Quick Strikes: Lightning lose in Nashville, Syracuse makes moves, and another coach gets fired

Catch up on the NHL news from yesterday.

The Bolts

The Lightning lost to the Predators last night 3-2. Aside from a terrible second period, the Lightning looked pretty good. But that 20 minutes was enough to determine the outcome. Nashville and Pekka Rinne in particular were too good last night for the Bolts to pull of one of their patented comebacks.

The Lightning didn’t deserve to win this game. An atrocious first two periods do not get forgiven because the team got chances at the end of the third period. They were playing behind the whole game and not only did the period by period stats show it, but the final score does as well.

If you’re looking for some positives as a palate cleanser for that recap, check out the latest 10 Game Report. Despite the loss last night and some concerning trends with the team recently, there are still plenty of things to be excited about. And one of those things is the play of Adam Erne.

We need to talk more about Adam Erne though. He has been outstanding this season. In limited minutes, he’s doing everything. He’s scoring. He’s driving play. He has positive impacts on offense and defense. It looks like this might be his breakout season and if he keeps playing like this, he’s going to force the coaches to find more minutes for him.

The Prospects

The Lightning assigned Jonne Tammela to the Orlando Solar Bears yesteday. Tammela was a 4th round pick in 2015. Over the last two seasons, he’s played 36 games in Syracuse and scored 9 points. With the Crunch having so much forward depth again this season, sending Tammela to Orlando gives him a chance to play more minutes and hopefully, find some success. His skill level should play well in the ECHL and he could immediately become make an impact for the Solar Bears.

The decision to send Tammela to Orlando could be related to Gabriel Dumont’s pending return to the Crunch.

With Michael Bournival returning the lineup recently and Dumont nearly ready, the Crunch are finally getting healthy. They’ve been fortunate to have the forward depth to deal with the injuries but they’d probably like to go a few weeks without missing a major player.

Orlando had a rough week picking up just three of a possible eight points.

After a big win over South Carolina last Saturday, the Orlando Solar Bears headed north to New England to continue their five game road trip, facing opponents outside the South Division for the first time this season.

Facing a tough four games in five days stretch is one thing. Having to do so with your starting goaltender suddenly recalled to the AHL is another.

With Martin Oullete called up to Syracuse to replace Eddie Pasquale who was called up to Tampa because of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s injury, the team struggled. Hopefully, the addition of Tammela will give them a bump offensively to help compensate for the loss of Oullete.

The League

The St. Louis Blues announced the firing of head coach Mike Yeo last night. The Blues currently sit in 30th place and apparently, that isn’t good enough for the front office. Craig Berube takes over as the interim coach, which hardly seems like an upgrade.

This will inevitably lead to speculation that the Blues will go after Joel Quenneville who was recently fired by the Blackhawks. He coached the Blues from 1996-2004 and reached the playoffs every season prior to being fired in the spring of 2004.

The Penguins have started the season poorly. Their record puts them among the worst teams in the league through the first 6+ weeks of the season. We saw this from them a few years ago and all they did was turn around and win the Cup so no one is writing them off yet. But historically, starts this bad haven’t ended well for them.

It is the 15th time since 1980 the team has had seven wins or fewer through the first 18 games. The track record of the previous teams in this situation is ... not great.

Out of the 14 previous teams only four of them ended up making the playoffs that season, and one of those four teams was the 1980-81 team that was playing in a league where all but five teams made the playoffs (they ended up winning just 30 games that season). Five of those teams experienced a coaching change at some point during the season.

The Rangers are better than most expected this season. Their young players are already making an impact and their veterans are showing they still have something left in the tank. The coaching change appears to be an improvement over whatever was happening at the end of the Alain Vigneault era. Fredrick Claesson is among the players showing he deserves more ice time and can be part of this new version of the Rangers.

Let me preface everything that comes next by saying, I know Claesson’s body of work in a Rangers’ sweater is just eight games. While it’s eight games of work from a defender who was signed nonchalantly on July 1 to be a depth defender, it’s still important to look at what he’s done in the context of how it aligns with Quinn’s philosophy, and why scratching him would send the wrong message.

The Islanders have been riding hot percentages to start the season. Their record is better than they deserve and they’ll likely come crashing back to reality at some point. One of the stranger parts of their very strange season is who is doing the scoring. Before the season, it looked like this would have to be the Mat Barzal show for this team to have any success. Instead, they’re getting scoring from all their other centers including a familiar name to Lightning fans.

One of the most unbelievable stats surrounding the New York Islanders relates to (a) three centers scoring at great clips at 5v5 and (b) none of the centers is Mathew Barzal. In fact, when we look at primary point rates this season one-third of Metro forwards in the top nine are NYI centers Casey Cizikas, Brock Nelson and Valtteri Filppula.

The folks at Jewels from the Crown have been giving thanks all month for their team. Yesterday, they thanked the last remaining healthy goalies in their organization. Less than two months into their season, they’ve already gone way down the depth chart and are relying on Peter Budaj and Cal Petersen. But that doesn’t make them any less worthy of thanks.

So, thank you to Peter Budaj for providing some good times and fun storylines in the 2015-16 season, and going above and beyond anyone’s expectations. And thanks for being up for another round of the same this year. All reports indicate that Budaj is a consummate professional, a player about whom no one has a bad word to say, and so having that sort of calming presence and experience around for Petersen is great for the team and for Petersen’s development.

Nate Schmidt returned to the Vegas Golden Knights’ lineup on Sunday after his twenty game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. The early returns for positive and he appeared ready to get to back to being a force on the blue line. He was underappreciated in Washington before being exposed in the expansion draft. Since going to Vegas, he’s been great and is showing signs that he’ll continue to be that.

Schmidt was suspended for the first 20 games of the Golden Knights’ sophomore campaign for violating the NHL’s Performance Enhancing Substances Program. In Vegas’ 20 games without Schmidt, the Knights managed a record of 8-11-1, ranking them seventh in the Pacific Division.

However, with Schmidt back in the lineup, Vegas managed to replicate the dominant play exhibited in its inaugural season. And his presence alone had a lot to do with the Knights picking up a valuable pair of points on the road against the Edmonton Oilers.

Highlight of the Night

Artemi Panarin hiding behind the net and then jumping out at the puck carrier like a character in a haunted house is exactly the kind of thing we need more of in hockey. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for him this time. But he better not let that discourage him. I need to see this executed successfully at least once before the end of the season.