Quick Strikes: The Lightning bring some heat to Winnipeg

Do you know how hard it is to come up with a headline for the daily links all the time?

The Bolts

Let’s talk about the TRUE game of the week — tonight’s Tampa Bay Lightning match against the Winnipeg Jets. Will Anton Stralman be back in the lineup tonight? If I’m JBB, I’d probably keep Erik Cernak up another game or two and really let Stralman rest. But luckily the goaltending choice is a no-brainer.

What are Canadians thinking about tonight’s game?

I like how this guy thinks: Lightning, Jets meet in December showdown [Big News Network]

It’s only December, but Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place could be a preview of next spring’s Stanley Cup final.

Tampa Bay vs. Winnipeg Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 12-16-2018 [Winners and Whiners]

Tampa Bay comes into the weekend ranked first in the NHL in goals per game at 4.00 per contest and second in the league on the power play at 29.3 percent. They also rank eighth in the NHL in goals against at 2.79 per game and they’ve managed to kill off 83.9 percent of their penalties so far this season (6th in the NHL).

GAME DAY: Five keys to Jets vs Lightning [London Free Press]

It’s usually a highly entertaining battle when these former Southeast Division rivals get together. Late rallies are not uncommon and both clubs are playing well of late. The Lightning have won eight consecutive games and lead the NHL in points (51) and goal-differential (plus-42). The Jets have won eight of their past nine games, the lone blemish being a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. There will be plenty of firepower on display in this one and the pace figures to be ramped up.

Our pal Eugene took a deeper look at the Cernak situation.

Lightning’s Depth Is Causing Headaches [THW]

So, while it would be easiest for the Lightning to send Cernak back to the AHL, it would be the wrong choice. He has made an immediate impact on the team and has both the physical build and hockey IQ to continue improving in the NHL. Sending him back now would not only risk hurting his development but would cause a needless self-inflicted loss in the line-up.

Here are a few more pieces breaking down that game against that other Canadian team.

Mishkin’s Musings: The Bolts are imposing their will on the opposition [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Then there’s the intangible quality of “hunger”. The Lightning forwards have been relentless in their puck pursuit and puck retrieval. In the most simple of terms, they’ve wanted the puck more than the opponent. Add that hunger to their speed, skill, decision-making and execution and the result spells trouble for the opposition. Especially when all four forward lines are doing it shift after shift.

Is this the Lightning’s most complete team yet? [Tampa Bay Times]

”The group has found a way to win different ways to win,” Cooper said. “Aside from (Thursday), where we won and it was different in the sense that our goaltender had to win it for us, I don’t find that we’ve always had to rely on our goaltender this year. Whether it’s been a tight checking game, a wide-open game, a special teams game, the guys have found a way.”

How Ryan McDonagh could push the Lightning over the top [Tampa Bay Times]

Every time Ryan McDonagh tried to make powerful and quick first strides, an abdominal injury held him back. Hastily reaching top speed meant pain. Skating became a chore for a defenseman who describes it as his greatest strength. The injury forced him to play conservative more often than he wanted. This was McDonagh’s reality when he came to Tampa via trade from the Rangers late last season. It’s his reality no longer. He’s healthy this season.

The Prospects

Saturday’s match info:

Syracuse Crunch blanked for first time this season [Syracuse.com]

The Syracuse Crunch suffered its first shutout of the season in a 4-0 loss to the Laval Rocket today at Place Bell.

The regulation loss snaps an eight-game road points streak and moves the Crunch to 15-7-2-0 on the season. Syracuse still holds a 2-1 lead in the six-game season series against Laval.

Friday’s match info:

The Game

Ever just feel like not showing up to work?

Sabres suspend Patrik Berglund indefinitely for failing to report to the team [CBS Sports]

The 30-year-old center had been sidelined with what coach Phil Housley deemed an illness in recent days, missing the Sabres’ last two games. But now, just five months after he landed in Buffalo as part of a blockbuster trade for Ryan O’Reilly, Berglund has been disciplined for apparently avoiding the team, as reported by The Canadian Press.

Farewell from all of us, Tampa Bay Times writer Tom Jones! Many thanks from the bloggers at Raw Charge. We’ve read and linked to your pieces often over the years.