TAMPA — Louis Domingue is back where he belongs, in the NHL. There’s no guarantee it sticks this time, but he showed this weekend that it should.
Domingue took his former team to task the day after doing the same to the Capitals. He allowed two goals on 59 shots between the two games, allowing each team one goal in two wins.
There’s no doubt he was looking for an opportunity Sunday against the Lightning.
“It was awesome,” he said after the Devils’ 3-1 win. “I’m going to ride this wave a little bit, and then focus on Toronto, but it’s awesome. There are no words to describe it. I said it before, it feels like I just won my first game all over again. It’s awesome.”
For those counting, that’s three “awesomes” in 21 seconds. Yeah, I think Domingue had some emotions around this game.
A year ago, he seemed to have redeemed his career. He was sent home by the Coyotes in 2017, then traded to the Lightning and assigned to the AHL. Late in the season, he was brought up to the NHL and stuck as a backup. He was crucial in last year’s historic season.
Yet, he found himself odd-man out in the offseason. The Lightning signed a new backup and assigned Domingue to the AHL, eventually trading him for peanuts. That left him looking for his way in … again.
This might end up being the answer for Domingue. One of the Devils’ failings has been finding consistent goaltending. Maybe he’s part of the answer. The organization is going through upheaval, however, and currently has an interim general manager and an interim coach after trading away a franchise player.
Domingue deserves a consistent role in the league, maybe even a shot at being a starter. He got a raw deal from the Lightning and embraced the chance to show his former team just what it is missing out on Sunday.
Quick hits with Braydon Coburn
First car: Coburn’s parents bought him a 1998 Oldsmobile from “some old guy.” The car was on its second engine when he got it and Coburn made it last until he signed his first NHL contract, after which Coburn gave the car to his brother.
Bucket list destination: Coburn would like to visit Sardinia. He saw it featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. (Erik Cernak suggested his home country of Slovakia, but Coburn has already been there.)
Biggest pet peeve: Coburn doesn’t like when people are on their phones at the dinner table. That goes for family, friends … and teammates.
So, I had a thought
• An hour before game time is a weird time to fire your general manager. A Sunday is a weird time to fire your general manager. Just after he fired a coach and traded a franchise player is a weird time to fire your general manager. So, yeah, New Jersey had some odd timing in firing Ray Shero before the game against the Lightning. Firing someone is never taken lightly so Devils managing partners had a reason for the timing, we just don’t know what it was.
• Zach Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk were both wrong. If you haven’t seen it yet, Calgary’s Tkachuck delivered a big, dangerous hit to Edmonton’s Kassian, who then grabbed Tkachuk and started delivering punches as Tkachuk covered his head. Say what you want about having to answer for your hits, but fighting an unwilling combatant is not okay. Tkachuk had his hands over his head/face, and clearly wanted no part of it. BUT Tkachuk’s hip check to the head is also not okay. Coming from above the goal line to below with a hit like that is dangerous, especially to a player bent over with his head low. Tkachuk was not penalized live, while Kassian received a roughing double-minor and a misconduct. The league suspended Kassian for two games and did not have a hearing for Tkachuk. So add the officials/league to the list of people who are wrong in this situation. None of it should be in the game.
• Maybe it’s time for Amalie Arena to get a new video board. There’s nothing wrong with the current one but seeing the fancy new technology in Nashville and Philadelphia opened my eyes to what’s possible. The one in Nashville had open space in the corners, with pieces shaped like fangs. Philly’s new board has concave curved pieces on the long ends, the sides of which can be hard to read from the corners. It also has a piece that can sit above or below the main board and shoots fire. The different shapes available now are cool, but the more compelling reason for a new board is the video quality. The colors are sharper, the definition higher and the replays better.
Challenge rates: 3. Vancouver, 4/5. 2. Colorado 5/6. 1. Montreal 4/4.
Biggest organizational messes: 3. Ottawa 2. Red Wings 1. Devils
Pacific Division standings (entering Monday): 5. Edmonton, 53 points. T3. Vancouver, Vegas, 54. T1. Calgary, Arizona, 55.
Question for the Lightning
Can the Lightning win the Atlantic Division?
Maybe. But it won’t be easy.
As of Monday morning, the Lightning were on pace to finish second, 10 points behind the Bruins. That’s a tough hill to climb.
The Lightning can increase their own pace. Since Dec. 1, going back before the win streak, they’re earning points at almost the rate they did last season. If they win between two-thirds and three-quarters, they can put themselves on pace for 107 to 113 points.
But, they also need the Bruins to slow down. Boston hit a rough patch at the same time the Lightning picked up, but they’ve started to bounce back.
So there’s definitely a chance, but they’d need help.