Quick Strikes: No NHL hockey today, but there’s plenty of reading to catch up on!

Read up on Stamkos, the Bolts equipment staff, Leafs, Habs, and Oilers!

The Bolts

As Around the Atlantic continues, Alan takes a look at the Ottawa Senators. I gotta say, things look pretty bleak up there. [Raw Charge]

Spectacular incompetence is Eugene Melnyk’s specialty. He’s prolific in this space. Botched arena deals. Entrusting the organization to an overmatched General Manager. Running the front office on a bake sale budget. Saying the wrong thing at every opportunity. Failing to respond appropriately when members of his organization face criminal charges. The team being bad is almost an afterthought.

The Tampa Bay Lightning equipment staff is the best. Just a bunch of great people. Read more about them in part one of Bryan Burns’ three-part Bye Week series on the staff. [NHL dot com]

Berger is a Philadelphia native and comes to the Lightning from Providence, where he was the head equipment manager of the Bruins AHL team. Prior to that, he worked with the Florida Everblades in the ECHL, where he got to know Razor and Bubba when the Lightning would travel to Germain Arena for their annual training camp week in Naples.

For The Athletic subscribers, Joe Smith wrote a thing about how captain Steven Stamkos is playing the best hockey of his life. [The Athletic]

Stamkos is feeling it, playing his best hockey in years heading to his sixth All-Star Game this weekend in San Jose. It’s not just Stamkos’ scoring, though his 26 goals are just one shy of last year’s total, putting him on pace for just his second 40-goal season since racking up 60 in 2011-12. That was when he was 21. Stamkos’ 14 goals in December were more than any month in his career, even that 60-goal season.

The Prospects

Alex shared a great thing yesterday: the first half of the Syracuse Crunch’s season in gallery form. It’s a nice little thing to scroll through for sure. Raw Charge]

“Crystal Clear”

Hey, it’s the new guy! Check out Jan Rutta’s first interview since joining the Crunch (he was injured up until now).

John Quenneville got suspended for one game after an altercation against the Syracuse Crunch. It’s not that important, and I wasn’t going to share it, but then I thought “why not?” [The AHL]

Quenneville was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 28.1 (supplementary discipline). He will miss Binghamton’s game tonight (Jan. 23) at Rochester.

Poker night!

.......uhh why does Boris Katchouk look like a villian from the Old West that got transported to 2019?

The Crunch will be holding “Irish Night” on January 25th in support of the St. Patrick Hunger Project. Please support if you can! [Syracuse Crunch]

Crunch fans are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to the game to be donated to the St. Patrick’s Hunger Project. All nonperishable food items collected will be distributed to the Interreligious Food Consortium and distributed to local pantries. Bins to collect donations will be stationed in the main lobbies on both sides of the War Memorial Arena.

The Game

It was the last regular season game in the NHL before the All Star break for two Atlantic division teams. Shall we go through both contests? It won’t take long.

First up, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Washington Capitals 6-3. Nazem Kadri scored a hat trick, William Nylander got three assists, and Nikita Zaitsev scored his first goal of the season. For the Caps, it wasn’t nearly as fun. They head into the break with a 0-5-2 record. The break couldn’t have come faster. [Pension Plan Puppets]

Alex Ovechkin did get a goal in the game that put him in some elite company.

The Montreal Canadiens had to employ a dumb rule to win this game, but they did in fact enter the All Star break with a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Galchenyuk thought he scored late in the game, but a non-factor offside call brought the whole play back, erasing the goal entirely. [Montreal Gazette]

Former Canadien Alex Galchenyuk, who was quiet for most of the game, thought he had tied the score with 3:39 to play in the third period. But Claude Julien challenged the goal and the replay showed the Coyotes were offside on the play.

Onto Edmonton, who I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about over the next week without games. Lots of media in that city for random 80’s NHLers within the team to talk to.

First up: ESPN talks about Peter Chiarelli’s “messy” legacy in Alberta. [ESPN]

He signed hulking winger Milan Lucic, who played for Chiarelli in Boston, to a seven-year contract in July 2016. Slow and lumbering at a time when the NHL treasures speed, he has just 15 goals in his past 131 games, while his contract was rich with bonus money and trade protection.

Next, Mark Spector (who must be gutted to see someone he carried so much water for fail so famously): Things are toxic in Edmonton [Sportsnet]

The atmosphere around this team is poisonous, a toxic stirred by an “emperor has no clothes” scenario in which every layer of personnel — and the fan base — realized the mess Chiarelli has created here.

The team is capped out, with the bottom half of its roster laden with over-priced, under-producing players — many with plenty of term remaining on their contracts. Ryan Spooner, who played 6:56 Tuesday, has become a metaphor for Chiarelli’s trade acumen, when he began a transaction tree by dealing Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, then moved Strome for Spooner.

And finally, a take from Toronto: It’s time for someone to save Connor McDavid from Edmonton. [The Star]

“We’re not going to be in a real rush to get a general manager,” Oilers president Bob Nicholson said at a news conference in Edmonton. “We have to get the right one. And if that takes us some time ... because we have to look at all parts of this organization. I want to emphasize again, we got some real good players. We got some real good staff. But there’s something in the water here in Edmonton that we don’t have right. And we got to get that figured out.”

Highlight of the Night: Check out this assist from Nick Robertson in the CHL Top Prospects Game!