What should Lightning add before deadline?

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There’s no such thing as a perfect team in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning are as close as it gets. The Bolts are blessed with names like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Anton Stralman, Andrei Vasilevskiy and many others. So, what should the top team in the NHL add before the February 25th trade deadline?

Before we start throwing names around, it’s important to realize that the Lightning currently have their own first-round draft pick in 2019, but they can’t use it as a trade chip. As part of last year’s deadline-day deal with the New York Rangers that involved McDonagh and J.T. Miller, Tampa sent a conditional second-rounder in 2019 that could become a first-rounder if they win the Stanley Cup. Basically, the Lightning have to hold on to their first pick in case it needs to go to the Rangers this summer. Any trade involving the Lightning will not involve their first or second round picks.

Let’s start with the defense.

The Bolts have Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh as their top two defenders on the left side. That’s not too shabby. On the right side, they’re rolling with Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman. Sure, they could make a deal with a team like Carolina for Dougie Hamilton or Brett Pesce, but that will certainly cost them a quality forward that’s already on their roster. That’s unlikely.

So, instead, they could opt to use a mid-round pick to land themselves a veteran that could step into the lineup in case of injury. Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta are the depth right-handed defensemen on the team right now, but neither one has much experience in the postseason.

It’s possible that Julien BriseBois could opt for a veteran like Ben Lovejoy, who’s on an expiring contract in New Jersey. The 34-year-old has playoff experience (he’s suited up in 63 postseason games and he won a Cup with the Penguins) and they can let him walk after the season when they’ll need the money to pay someone else. Adam McQauid could be an option here, too.

Red Wings blueliner Nick Jensen doesn’t have any playoff experience, but he could also fit the bill as an option for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 28-year-old will also be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018-19 campaign. With the Wings out of the playoff picture, they could just decide to accumulate an additional asset for a free agent.

So a right-handed defenseman could be an option.

How about another depth center, too?

Sticking with this Red Wings theme. How about Luke Glendening? Tampa’s division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have already been linked to the speedy center, so why not add a good piece and prevent a team you might meet in the playoffs from getting better?

Glendening has two years remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $1.8 million. That’s a digestible number. Depending on what you’d be sending to Detroit in the trade, they might even be willing to eat some of the money left on his deal.

If they’re looking to upgrade the fourth line without being tied down by term, Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger could be an interesting target. He’s in the final year of his contract.

The one thing you notice when looking at Tampa’s roster is that they don’t have to make a big splash to be considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. This is a really good team that has the ability to go all the way. Making a small tweak here or there could be enough. After all, they have a 13-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets, who are the second best team in the NHL right now.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Pass or Fail: Lightning go ‘stealth mode’ with third jerseys

Adidas/Lightning
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The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled their new third jersey in conjunction with Adidas on Thursday, and if I had to describe them in a glib way, I’d call them the unofficial hockey sweaters of the DC Comics’ Extended Cinematic Universe.

As the amusingly descriptive rollout notes, the Lightning’s new third jersey includes three “colors,” with marketing buzzword-y names: “midnight black, storm grey, and flash silver.”

This breakdown with Brayden Point looks like it should be happening in “The Batcave.”

But, hey, some people really dig them, and maybe you’ll become one of those people. Here’s a look at different components of the sweater.

This introductory video is so “Batman” it might as well be titled “The Dark Light.”

If you prefer it in written form, they introduced the third jersey with this paragraph, with the hashtag #DisruptTheNight.

Lightning is a brilliant collision of a million forces. Particles crash, then unite as one, to create a luminous whole with electrified might. Its transformative pattern reveals itself within the deepest of blacks, echoing the union of our thunderous fans, each a singular element, who fuse together in the shared ritual of Lightning Hockey. A bold, modern design influenced by speed, innovation and a new interpretation of the past, this is the new Lightning Third Jersey.

Well, alrighty then. Finally, here they are in motion:

What do you think of them?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Lightning survive Rangers’ rally for tight win

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For much of Saturday’s game, it seemed like the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers would stick to the script. The Lightning were stomping around as the NHL’s top team, while the Rangers were slotting in as a team with more focus on the draft lottery.

Instead, the Lightning saw a 3-0 lead shrink to just a 3-2 win, with the Rangers pressing for the tying goal into the final moments.

Really, the Bolts were breathing quite a few sighs of relief. Beyond that narrow victory, it also seems like Nikita Kucherov dodged an injury scare late in the second period.

But, again, the Rangers signaled that they could be an upset threat thanks to the red-hot play of Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello, most sensationally when Zibanejad and Henrik Lundqvist set up Kevin Hayes via this scintillating set of passes:

(Lundqvist is now the Rangers’ franchise goalie assists leader with 26.)

Hank also made a dazzling save against former Rangers captain Ryan Callahan to keep things close, as you can see in the highlights above this post’s headline.

In an interesting wrinkle, Kucherov became the first player to hit 80 points this season, while the Lightning became the first NHL team to reach 80 standings points in 2018-19.

The Rangers put up quite the fight, but the Lightning stand far ahead of the rest of the league in part because they can win every type of game, even with Brayden Point on the shelf.

In NBC’s other Saturday game, the Blackhawks beat the Wild 4-3 in overtime. Here are the highlights:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Penguins host Lightning on Wednesday Night Hockey

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Tampa Bay, which last played on Jan. 19, comes out of the All- Star break with the best record in the NHL at 37-10-2. With 76 points, the Lightning occupy first place in the NHL, and are five points ahead of the Calgary Flames for most in the league entering Wednesday night’s action.

Tampa Bay has been in first place in the NHL since Nov. 29 – just more than two months – and are looking to capture the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history. They are currently on pace to win 62 games this season, which would tie NHL record (set by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings – 62 wins).

The last team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and win the Stanley Cup was the Blackhawks in 2013, and before that was the Red Wings in 2008.

[WNH: Sidney Crosby’s Selke Trophy push]

On Monday, the Penguins lost at home to the New Jersey Devils, 6-3, its fourth loss in the last five games (all in regulation – 1-4-0 record since Jan. 12). Pittsburgh has allowed five-plus goals in all four of those losses. This recent stretch of struggles follows Pittsburgh’s hottest streak of the season, when they won 10 of 11 games from Dec. 19 – Jan. 11.

One thing the Penguins need to improve is on the power play. They are just 2-for-13 (15.4%) on the power play in their last four games, and have allowed three shorthanded goals in the last six games. In fact, Pittsburgh leads the NHL with 11 shorthanded goals allowed this season. Last year they were tied with Tampa Bay and San Jose for the fewest shorthanded goals allowed (3).

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: PPG Paints Arena
When: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Lightning-Penguins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

LIGHTNING
Ondrej PalatSteven StamkosYanni Gourde
Tyler JohnsonBrayden PointNikita Kucherov
Alex KillornAnthony CirelliJ.T. Miller
Adam ErneCedric PaquetteMathieu Joseph

Victor HedmanDan Girardi
Ryan McDonaghErik Cernak
Mikhail SergachevAnton Stralman

Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

PENGUINS
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyDominik Simon
Bryan RustEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel
Tanner PearsonMatt CullenPatric Hornqvist
Riley Sheahan – Teddy Blueger – Garrett Wilson

Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Olli MaattaJuuso Riikola
Marcus PetterssonJack Johnson

Starting goalie: Matt Murray

MORE: Kendall Coyne Schofield to serve as NBC Sports analyst on Wednesday Night Hockey

Coyne will join the broadcast team of John Forslund (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk (analyst) and Emmy Award-winner Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) for the call from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Wednesday night.

PHT Morning Skate: Fixing Oilers most difficult NHL task; Datsyuk return?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Fixing the Edmonton Oilers is the most difficult task in the NHL. (TSN.ca)

• Player and puck tracking and today’s NHL. (The Canadian Press)

• He’s 40 and hasn’t played in the NHL for the past three seasons, but Pavel Datsyuk is open to a return to the NHL. (TSN.ca)

• Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice never content to rest as a head coach. (NHL.com)

• A quick look at every general manager in the NHL. (The Hockey News)

Phillip Danault, Montreal Canadiens MVP? The case is there to be made. (Montreal Gazette)

P.K. Subban — veteran NHLer, rookie television producer. (Forbes)

• Where do the Penguins currently sit among the NHL’s Stanley Cup contenders and pretenders? (Pensburgh)

Ondrej Kase to have season-ending surgery, out five-to-six months. (OC Register)

• When Mario Lemieux had his best-ever NHL season. (CBC)

• Go big or go home: Islanders should be aggressive through the trade deadline. (Lighthouse Hockey)

Brayden Point is going to get paid. (Tampa Bay Times)

• Will anyone hire Peter Chiarelli now? (Edmonton Sun)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck