Lightning Round: Three Stars of the Week

I think that Hagel kid is going to be okay.

It was another busy week for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they capped off a four-game week with their fourth straight weekend back-to-back series. Luckily, it’s also their last weekend of playing on both nights and they only have one more back-to-back the rest of the season. Overall, it was a good weekend as they won three of four, with two of those wins coming against a very solid New Jersey Devils squad.

After a brief cool spell, the top line is back to their old shenanigans with Brayden Point, Brandon Hagel, and Nikita Kucherov racking up points. Coach Cooper is rotating some players on the bottom lines to give his veterans a bit of a breather heading into playoff season and Steven Stamkos, back from a lower-body injury, has found some chemistry with his new linemates.

Steven Stamkos

3 Games, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 0.88 iXG, 9 iSCF

While he’s been a little banged up over the past couple of weeks, The Captain has found his scoring touch again with three goals over the last week. The newly formed line of Stamkos, Nick Paul, and Ross Colton seems to have clicked as they posted a 55% share of expected goals and 68.75% share of high-danger chances when they’re on the ice. Stamkos hit the 30-goal plateau for the 8th time in his career and continues to be a model of consistency when he’s healthy.  He’d have to get on a heater to hit 40+ goals for the sixth time in his 15-season career, but would you bet against him?

Mikhail Sergachev

4 Games, 0 Goals, 5 Assists, 25:10 ice time, 6 hits, 5 shots blocked

So far in the month of March, the only player to have more assists than Sergachev is the Stars’ Miro Heiskanen. The young Lightning defenseman, who has 13 helpers in March, is having a breakout offensive year and had another solid week with two multi-point games and five total assists over the four games. He’s improved his play in his own zone (wiping out Yegor Sharongovich on Sunday on a two-on-two rush was a masterclass in being physical without taking a penalty). Yes he still has the occasional head-scratching turnover, but he has taken a big leap in his overall play this year.

Brandon Hagel

4 Games, 4 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Game-Winning Goals, 1.42 iXG, 21 iCF

That hat trick on Saturday night was the result of a lot of hard work he’s put in over the last week or so. After fading a bit (1 goal and 1 assist from February 26th to March 11th) he’s back to finishing off his chances. He’s zoomed past his previous career highs in points and goals and should finish up with around 30 goals for the season and has a solid shot at 70 points. Not bad for someone heading into a possible bridge contract.

Lightning / NHL News

Devils beat Lightning [Raw Charge]

It’s tough to beat any team basically three times in a row, especially a solid playoff-bound team like the Devils. It was nice to see Nikita Kucherov hit the century mark in points again.

Ondrej Palat was the absolute soul of the Lightning squads during their recent run of success. The Lightning had a fitting tribute ready for his return to Amalie Arena.

Ondrej Palat returns to Tampa [Tampa Bay Times]

“It’s gonna be maybe a little emotional for me,” Palat said. “I spent a lot of time there and always when there’s a tribute for other players like (Tyler Johnson or Yanni Gourde), it’s awesome. You got chills when you watched it. So hopefully we can see something like that. But it’ll be cool, very cool.”

Coach Cooper Postgame Press Conference [Tampa Bay Lightning]

“I liked our first period and the first eight minutes of the second period.” He didn’t care for the “senseless” turnovers.

Photo Highlights from Alumni Weekend [Tampa Bay Lightning]

It was a fun weekend all around for fans and former players as they gathered to celebrate the induction of Phil Esposito, Vincent Lecavalier, and Marty St. Louis into the Hall of Fame.

The brackets are set and there will be some Lightning prospects to watch. Eamon Powell (Boston University), McKade Webster (University of Denver), Connor Kurth (University of Minnesota), and Dylan Duke (University of Michigan) will all be competing to make it to the Final Four in Tampa.

Dylan Duke scores Big-Ten Championship-winning goal [Michigan Daily]

You got to love it when your favorite team’s prospect scores a championship-winning goal. Dylan Duke did that for Michigan in the Big-Ten final against the University of Minnesota. He did it in true Dylan Duke-fashion as well, by wrapping a backhand home while sitting on the back of highly-touted prospect Brock Faber: