Quick Strikes: Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov named two of the NHL Stars of the Week

It’s nice to have two out of three stars be from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bolts

More about this from Justin later, but the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are #1 and #2 for last week's 3 Stars of the Week. "Stamkos is the first player to average at least two points through his team's first nine games of a season since 2012-13, when Thomas Vanek accomplished the feat with the Buffalo Sabres (8-11-19 in 9 GP)." [NHL.com]

Did the Tampa Bay Lightning break Antti Niemi? Team puts struggling goalie Antti Niemi on waivers, recalls Casey DeSmith: "After giving up 16 goals in less than seven periods of work in his first three starts with the team, the 34-year-old Finnish goaltender was placed on waivers." [Trib Live]

Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret.' "Who's the guy who's blocking the shot at the end of the game? Who's the first guy who's going in there first on the forecheck? Who's the guy who took every D-zone faceoff and won down the stretch (in Thursday's win at Columbus)? Vlady," Cooper said. [Tampa Bay Times]

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov "86-ing'' the league. "If the cream rises to the top then 86 is dangerous to you if you have intolerance to lactose. Kucherov is carving out his new place among the whole league. When people begin talking about elite scorers, then those conversations must now include Nikita Kucherov." [Lightning Insider]

We're all still talking about the 11/7 with that revolving second line. Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mistmatches: "What makes it work this season is Johnson and Killorn are a pair of top-six forwards playing essentially on the Lightning's third line. Also, they have shared plenty of ice time with the other forwards during the last few years, so there is some familiarity." [TBO.com]

Community hockey news! Tampa Bay Lightning to build outdoor street hockey rink in Lakewood Ranch. “Over the next three-year period, we’re building 10 of these outdoor rinks in the continuous five-county area around Amalie Arena,” Lightning vice president of community hockey development Jay Feaster said. [Bradenton]

It's been night and day compared to last season. Lightning Show Early Signs of Improvement. "The Lightning aren’t just scoring first more often, they are also tallying more goals, period. Through nine games, they have scored 36 goals and yielded just 24. Last season’s team registered 27 goals for and 29 goals against in the same span." [THW]

Steven Stamkos’ two-point-per-game streak is not new territory
Pets and Pucks: A look at the Tampa Bay Lightning pet calendar
Tampa Bay Lightning: Should Mikhail Sergachev Stay Or Go Back To Juniors?

The Prospects/Syracuse Crunch

Crunch Corner: The Syracuse Crunch defeat Springfield. “The Syracuse Crunch were back on home ice to try and redeem themselves after an effort last week that resulted in just two out of a possible six points. Ben Groulx’s squad, although still very far from perfect, showcased heart and resiliency this past weekend against a talented Binghamton Devils team and a young Springfield Thunderbirds team. We knew it would take a while but the Crunch finally appear to be closing in on finding their identity.” [Raw Charge]

The Game

I adore this story so much. NHL Misery Index 1.0: (Carey) Price is not right in Montreal: "The Montreal fan base can relate to Price’s frustration. Montreal’s 1-6-1 start is its worst since 1941. The Habs have a minus-20 goal differential and rank last in scoring at 1.5 goals per game. They are 29th with a 4.13 goals-against average." [USA Today]

Vegas Is The Best Expansion Team In NHL History -- But the Golden Knights will still probably miss the playoffs. "The Knights’ six wins in seven tries are remarkable considering how their expansion brethren have fared." [FiveThirtyEight]

Jim Rutherford discusses the Penguins' slow start this season. Exhaustion? “We don’t get any easy games, that’s for sure,” Rutherford told Postmedia on Monday. “We get everybody’s A-game and over the long haul it works out better for us, because it pushes us during the season. Anyway, that’s part of winning.” [Toronto Sun]