Quick Strikes: Brayden Point joins Team Canada for World Championships

Point joins Cooper at the IIHF World Championships, the Syracuse Crunch rout the Utica Comets 7-2, and Mathieu Joseph and Bokondji Imama advance to the QMJHL semi-finals.

The Bolts

Our very own iActium did a deep dive into the data to understand what happened to the Tampa Bay Lightning this season. Was it an aberration or the start of a worrisome trend? “If there is one term that sums up the Lightning’s season, however, it would be: ‘inconsistent.’ The purpose of this article is to look at the Lightning’s year and see what went wrong.” [Raw Charge]

Steven Stamkos has high praise for Victor Hedman. “We all know what Heddy can do on the ice. He’s one of the best defensemen in the world. We’re lucky to have him. He took on more of a leadership role and I think that helped his game too. He was counted on more, relied upon more. He stepped up.” [Raw Charge]

“Coach Jon Cooper will have at least one familiar face on his Team Canada roster for next month's World Championships. Rookie center Brayden Point, 21, will play for Canada, one of the first few names released for the roster. It's been one heck of a year for Point, who surprirsed many - including himself - by making the Lightning out of camp. Then, as a first-year pro, Point was arguably one of the team's most consistent players, with 18 goals, finishing the season as No. 1 center due to injuries.” [Tampa Bay Times]

Point got his first NHL-induced scar earlier this season - a cut to his upper lip that required 30 stitches. “They didn't put me back in the game, but I would have played. It can't change your mindset on the ice. You just can't think about the bad things that can happen on the ice. You just play and let that all go, and if it ends up happening you just pray that everything goes all right. It's when you're thinking and trying to play it safe, that's when you're really in danger.” [ESPN]

Point also made Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts column this week, joining the likes of Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman as players that Friedman considered when casting his ballots for the annual NHL awards. Point’s name made into the Friedman’s Calder conversation, Kucherov came up for the Hart, and Hedman appeared among the Norris contenders. [Sportsnet]

For the first time in four years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are not in the playoffs. “Lightning fans had grown accustomed to loving playoff hockey over the past few seasons too. Hopefully, the Bolts' one-year absence is a blip rather than the start of a trend.” [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The Prospects

Do you miss watching the Tampa Bay Lightning? Never fear. Many of the players we met this season are back with the Syracuse Crunch which routed the Utica Comets 7-2 last night. “It was a big win for the Crunch who gained ground on the idle Toronto Marlies. Syracuse now trails them by one point for first place in the division.” [Raw Charge]

Mathieu Joseph netted an assist as the Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the Val-d’Or Foreurs 7-1 to sweep the series and advance to the QMJHL semi-finals. Bokondji Imama was held off the score sheet.

The Game

Former Florida Panthers coach lands a new gig. “The Vegas Golden Knights have their first head coach in franchise history, and it’s Gerard Gallant. Owner Bill Foley had announced a press conference for Thursday at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas. Speculation was that their first coach would be revealed. But Canadian media like Darren Dreger of TSN reported en masse that the coach would be Gallant.” [Puck Daddy]

Ken Hitchcock isn’t retiring after all. “Reports this morning from Tim Cowlishaw, and then later seconded by Elliotte Friedman, indicate that Ken Hitchcock is going to be named the next head coach of the Dallas Stars. The announcement could come as early as tomorrow morning.” [Defending Big D]

“The Islanders made their first major decision of the offseason, removing the interim tag from coach Doug Weight and making him the head man for next season.” [Lighthouse Hockey]

After his stint with the Los Angeles Kings this season, Jarome Iginla wants to stay in the league. “I know we didn’t make (the playoffs) but until our last four every game felt like a big deal and it was a big deal in the standings,” he said. “It was exciting and I would like to keep playing.” [Puck Daddy]

Patrice Bergeron tries to humanize the enemy writes a heartfelt article about how much the playoffs mean to the Boston Bruins. “The cracked ribs, the cartilage, even the punctured lung. I’d do it all again in a second. I’d do it again because I had learned from others the sacrifices you need to make as a team in order to win in the playoffs. I’d do it again because my teammates and I knew what it felt like to hoist the Cup. That feeling of celebrating a lifelong ambition and the bond it creates is something that’s truly indescribable. But most of all, I’d do it all again because I know a pain that hurts so much more than any of those injuries: The pain of not making the playoffs at all.” [The Players’ Tribune]

Oilers fans are really enjoying the return of post-season hockey to Edmonton. The sea of orange combined with a beautiful rendition of the Canadian national anthem is pretty spectacular.