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Tampa Bay Lightning recalls Syracuse’s defensive prospect

Max Crozier, a defenceman for the Tampa Bay Lightning, was recalled from the Syracuse Crunch, the team announced on Monday. During practice, the 24-year-old defenceman joined the squad and skated with fellow rookie Emil Lilleberg in a pairing.

Another blueliner The club stated that Nick Perbix was not on the ice during the session because to “maintenance issues.” Perbix did miss a shift in the third quarter, but it didn’t come after a particularly harsh hit, and he didn’t appear to be in trouble during any of his late-game shifts. For the last five minutes or so, he was benched, but it could also have had something to do with Coach Cooper benching more offensive players when the Lightning was down. Perbix did receive five hits during the game, according to Natural Stat Trick, so maybe the cumulative damage tired him out a little.

Coach Cooper did said after Monday’s practice that Crozier “might have to play” in game Two, so it’s possible that they won’t start the warm-ups until after they’ve seen how everyone is feeling. The choice won’t be known until it’s time for the game because there isn’t an official morning skate scheduled for Tuesday. The Lightning may decide to start with an 11/7 lineup, inserting Crozier and Calvin de Haan into the lineup in case Erik Cernak or Perbix (who appeared to be a touch rattled after a hit from Carter Verhaeghe in the third period) are unable to play. Additionally, Coach Cooper would be able to switch around Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov’s linemates in order to set up advantageous matchups.

If Crozier is selected, Lilleberg—a player with whom he is somewhat at ease—will be his partner. This is because they both attended Syracuse together. During the regular season, the two played together at 5v5 for around 96 minutes with the Lightning and held their own. With a 2.49 xGA and the team’s greatest SCA/60 of any pair that played together for at least 60 minutes, they were unbeatable.

Although it’s not ideal to start an all-rookie combination when a club is behind 1-0 in a postseason series, Coach Cooper may have no other choice given the current state of the blueline’s depth and Haydn Fleury’s apparent ongoing injury recovery. Their goal is to balance the series.

The Crunch’s series against Rochester begins on Friday night, although they will surely be hoping that any necessary call-ups are minimal. Matt Tomkins, who was just awarded the team’s Brightest Prospect, is already one of the Lightning’s best goaltenders and they won’t want to be without him for the foreseeable future. The product of Alberta finished 49 games with 4 goals and 17 assists in his first full season in the AHL.

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