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Game #23 – Hawks vs. Lightning Q&A: GeoFitz24 from RawCharge.com

Geofitz is a contributor at RawCharge.com. Follow him on Twitter @GeoFitz. 

How big is Vasilevskiy’s injury? Could it be something of a blessing in disguise in that he’ll be fresh come April?

Whenever you’re talking about a Vezina caliber goalie going out with an injury, it’s big. But you’re right that it is a bit of a blessing that it’s coming now rather than later in the year. The Lightning went out and got Louis Domingue as a reclamation project during last season and decided to go with him as the back-up over the older Peter Budaj. The coaching staff has been talking that they wanted to limit Vasilevskiy to around 60 starts and now they are basically forced to with this injury. One good thing is that this is a fairly easy stretch of schedule with more non-playoff teams than playoff teams on the schedule between now and when Vasilevskiy is expected to return.

Brayden Point busted out last year with 66 points, but is topping it this year. Is it just the 28% shooting percentage? Something else? And what about his contract situation in the summer?

It’s hard to see his goal totals continuing to go as they have early this year because of that unsustainable shooting percentage. But with the way he plays, it’s certainly not out of the question for him to reach 80 points and be in the Selke conversation. Patrice Bergeron obviously has that award on lock down, but in Point you’re potentially looking at the next Bergeron. As for his contract, that’s hard to say. There’s a lot of moving pieces coming up over the next two summers. Besides Point, Sergachev and Vasilevskiy will also be up for some big new contracts too. The Lightning could try to bridge him with a deal similar to what they did with Kucherov, but if he does have an 80-point season, that may be difficult. I’m confident they will get something done. Point is a team player and I don’t think this will be a Nylander situation.

Same question as Point, but about Yanni Gourde.

Yanni Gourde is quite the success story. Undrafted and unwanted. Earned an ELC with Tampa when San Jose declined to offer him one. And now he has long-term financial security. I know it’s a cliche to say this, but it’s true with Gourde; he has a motor that never stops. He is always on the go. He’s also a lot like Brendan Gallagher in that he is not afraid of going to the rough areas despite his smaller stature. That bulldog mentality has served him well and will continue to. Even if his production dips from what it was last year and what he is putting up so far this year, his contract isn’t likely to be an albatross and represents a discount on his current production level.

Deep down, they know they can’t play Dan Girardi with Hedman forever, right?

When the Lightning signed Girardi, I was pessimistic on one hand, but optimistic on the other hand. The big question was could he show himself to be more effective in a lesser role where he doesn’t have to be a #2 defenseman. His advanced stats still don’t look great, but the staff is at least keeping his minutes down. He is last in EV TOI and 5th in overall TOI among the Lightning’s defense. Hedman gets some breaks from carrying Girardi around by taking the occasional shift with Sergachev or Anton Stralman. Hedman plays two minutes more EV TOI per game than Girardi does.

Bonus Answer (No, seriously, he just gave us this. Imagine enjoying your team that much)

A couple of young rookies to keep your eye on are Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph. Cirelli got an extended cup of coffee at the end of last year and played in every playoff game for the Lightning as a rookie professional. Joseph made the team out of camp this year. Together, they’ve formed a strong third line with veteran Alex Killorn. They have some of the best advanced statistics on of any line on the team. They don’t get as much ice time as the big boys for obvious reasons, but they are always on the puck and creating chances. The trio would have more points and goals in their pockets if they had been able to find some luck earlier in the year when it seemed like they couldn’t catch a break with posts and missed shots. Cirelli is everything you could ask for in a third-line two-way center that plays a 200-foot game. Joseph is a blazer with his speed. Over and over this year, we’ve watched him get icings waved off because defensemen loafed it to the puck while he blew the doors off of them to get to the puck.

 

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