Cory Conacher tries to not think about what could have been.
With the National Hockey League and the players’ association still working to resolve the lockout, the 5-8, 179-pound winger, who was expected to be a candidate for the Calder Trophy, knows that nothing is guaranteed.
"Even if the NHL figures it out and I get a chance to play in Tampa, I can't expect to be the best player and get all the points," Conacher said. "I have to do the little things that will help Tampa Bay win, and that's what is most important."
One season removed from hoisting the Calder Cup and being named the American Hockey League's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player – the fourth player to achieve both in the same season – the 23-year-old Syracuse Crunch forward still doesn't take anything for granted.
It starts with the term "shutdown defenseman."
After that, Keith Aulie rattles off the rest of his responsibilities, memorized not in a mirror but through repetition on the ice.
"I try to go out there, play hard, finish my hits, make my first passes, be tough for their forwards to play against, kill penalties, and be consistent back there," Aulie said before taking a breath.
Likely set to at least challenge for a spot on the Tampa Bay Lightning blueline this season, Aulie has taken his talents to the Syracuse Crunch during the NHL lockout. A team that has been near the top of the Eastern Conference in points and penalty minute leaderboard all season, the Crunch welcomed the 6-6, 229-pounder’s ability to log substantial ice time.
Philip-Michael Devos' stay in the American Hockey League was supposed to be temporary.
After failing to make the Norfolk Admirals out of training camp last season, the undrafted forward earned himself a December call-up by posting nearly a point-per-game over his first 20 ECHL contests. Still, the boarding pass likely had "round trip" stamped on it.
Devos had other plans.
"When he came back up, he wouldn't let us send him down," former Admirals head coach Jon Cooper said. "We had all intentions of sending him back down, but he played so well for us."
By Peter Pupello, TampaBayLightning.com
Please excuse the United States’ neighbor to the north if the temperatures in Canada this time of year begin to feel a little bit warmer.
At least in and around the parts of Rouyn-Noranda, that is.
The city is home to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, whom since the arrival of Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, have seemed to catch fire.
Since Kucherov joined the Huskies in a trade from the Quebec Remparts on November 21, the club has gone on to win seven of its previous nine games, including three straight.
Prior to the trade, Rouyn-Noranda had dropped five consecutive games, including two in a row by a score of 8-3. Kucherov, meanwhile, has elevated his game and has seemed to fit right in to his new surroundings as he emerges as a great talent at the Canadian junior level.
For the rest of this story, see TampaBayLightning.com.
By Damian Cristodero, Tampa Bay Times
University of Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox claims he can solve a Rubik's Cube puzzle in "about a minute."
Yeah, right, said laughing Gophers goaltenders coach Justin Johnson. "Maybe if he was doing just one side."
No, really, Wilcox said, "It's just kind of learning patterns. You have to take it step by step."
And that is exactly how Wilcox has turned himself into one of the nation's top freshman goalies and one of the Lightning's most interesting and promising prospects.
For the rest of this story, see the Tampa Bay Times.