Quick Strikes: Lightning prospects play for Calder Cup and Memorial Cup

Vladislav Namestnikov talks about playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Syracuse Crunch advance to the Calder Cup Finals, and three Lightning prospects battle for the Memorial Cup tonight.

The Bolts

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov gave an interview in Russian discussing his experience with Team Russia, life in Tampa, and the dynamic between GM Steve Yzerman, coach Jon Cooper, and the players. We’re lucky to have translators on staff to help us understand what he said. “Our arena is full at every game. Tickets are sold out a few days before the games... The atmosphere is crazy even at regular games, to say nothing of playoffs.” [Raw Charge]

J.T. Brown is enjoying using a gaming platform to engage with fans. “The question I get the most is, ‘Is (coach Jon) Cooper as calm and cool as he seems when he's doing interviews?’” Brown said. What's his answer? “Always yes,” Brown says, laughing. [Tampa Bay Times]

“This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever. On the surface, it seems crazy, Tampa Bay parting with wing Jonathan Drouin. It's also complicated.” [Tampa Bay Times]

Now let’s check in with the players to see how they’re spending the summer. Here are some of their activities, listed from most glamorous to least glamorous.

Alex Killorn and Andrej Sustr are celebrating their epic bromance at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Qualification #F1 🏁

A post shared by Andrej Sustr (@asustr62) on

Ryan Callahan is doing a classic summer activity for hockey players - enjoying a few rounds of golf.

Ondrej Palat is moving piles of dirt for some unknown reason. You do you, Pally.


A post shared by #18 Ondrej Palat (@pally_18) on

The Prospects

The Syracuse Crunch defeated the Providence Bruins 3-1 to advance to the Calder Cup Finals

Rookie defenseman Ben Thomas (#26) opened the scoring less than a minute into the game. Cory Conacher (#89) added the game winning goal as well as an empty netter to secure the Crunch’s berth into the Calder Cup Finals.

“I kind of blacked out,” Conacher said of his initial reaction after scoring late in the third period. “All I remember is seeing the puck coming right to me in the slot and I was on the right side. I can’t even tell you who shot the puck to be honest. It was just one of those moments where you see the puck and you see the net and you just try to get everything you can on it.” [Raw Charge]

The players are (understandably) very excited about playing for the Calder Cup.

The Crunch will battle the Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate Grand Rapid Griffins. This series should just add more fuel to the fire of the Tampa-Detroit rivalry.

Memorial Cup Final: Erie Otters vs. Windsor Spitfires tonight at 7 PM

The Memorial Cup is the ultimate prize in junior hockey and three Lightning prospects will attempt to win it tonight - Erik Cernak, Anthony Cirelli, and Taylor Raddysh are all members of the Erie Otters.

You can watch the kids battle for the Memorial Cup tonight at 7:00 PM EST on the NHL Network (United States), Sportsnet (Canada), or TVA Sports (Canada-French language).

“Anthony Cirelli has been making a name for himself in junior by scoring big goals. He potted the overtime winner in the 2015 Memorial Cup final to lift Oshawa over Kelowna. Acquired by Erie in a mid-season trade, Cirelli also scored in extra time in this year's OHL championship, pushing the Otters over Mississauga into the national tournament. He has eight points in his last four games. ‘With Anthony, his experience winning a championship creates a lot of comments on the team,’ said Otters coach Kris Knoblauch.” [CBC]

The Game

Harnarayan Singh and his Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi crew are a true underdog story as unlikely faces in hockey media. “The show has value in showing that as a society, it doesn't matter what our differences are—we can make it work, and we can have fun with it,” says Singh. [Vice Sports]

Five big moves made the Predators into a Stanley Cup scoring threat. “Nashville is no longer a defense-only franchise.” [SB Nation]

“The Vegas Golden Knights will get their first up-close look at the prospects available in their first NHL Draft at next week's scouting combine. The team will send general manager George McPhee and director of amateur scouting Scott Luce to the combine in Buffalo, where the team hopes to get a better feel on who to select sixth overall. ‘We want high-character, low-maintenance type players. It'll be a good learning curve for the entire staff going to the combine and representing our organization.’” [TSN]