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Dan Girardi somehow OK after dangerous blocked shot
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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper called it one of the scariest moments he’s witnessed at any level of hockey. Detroit Red Wings forward Martin Frk sent a hard shot that caught Dan Girardi up high – maybe somewhere in the face, or a little of both – causing Girardi to collapse to the ice., or the shoulder

It was difficult not to fear the worst, already a positive sign considering how scary that moment was., but he was able to leave the rink with some help

then: the Lightning announced that Girardi is merely considered day-to-day and that all tests came back negative. Phew.,Monday brought great news

it’s interesting to take a look at some of the reactions to Frk’s shot.,With the fear of the worst behind us

Brad Richards told The Athletic’s Craig Custance that Frk might hesitate when unleashing the puck in the future.

” Richards said. “I can’t speak for him but it’s got to be a little — you have to be shaken a little bit when you take a shot and someone is laying on the ice.”,“I think it’s definitely going to weigh in his mind

Jalen Wilkerson is the sixth Florida State player to announce he is leaving early to enter the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-4, 283-pound defensive lineman had two years of eligibility remaining after completing his redshirt sophomore season. He started only one game this past season but played in all 13, including six tackles for loss., logging 19 tackles

but I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to play for Nole Nation.”,Wilkerson said via Twitter that “Some people will never know why you have to make the decisions you make

Wilkerson joins safety Derwin James, tight end Ryan Izzo, cornerback Tarvarus McFadden and wide receiver Auden Tate in leaving early., defensive end Josh Sweat

or cancel it altogether.,The Colorado Avalanche probably wish they could push their bye week back

as The Athletic’s Michael Russo reports:,Such logic would be understandable after last night’s jarring win: a 7-2 drubbing of the Minnesota Wild. The Avs impressed their Central Division rivals

“They’ve got some good young players,” Eric Staal said. “They’ve got quickness. They’ve got, it looks like, sometimes it’s difficult to be up for games. But they’re real competitive.”, a better belief in the style of game they need to play. When you’re that far behind the eight-ball the way they were last year

That 7-2 mark represented the Avalanche’s fifth consecutive victory, they’ve generated 47 standings points in 41 games in 2017-18 after generating just 48 in all of 2016-17., placing them – for the time being – in one of the West’s wild card spots. Remarkably

it might be entertaining and informative to do a deep dive on the Avalanche. Let’s look at what’s been working during the winning streak and beyond.,With all of that in mind

The most obvious reason is one that sticks out like a frostbitten thumb: Nathan MacKinnon‘s explosion from very good player to superstar.

We won’t beat that drum too much again, nine assists) and is ranked second in scoring with 52 points overall., as we’ve already done so here and here. Just note that MacKinnon has an absurd 12 points during this five-game winning streak (three goals

Don’t look now, but Samuel Girard has five points in as many games, so Avs fans shouldn’t fret about Matt Duchene starting to heat up in Ottawa. Young players are driving much of Colorado’s success, while Mikko Rantanen continues to ascend the ranks alongside MacKinnon., as Alex Kerfoot would probably be getting more attention as a strong rookie in a weaker Calder year

At 25, Gabriel Landeskog isn’t quite old, just one short of tying his 2016-17 total., but he’s experienced compared to some of those other names. The sturdy Swede has 32 points in 37 games this season

Jonathan Bernier is a backup with some starting experience who’s taking advantage of an opportunity to shine with his team’s starter on the shelf.,Much like James Reimer in Florida

Bernier hasn’t been lights-out overall (still just 9-7-1 with .909 save percentage), allowing five goals and nabbing one shutout., yet he’s been burning it up during this run. The former first-rounder is on a four-game winning streak

generating seven overall (7-for-17).,The Avalanche have generated at least one power-play goal in four of five games during this winning streak

A five-game winning streak is only so much during an 82-game regular season. The positive thing is that the Avalanche’s run really goes deeper than this surge.

When the Avs fell 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 7, their record dipped to 12-13-2. Since then, going 10-3-1 to improve to 22-16-3 overall., they’ve only lost four times

One thing to note is that the Avalanche have enjoyed some home-cooking lately. Yesterday ended a six-game homestand, as they’ll face a six-game road trip and nine of 10 on the road during this stretch:, and they’ve played nine of their last 11 in Colorado. They’ll pay that debt back soon enough

his good buddy knocked on the glass window of the room.,As Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was conducting his post-game press conference Sunday

and waved goodbye on his way out of town after another Tampa Bay victory.,Authentic Jake Allen jersey,Lightning coach Jon Cooper smiled

reaching the season’s midpoint with a 10-point lead over second-place Boston. Tampa Bay also has an eight-point cushion over Washington for the top team in the Eastern Conference.,The Lightning (30-9-3) has left the rest of the Atlantic Division in its wake

" Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan said.,adidas Philipp Grubauer jersey,"They’re running away with it

There are a lot of things the Lightning can feel good about in its franchise-best start. There’s the spectacular play of No.1 goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is a Vezina Trophy favorite and a Hart Trophy candidate for league MVP. Nikita Kucherov is tied for the league’ lead in goals with 27, Steven Stamkos has enjoyed a brilliant bounce-back season,Authentic Steven Stamkos jersey, and No. 2 in goals allowed.,Authentic Michael Hutchinson jersey, earning an All-Star captain spot. The Lightning is No. 1 in goals per game

and some needed improvement.,But let’s not plan the Stanley Cup parade in Channelside yet. Tampa Bay knows there’s a lot more work to do

"We can sit here and say, ‘Yeah, if the playoff started today,’ " Cooper said. "But you’ve got to be battle-ready when that comes. And I’m not so sure we’re there right yet.",Authentic Philipp Grubauer jersey, we’re in

goals against average,The real No. 1: The Lightning was confident Vasilevskiy would blossom into an elite No. 1. How many thought it’d come this quickly? Vasilevskiy leads the league in wins, save percentage and shutouts, showing the poise of a 10-year vet. Vasilevskiy’s been Tampa Bay’s best player, "God,adidas Connor Hellebuyck jersey, its MVP. As Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty put it, he’s good."

including Stamkos,Stamkos’ start: Everyone, wondered when he’d be "back," after missing most of last season after knee surgery. That Stamkos has flourished, with 51 points, who might be one of the top three players in the world. Stamkos’ presence in the room can’t be understated, is a credit to him and his chemistry with Kucherov, and he’s been a difference-maker on the third-ranked power play.

On Point: The emergence of Brayden Point last season likely made it easier for the Lightning to part ways with talented wing Jonathan Drouin over the summer. Point is capable of scoring 25-30 goals, and he’s on his way with 16 in 42 games. More importantly, Point’s led the team’s shutdown line, and the rest of the league is starting to figure it out., charged with defending the other team’s top players. That could loom large come playoff time. Point is a budding star

a second wave of offense behind Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman. With Sergachev slotted in the top-four,Bolstered blueline: The addition of Mikhail Sergachev has added another dimension to the Lightning blueline, alongside steady veteran Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay has seen a big boost in production, becoming the first team to rack up 100 points from defensemen. Veteran Dan Girardi’s signing might not have been widely praised in the summer, on the third pair and penalty kill. The good news for the Lightning is that all tests were negative on Girardi, but he’s been a perfect fit in the right role, who got hit in the back of the neck by a slap shot Sunday.

only better than Colorado. It’s surprising considering Tampa Bay has so many centers, ranking 30th at 46.9 percent, two centers on each of the first two lines. This issue might not be killing the Lightning overall, as it’s still a strong possession team (taking 62.5 percent of shots in 5-on-5). But come playoff time, those draws, are huge. The Lightning ranks last in faceoffs while shorthanded (39.6 percent),Dominated in dot: The Lightning is one of the worst teams in the league in faceoffs, especially on special teams, per faceoffs.net.

Penalty kill: Leafs coach Mike Babcock is a big believer in that you don’t have to have an elite power play to win, from faceoffs to structure., but you need a good penalty kill. While Tampa Bay has been better lately, the Lightning giving up 10 power play goals in his eight-game absence. But this unit can be better, including killing off two 5-on-3s in Sunday’s win in Detroit, adidas Steven Stamkos jersey,it is still a pedestrian 80.7 percent. Losing Ryan Callahan to injury hurt

Coverage: While the Lightning is No. 2 in goals allowed, a minus-four in his last three games., a lot of that has to do with the play of Vasilevskiy. Turnovers have been a key culprit, making Braydon Coburn a healthy scratch Saturday and Jake Dotchin Sunday. You’ve also got to be wary of Sergachev potentially hitting a rookie wall,adidas Carter Hutton jersey, but so has coverage in the defensive zone, especially when there are scrambles. You can see Cooper trying to shake things up recently

specifically the right side, but if the Lightning can find an upgrade on its blueline, that’s something to watch for. Senators’ Cody Ceci could be available. The Lightning and Blue Jackets have scouted each other often the first half of the year,adidas Jake Allen jersey,Authentic Nicklas Backstrom jersey,Right-shot defenseman: These are very difficult to acquire, with Columbus having depth on ‘D’ and a need up front.

Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard will miss Detroit's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night with a lower-body injury.

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill confirmed Saturday that Howard hurt himself in Friday night's win over Florida . Detroit has won four games in a row, with Howard stopping 145 of 151 shots in those games.

Howard is considered day-to-day, and the Red Wings have five days off after the game against Tampa Bay.

When the Tampa Bay Lightning host NHL All-Star Weekend, adidas Michael Hutchinson jersey, they'll have face of the franchise Steven Stamkos front and center.

Stamkos was voted by fans as captain of the Atlantic Division team for the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament that'll take place later this month at Amalie Arena in Tampa,adidas Nicklas Backstrom jersey,Florida. The league unveiled All-Star captains Wednesday night and is expected to announce the full rosters in mid-January.

Stamkos has 49 points for first-place Tampa Bay and is signed for the next seven seasons. Stamkos was the No. 1 pick of the Lightning in 2008 and chose to stay with them rather than test free agency in the summer of 2016.

the Lightning could have two more All-Stars in winger Nikita Kucherov and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Kucherov leads the league with 56 points,Though every team must be represented, and Vasilevsky has the most wins of any goalie with 26.

just ahead of Kucherov,Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin earned his ninth career All-Star nod as the fan-voted captain of the Metropolitan Division. Ovechkin leads the league with 26 goals, and is on pace for his eighth 50-goal season.

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban was voted captain for the Metropolitan Division and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid captain of the Pacific Division.

After helping the Predators reach the Stanley Cup Final last spring,Authentic Connor Hellebuyck jersey, Subban is tied for third among defensemen with 29 points. McDavid is ninth in the league with 45 points despite the Oilers' struggles.
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