Quick Strikes: Tampa Bay Lightning swept by New Jersey Devils in season series

meanwhile the Syracuse Crunch are quietly becoming an model franchise

The Bolts

The New Jersey Devils beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Ondrej Palat scoring his first goal since returning from injury in the loss. [Raw Charge]

The first goal came at the end of the period with rookie Nico Hischier scoring on a rebound in front of the Lightning net. On the play, the Bolts had positioning with Braydon Coburn matched one on one with Hischier. Coburn wasn’t able to affect the young center at all and the puck ended up in the net.

As the second wild card team in the East, the New Jersey Devils are the team most likely to play the Tamp Bay Lightning. Here are three things we learned about our potential opponent. [NHL dot com]

The Lightning had 70 shots attempts and 36 shots on goal, above their average of 32.6 shots per game. By contrast, New Jersey had just 49 shot attempts. But every time the Bolts seemed to have a good look at goal, the Devils were there to get a skate or body part in the way and they deflected a number of shots away from the target with active sticks.

Sometimes it’s good to see the view from the other side of the ice. Specifically, what they did to stop the Bolts and limit them to only one goal. [All About the Jersey]

Nikita Kucherov is currently the league’s leading scorer and Steve Stamkos is in the top-ten in points too. With J.T. Miller centering both of them, this line from Tampa Bay figured to do a lot of damage to the Devils tonight. They did not. John Hynes made a point of it to have Travis Zajac, Stefan Noesen (re-inserted into the lineup in place of Drew Stafford), and Blake Coleman match up against them as much as possible. This worked out quite well for the Devils in 5-on-5 play.

Captain Steven Stamkos got hit in the head hard by a errand puck during warm-ups in the game previous, Has the incident changed the team’s thoughts on wearing helmets at all times? [Tampa Bay Times]

Hedman has gone helmetless for about 500 games, at the urging of his mentor and fellow Swede Mattias Ohlund.

”You’ve got to listen to the old papa bear,” Hedman quipped. “He told me to take it off, and I did, and that’s how it’s been since.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning are good. The argument of whether they are a special team or not might not feel popular because of unmet expectations, but it’s still there. It’s time we appreciate how lucky we’ve been. [Tampa Bay Times]

Tampa Bay is two points shy of tying the franchise season record (108). It has scored more goals than any Lightning team, and that’s saying something given the franchise’s previous firepower (Marty St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards).

This is a first-place team on a 12-2-1 stretch entering Saturday. Yet, there’s a feeling of concern. Captain Steven Stamkos said the other day there has been “negativity” around the team, internally and externally.

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch played a hard-fought game and were rewarded with a 2-0 victory. Connor Ingram making 23 saves for the shutout with Mitchell Stephens and Erik Cernak scoring for the Crunch. [Auburn Pub]

“The way that this series has been against Utica throughout the year, it’s becoming more and more like playoff hockey. Tonight was a classic example of playoff hockey,” Stephens said. “It was 0-0 going into the third. For us to bear down and come away with that win. … It goes to show we’re working for 60 minutes.”

Alexey Lipanov’s OHL season and junior hockey career ended a few days ago after the Sudbury Wolves failed to make the playoffs. As a result, he has been called up to the Syracuse Crunch. For those worrying about contracts, I believe the first year of Lipanov’s three year deal will not expire this season as his contract is able to “slide” for it’s first two years (if he is not in the NHL).

Oh, and he made his AHL debut last night, ending with a stat line 0-0-0-0-0. Not the most memorable debut, but it definitely could’ve been worse.

Lightning prospect Otto Somppi left game 2 of Halifax’s first-round series against Baie-Comeau holding his left hip. He will sit out game 3 due to the injury but is not ruled out for any extended period of time.

In classic junior hockey style, the Kelowna Rockets jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to give it all back, only to retake it again, and eventually lose 9-7 to the Tri-City Americans. [Kelowna Rockets]

Nolan Yaremko slashed Dillon Dube off the opening draw to give the Rockets an early power play, and after being shutout in game one, the Rockets opened things up early. Kole Lind(1) one timed a pass on the power play from Cal Foote and 36 seconds into game two the Rockets were up 1-0. Just 15 seconds later Kyle Topping(1) made it 2-0, scoring with a snap shot on a solo rush after a nice delay just across the Tri-City blueline. At the 3:00 mark Cal Foote(1) made it 3-0 Kelowna on a one-timer thanks to Liam Kindree’s cross ice pass.

The Game

The Anaheim Ducks’ off day was pretty wild. They moved three times without playing a single game and after plummeting down the wild card spots earlier in the day, wake up to see themselves third in the Pacific. [Reddit]

Colorado beat Vegas to takeover the WC1 slot and put Anaheim in WC2.

St. Louis then beat Columbus to takeover the WC2 slot, leaving Anaheim out of playoff position.

Los Angeles lost in regulation, giving Anaheim the games played tiebreaker for 3rd in the Pacific, which supercedes the Kings’ ROW tiebreaker.

The Cagary Flames still can’t find a goalie. Have they tried Miikka Kiprusoff again? [Matchsticks and Gasoline]

That brings us to the team M.V.P. in Mike Smith. Smith turned heads when he was traded for and then turned those heads again with his play this season. Prior to being injured in the final seconds of Calgary’s 3-2 victory over the Islanders Smith was the Flames rock. He was 23-16-6 and he was clearly carrying the Flames. Without his play they aren’t even sniffing the playoffs, but once he was cleared to play again it all fell apart.

Highlight of the Night: grading William Nylander’s goal on a curve because Toronto played Detroit and Detroit is..well..poop.