Tampa Bay Lightning

PHT Morning Skate: Charitable beards and young Mike Babcock

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Even if you’re one of those cold souls who think that playoff beards are played out – really? – this story should warm your heart a bit: the Washington Capitals’ (copyrighted!) Beard-a-Thon raised more than $30K for the American Special Hockey Association. (Capitals)

Want to get your mind blown a little bit? Check out these photos of young and very young Mike Babcock. (BarDown)

Former WWE star CM Punk’s passion for the Chicago Blackhawks is no secret, but you can find out more about his fandom here. (The Hockey News)

Alex Killorn believes that his mom is more impressed with his degree than his NHL career. Well, it is from Harvard. (Tampa Bay Times)

More on Joel Quenneville’s decision to go with “fresh legs.” (CSNChicago.com)

The “ripple effect” of Babcock’s contract. (Sportsnet)

Clearing the defensive zone might not be so clearly beneficial. (Jen LC)

Bolts say no update on Carle (undisclosed) after Stepan collision

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To nobody’s surprise, the Lightning weren’t offering much in the way of a status report for defenseman Matt Carle, who was knocked out of Wednesday’s OT win over the Rangers following a collision with Derek Stepan.

“No update,” head coach Jon Cooper said on Thursday. “What’s the line? Day to day, but then again, aren’t we all?”

Here’s a replay of the injury:

Carle, 30, had appeared in all 16 of Tampa Bay’s playoff games prior to getting hurt, and was averaging 16:35 TOI per night. The Bolts are relatively well equipped to deal with his loss, should Carle be out any length of time; Cooper dressed seven d-men on Wednesday — as he has on numerous occasions this postseason — and has Mark Barberio waiting in reserve if need be.

Flyers won’t trade Del Zotto, but ‘something will have to give’ on crowded blue line

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After adding Yevgeni Medvedev to the mix yesterday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall knows he’s going to have to do “something” about all the defensemen he’s got.

As in, he knows he can’t keep all of them. Especially not with a bunch of talented young blue-liners waiting in the wings.

Here’s how the situation looks, courtesy generalfanager:

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Hextall said yesterday that he plans to re-sign and keep Michael Del Zotto, so we can take the 24-year-old off the trade list.

Meanwhile, Andrew MacDonald may not have a market whatsoever, given he’s signed through 2020 and hasn’t exactly shone since joining the Flyers.

Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann are pending UFAs, so their trade value is automatically limited. Perhaps there’s still a GM out there who believes Schenn, 25, has good potential. Then again, maybe not.

Nick Schultz has a reasonable contract and would have some trade value. But do the Flyers have anyone to step in and reliably do all the dirty work that he does? Remember that they don’t have Braydon Coburn anymore.

Mark Streit may be their most valuable trade chip. He’s 37, so it’s not like he’s going to be part of the long-term future in Philly. And he can still produce offensively, as evidenced by the 52 points he put up this season, the third most on the team.

The problem with trading Streit is that there are still expectations for the current roster, as Ed Snider made perfectly clear. And with all those talented, young defenseman in the system, might Streit provide a good role model?

“We’re going to have to do something,” Hextall said, per the Daily News. “Yevgeni we thought was a real good, solid upgrade on defense and was someone we couldn’t let go by. But yeah, something will have to give here.”

What’s wrong with Lundqvist?

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You don’t often see Henrik Lundqvist this dejected. Then again, you don’t often see the New York Rangers’ franchise netminder allow 12 goals in two very important games.

If you ask former NHL goalie Brian Boucher, the Tampa Bay Lightning are making Lundqvist look human. Watch as he breaks down which of Tampa’s six goals from Game 3 might have been on him, and which ones may have come down to bad luck:

At the end of that video, you can see a dejected Lundqvist talk about the overtime game-winner and his struggles in general. One could argue that he’s rattled … or at least exhausted.

(Of course, it’s interesting to note that Ben Bishop’s more or less gotten off the hook after looking shaky in his own right in Game 3.)

As Lundqvist notes, it’s on him and his team. As this video dictates, the Rangers have gotten away from the disciplined style that got them this far:

It’s uncommon for the Rangers to give up so many chances, but on the bright side, New York was in Game 3 and has certainly been in bigger binds than this (you only need to look one round back to see that a 3-1 series deficit won’t buckle them). Will it be easy? Not necessarily, but don’t count Lundqvist & Co. out just yet.

Brian Boyle is right, ‘The Triplets’ are scary good

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One could excuse many hockey fans for not being totally aware of Tampa Bay’s trio of Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov before the playoffs began. You really can’t miss “The Triplets” if you’ve paid attention to the postseason, though.

Kucherov scored the 6-5 overtime tally in Game 3, yet the chemistry Palat and Johnson showed probably exemplified the trio’s dominance more than anything else. All three forwards scored at least one goal on Wednesday.

Here’s the Kucherov clincher:

While Johnson assisting Palat was a work of art:

The rave reviews keep piling in, too.

Brian Boyle described “The Triplets” as “scary good.” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper really nailed the notion that the trio is making a mainstream breakthrough:

Some might be wondering how the Rangers can slow them down, beyond maybe slowing down the general level of play. One hint may be to try to avoid less-than-ideal matchups.

Here’s the problem, though. If you shift to many sources against “The Triplets,” then Steven Stamkos’ line could take over. Actually, that already seems to be happening; Stamkos is asserting himself while Alex Killorn is making an impression:

For some, this is a coming out party, yet careful observers noticed the trio as one of the best lines in the NHL in 2014-15. That latter group may end up expecting this kind of dominance … but they might not be alone.

It’s hard not to, though, right?

Now we just need to come up with a better nickname than “The Triplets.”