Tampa Bay Times - December 2nd, 2017

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  1. StamkosFan

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    Arizona Coyotes edge the Lightning in Overtime
    Tampa Bay mounts a late comeback to force OT

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    It was the duel of the conference leaders, perhaps the most highly-anticipated clash of the biannual cross-conference saga. The Tampa Bay Lightning trekked out to the desert to square off against the Arizona Coyotes, and the VHA's two finest teams did not disappoint.

    The Coyotes jumped off to an early lead as Matt Cullen skated into the zone and flung the puck at the net. Robin Lehner appeared not to be expecting a shot, and his delayed reaction was a boon for the aging centerman.

    Tampa's top powerplay unit would respond midway through the second period, with Mats Zuccarello feeding the puck from the point to Jason Zucker, who was waiting along the wall. Zucker one-timed the puck through the five-hole, leaving netminder Frederik Andersen shaking his head in disbelief.

    "The new powerplay arrangement felt great; Seguin fit right in. Although we only capitalized on one of five chances, our passes were connecting and we had a lot of shots," said Jason Zucker.

    The tide of the game turned toward Arizona from there. With the second period winding down, Tyler Bozak swept through the crease and tucked the puck past Lehner. Troy Brouwer would pad that lead with a powerplay goal from the heart of the slot five minutes into the third.

    "Arizona's powerplay is extremely effective; we have taken a lot of penalties previously this year, but we exhibited good discipline today. Only drawing two penalties kept us in the game," said Tampa defenseman Jakob Chychrun.

    The Bolts did not give up, but rather dug in their heels and clawed their way back into the match. Lightning center Tyler Johnson intercepted an errant pass in Arizona's zone and fired it at the net. Andersen deflected it away with his left pad, right to the waiting stick of Brendan Perlini. The rookie tapped it in, narrowing the Coyotes' lead to one.

    The referees' calls surprisingly went in the Bolts favor for the only time in the history of ever, handing the Bolts a 5-on-3 with under five minutes left in the third. Tampa failed to score on these penalties, and with fifteen seconds left in the game, they found themselves down by one with the goalie pulled. Captain Steven Stamkos delivered the heroics, rushing over the line and releasing a wicked near side snipe that whizzed past Andersen. Assisting on that goal, Tyler Seguin registered his first point in a Tampa uniform.

    "We battled back together and left everything out there on the ice. It was exhilarating to be able to the tie the game, we fought for the point," said Steven Stamkos.

    Overtime would decide the outcome. Arizona came with a routine zone entry, but poor positioning from Tampa center Jean-Gabriel Pageau resulted in Matt Cullen gaining a wide-open path to the net. Cullen buried the puck past a frustrated Robin Lehner, ending the game with the Coyotes winning 4-3.

    Tampa GM Lindsay, who has lashed out at some of her counterparts in the past, had only positive words regarding the match. "We had a great game tonight; both of us have very skilled rosters and effective leadership. Both teams earned a point tonight, it could have gone either way. It was a clean and entertaining game."

    Arizona GM James echoed her cordial tone. "There were some nice goals from each team. What's great about playing Lindsay's crew is there is always fair play on both sides; we, as GMs, have tremendous respect for each other."

    Tampa acquires superstar Tyler Seguin from the Flyers
    Philadelphia receives Jason Demers and blue chip prospects

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    Things have been quiet in Tampa in terms of trades, and some media analysts had begun to question whether Bolts GM Lindsay had withdrawn from the trading market. The latest news has certainly shut down such speculation. Shockwaves traveled through the hockey world on the previous evening as Lindsay cryptically hinted that Tyler Seguin was heading to Tampa, and the official details of the blockbuster were unveiled this afternoon.

    To TB: Tyler Seguin and Nikita Popugaev
    To PHI: Jason Demers, Anders Bjork, Luke Kunin, and Laurent Brossoit

    Center Tyler Seguin is one of the most coveted snipers in the league, with a full toolbox, quick hands, and dazzling speed. While Seguin had a meager 12 points in Philadelphia, that was enough to lead the Flyers, and is likely more of a commentary on his linemates than him. He is still relatively young, at only 25, and has a reasonable contract.

    Along with Seguin, Nikita Popugaev, a young Russian forward who is currently playing in the KHL, will join the Bolts prospect ranks. Like most Russian draftees, he is a wild card, but that is what makes him interesting. He could become a valuable asset in the future.

    The loss of Jason Demers is a blow to the Lightning's depth at the blue line, but the signing of Taylor Chorney [discussed in Quick Strikes] looks to offset this in the case of injuries. Moving Demers was likely a cap dump to balance the salaries, and will allow Jake Dotchin, who appeared in only 2 of the first 19 games, to earn the playing time he deserves.

    "While Jason [Demers] was very good for us this year, his presence was a hindrance to our younger and more affordable defensemen. We were more than happy to exchange him for elite firepower up front. I have full confidence in Seguin's abilities, and we hope that he will be part of our organization for years to come," said Tampa GM Lindsay.

    These words indicate that Tampa, having sacrificed two future stars in first-round pick Luke Kunin and present-day NHL Bruins top-six winger Anders Bjork, will seek to re-sign Tyler Seguin in the 2018-19 offseason to a long-term contract. The Bolts add to a solid forward core that already consisted of Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Derek Stepan.

    As for Laurent Brossoit, the 24-year-old has struggled in both the NHL and his VHA preseason appearances. The Lightning seem to think that he has used all of his chances.

    Quick Strikes: Miscellaneous Franchise News
    Taylor Chorney signs with the Bolts; Chris DiDomenico joins Tampa via trade
    • Lightning sign Taylor Chorney to a $0.75/1-year contract
    The Lightning announced that they have signed free agent Taylor Chorney to a one-year, one-way deal paying $0.75. With limited defensive options in Syracuse, as only Jordan Oesterle has NHL experience, the Bolts hope that Chorney will be a serviceable depth add. The 30-year-old blueliner has logged minutes on Washington's 3rd pairing in the NHL, and this could transition to the VHA if the Lightning need a callup. With Jason Demers dealt to Philadelphia, Chorney fills a need in the system.

    "Taylor Chorney plays a balanced game, and he definitely deserved a contract. A lot of teams had previously offered two-way deals, but we were willing to spend the extra cash. This arrangement is a good fit for all parties involved," said Tampa GM Lindsay.
    • Chris DiDomenico acquired in minor trade with Edmonton
    Tampa announced last week that they have dealt pending-UFA Brandon Pirri and Adam Tambellini to the Edmonton Oilers, long-time friends of the administration, in exchange for forward Chris DiDomenico. DiDomenico has found limited NHL minutes this year, and as a fringe player, he will serve as a depth callup. He is signed to a cheap deal for the next two seasons, but with an array of talent in Syracuse, he likely will not have a significant impact on the VHA franchise.

    "The joke is on me, a week after I acquired him because the real life Bolts did, DiDomenico went back to Ottawa. Regardless, he's a good player, a definite upgrade from Pirri and Tambellini. He's a right-handed shot too, which is something our farm system is sorely lacking in," said Tampa GM Lindsay.
     
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