Quick Strikes: Hedman’s biggest pet peeve is slow drivers

A Q&A with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, the Syracuse Crunch defeat the Providence Bruins, and Nikita Gusev wins a KHL award

The Bolts

The NHLPA did a Q&A with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. Interesting facts include his dislike of slow drivers, love of sushi, and fondness for the TV show Ray Donovan. [NHLPA]

The NHL Should Expand to 32 and No Further. “There are a variety of practical suitors for a new NHL market: Seattle, Houston, Kansas City, and Québec City, to name a few. But, whatever happens, I implore Gary Bettman to add a 32nd team and to do it fast.” [Raw Charge]

We are immensely proud to host a Spanish language version of the above article! La NHL Debe Expandir a 32 y no más. “Hay una variedad de lugares prácticos para un mercado nuevo en la NHL como: Seattle, Houston, Kansas City y Quebec City. Pase lo que pase, imploro a Gary Bettman que añada un 32ndo equipo rápidamente.” [Raw Charge]

“The 'Beat the Heat' event will include a free public ice skate from 2:15 P.M. until 4:15 P.M. More experienced hockey players will be able to participate in on-ice skills challenges including slap shot radar which measures puck speed and an obstacle course... Fans wishing to secure ice time can do so by signing up online.” [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Off-Season Game Plan: Tampa Bay Lightning. “They have more than enough talent and just need to figure out how to keep as much of it as possible while managing to stay under the salary cap. Could a team that missed the 2017 Playoffs be a Stanley Cup contender in 2018? When it comes to the Lightning, the answer is a clear yes.” [TSN]

Brian Boyle and his wife welcomed their second child! Congratulations, Boyler!

“Voting for the White Region in the Best of the Bolts' Round of 16 starts at noon on Tuesday, May 23 and ends at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, May 26. Each matchup is listed below and you can vote as many times as you'd like for your favorite play.” [Tampa Bay Lightning]

“Students at Roosevelt Elementary in Tampa got a nice surprise from the Tampa Bay Lightning Thunderbug on Wednesday. The visit was to honor the students for participating in their ‘Walk to School Wednesdays’ program... The program teaches students how to cross the street safely and aims to make drivers more aware of what’s going on around them.” [WFLA]

The Prospects

Calder Cup Playoffs: Syracuse Crunch defeat Providence Bruins 5-4. Crunch lead the Eastern Conference Finals series 2-1.

“The Crunch had a pretty good effort through most of the game with McKenna putting up a strong performance for most of the game. But as has been their problem at times this year and in the playoffs, it looked like they were going to collapse in the closing moments of the third period.” [Raw Charge]

Prospect Mitchell Stephens played in his first Crunch playoff game of the season last night. He is expected to transition to professional hockey (with either the Crunch or the Lightning) full time next year.

Head Coach Benoit Groulx felt Stephens performed well. [Syracuse Crunch]

Groulx: Stephens, like I mentioned before, he’s got skills, got speed. He’s huge to play in big games like the World Juniors - he’s a good player. For me, he’s been with us for a month now. He’s been practicing with the team. He’s been doing many good things for us. I thought he had a good game tonight.

Memorial Cup Tournament: Erie Otters lose 4-2 to the Windsor Spitfires

The Memorial Cup is the ultimate prize in junior hockey. Five Lightning prospects are playing in the tournament for two different teams. Erik Cernak, Anthony Cirelli, and Taylor Raddysh are members of the Erie Otters while Bokondji Imama and Mathieu Joseph play for the Saint John Sea Dogs.

“The Baby Bolts didn’t have huge games. Raddysh [#17 in yellow] had one goal and four shots, Cirelli [#22] had one assist and two shots, and Cernak [#14] had no points although he had some big defensive moments, but it wasn’t great on the back end overall for the Otters.” [Raw Charge]

Cirelli is ready to help the Otters capture a Memorial Cup. “A former captain in Oshawa, he boasts strong leadership skills and takes pride in hard work and preparation. He’s happy to do whatever is asked of him with the Otters. ‘They brought me here to help them win,’ Cirelli said. ‘I’m a veteran guy and I’ve got some experience, but this is Stromer’s [Dylan Strome’s] team and he’s an unbelievable captain for us. We’re a tight group and under his leadership we’re all working together.’” [Mastercard Memorial Cup]

Lightning prospect Nikita Gusev won a KHL award last night! Now it’s time to move to Tampa (please?)

The Game

Floridian Zach Solow named USHL Forward of the Year. “Solow, a native of Naples, FL, led the USHL in scoring this season with 69 points (18G, 51A) in 56 games. He also led the USHL in assists (51) and tallied at least one point in 46 of the 56 games he played.” [USHL]

“Craig Cunningham’s playing career may be over but his life in the game of hockey will continue as the Arizona Coyotes have hired him to serve as a pro scout. The 26-year-old Cunningham suffered cardiac arrest on the ice during warm-ups before a Nov. 19 game with the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate. At points it appeared Cunningham wasn’t going to make it, but he eventually pulled through. Part of Cunningham’s lower left leg, was amputated on Christmas Eve out of fear of infection.” [Puck Daddy]

“Slava Fetisov has accomplished many things in life. He’s won gold at the Olympics, World Championships, World Junior Championships, and the Canada Cup representing the Soviet Union, and lifted the Stanley Cup three times playing with the Detroit Red Wings and coaching with the New Jersey Devils. But now the Hockey Hall of Famer can add something unique to his already impressive resume. He’s a rapper.” [Puck Daddy]