Lightning Round: at least the Maple Leafs lost

Defense Prospect Max Crozier signs ELC

The Tampa Bay Lightning turned the puck over enough for the Montreal Canadiens to beat them last night by a final score of 3-2. Aside from Jonathan Drouin scoring against his old team, the Lightning defenders struggled to move the puck up the ice with the pace of play to beat the Canadiens forecheckers. That was true in the first with Darren Raddysh, and it was true in the third period with Mikhail Sergachev. Their overall pace of play (or lack thereof) allowed the Habs to be more on top of them than they should’ve been. [Raw Charge]

“First period goals by Kirby Dach and Jonathan Drouin built a lead the Lightning could not overcome. Brayden Point made it close in the second before Mike Matheson extended it to 3-1. Pat Maroon cut it back to a 3-2 game late in the third period, but the Lightning couldn’t pull even.
“So I was a bit tuckered. I tell you that to tell you this. If I needed a visual representation of how I felt, it was the way the Lightning played the first period. They were, to be kind, a bit lethargic during the opening 20 minutes.”

But hey, at least the Leafs lost in similarly embarrassing fashion. It was a 7-2 loss for them at the hands of the New York Islanders. The Leafs didn’t allow any goals to former players, but all seven goals against came at even strength as a lack of cohesion inflicted a roster that has been getting tinkered with on a daily basis by the coaching staff. At some point they will settle on their lineup, but at the moment it’s a chaotic mess to muddle through. [PPP Leafs] The quotes are from my morning links article at the same site.

“The Leafs haven’t been playing their best lately, they’ve been very loose and that’s causing chances the other way. Namely, the Kämpf line has struggled massively. It’s probably worth looking into a rearrangement there.
“William Nylander and Sheldon Keefe have been upset with his game lately. I don’t think this is coming from a lack of effort, but frustration due to a lack of things working from his spot on the third line away from the other stars. Per NST, Nylander was 31-8 last night in shots and his line was the only plus on the night (1-0), but I think Nylander knows he could’ve gotten more scoring done out of the offense he generated.”

So, after an embarrassing loss two different ways for both the Leafs and the Lightning, nothing has changed in the playoff “race”. The Leafs still hold a three point advantage with two more games to play down the stretch.

In brighter news, the Lightning signed 2019 fourth round pick defenseman Max Crozier to a two-year entry-level contract beginning next season. Crozier will be on a PTO till the end of the season with the Syracuse Crunch after finishing his senior year at Providence College as their captain. Crozier isn’t eligible to be called up or play in the playoffs this year as his contract was signed after the deadline and it doesn’t kick in until next year.

The Lightning were going to lose Crozier’s rights in August had they left him unsigned, but he seemingly has done enough to warrant a look at the pro level. We will see what he can do down the stretch for the Crunch. If we have another Nick Perbix on our hands, he’ll need to be on the first pair within a few weeks. That said, it’s not a bad thing if that happens next year for the almost-23-year-old. He has time.

The biggest news in the NHL yesterday was the announcement that Fanatics will be the jersey partner starting in 2024. I don’t know anything about the jersey-making process for players, but I assume they all come from the same suppliers (sweatshops?) and are just badged with whatever logos they need to be in? This is Fanatics first major sports jersey sponsorship.

Brian Elwell was a player and coach for the Syracuse Blazers of the EHL in the 60s and 70s and led a decades-long effort to bring the AHL back to Syracuse, which happened in 1994-95 with the Syracuse Crunch and Howard Dolgan the owner. Elwell passed away at 79 from lung cancer. Read his obituary below.