch. (Don't get me wrong, I love it. Kitsch is so Florida.)

Is it Kucherov, Kucherov, and Kucherov? Tampa Bay Lightning: 3 keys to success in 2017-18. [Puck Prose]

The Prospects/Crunch


Also, we say farewell to Cam Darcy. Kalamazoo Wings Sign Cameron Darcy. "The Kalamazoo Wings have signed centerman Cameron Darcy to a contract for the 2017-18 season. Darcy, 23, is familiar with the Wings, as he was re-assigned to Kalamazoo by the Tampa Bay Lightning in February of last season. Upon his arrival, Darcy electrified the Wings’ lineup by tallying 25 points (5g-20a) in 20 regular-season games and 10 points (3g-7a) in seven playoff games." [Hockeyfights.com]

The City

USF business program acknowledges $5 million in support from Vinik family. "Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, along with his wife, Penny, and the team, helped launch USF’s dual-degree, sports-centric graduate program in 2012. It will now be called the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management program." [Tampa Bay Times]

The Sticky Parts of the Game

Recently, someone threatened the life of JT Brown online. Lexi LaFleur Brown took to Twitter to post this statement:

(If you want to see these vile threats, Christine Gunn reported them to Twitter over here.)

Sharks’ Ward, one of NHL’s few black players, may kneel for anthem. “I had no clue what the words meant until my parents educated me about what was going on in my surroundings. I was just a kid who fell in love with the game and picked up a hockey stick. I didn’t really look at it as color,” Ward said. “As I got older and looked across the locker rooms and dressings rooms, I realized I’m the only black kid in the whole arena." [Mercury News]

Sidney Crosby's Penguins Are Blowing it by Visiting Trump White House. "It's not surprising coming from a predominantly white Penguins team that plays in a predominantly white sport, but it's still disappointing." [Vice Sports]