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NHL: Lightning Playing at Playoff Pace, But Are They Playoff Contenders?

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Nikita Kucherov (right) scored in overtime with the assist from Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Nashville Predators. Image: NBCSN.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (FNN SPORTS) – Adversity is probably the key word for the Tampa Bay Lightning team right now. They entered the 2019-2020 season with many eyes on them after the way the 2018-2019 season closed out. They’ve been a skillful line-up, but what is skill without the right structure?

Coach Cooper has been working tirelessly to find what will work for his skilled players to find consistency and win games. Starting off the season on a two-week road trip, the Bolts had a lot on their plate. Weirdly, they were pulling off wins against tough opponents and falling short versus teams they were predicted to beat, struggling to play 60 minutes of hockey.

The Bolts’ turning point came during their trip to Sweden, which gave them the chance to reset and bond as mentioned previously, and we saw a more competitive team return.

Sadly, as soon as the Lightning began to find a rhythm, many injuries started amongst key players. Two weeks ago, Kucherov was out for thankfully one game, but then Stamkos was gone for three, while Coburn is now out indefinitely, and Killorn is on a day-to-day basis, counting him out of last night’s match-up versus the Nashville Predators. The Lightning called Cory Conacher back up from Syracuse, who’s been the go-to guy to add to the line since October, but Verhaeghe ended up back in the line-up.

Last night Kucherov, Point and Palat hit the ice as the starting line and McDonagh with Cernak as the starting d-pairing. Both the Lightning and Predators carry a lot of talent on their teams, so the game opened up with fast skating and physicality.

Leave it to Victor Hedman to get the Bolts on the board first through. Hedman has been relentlessly taking more shots on goal since his first of the season on a power play. The Predators tied it up in the 2nd period and if you thought you saw fast pace and hard skating in the 1st period of this game, the 2nd period was way more intense, with many near-fights until Luke Schenn had enough of Tyler, resulting in a real one.

Later in the chippy 2nd period Brayden Point drew a penalty as he went for the puck and got elbowed in the face. After reviewing the play, the referees felt that it was intentional, dealing the Bolts a 5-minute power play that they unfortunately couldn’t score in because the Predators did a heck of a job holding the Lightning to center ice.

We saw the d-pairings playing way more up than usual; at this point there isn’t really a “stay at home” defenseman, or at least not last night. In the 3rd period, Nashville tied up the game yet again and both teams really battled for the win into overtime. What better duo than Stamkos to Kucherov could you picture to secure the win for the Lightning? The Bolts left Nashville with two hard-earned points.

Last night’s game was played at a playoff pace and intensity with the Lightning sitting five below the ranking line in the East and Nashville sitting three below in the West. It’s officially that time of the year where every game counts and there are only so many games left before playoffs are here. Will the Bolts be playoff contenders? A short time will tell.

The Lightning head back home to host the Minnesota Wild tomorrow at 7pm.

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Kasey Hudson is Sports Associate Editor for Florida National News. | social@floridanationalnews.com

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2023 Super Bowl: Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs

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NEW YORK, NY – It’s official, the Philadelphia Eagles will be meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs for Super Bowl LVII. The NFL teams will match up at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday, February 12, 2023, on Fox.

The Eagles dominated the San Francisco 49ers in the 2023 NFC Championship Game with a final score of 7-31. The NFC East team last won Super Bowl LII in 2017 when they faced the New England Patriots. Their previous Super Bowl appearances were in 2005 against the Patriots and in 1980 against the Oakland Raiders, both games in which they lost.

 

The Chiefs are headed to another Super Bowl and hoping to win their third win at the championship game. Patrick Mahomes led his team to a win at the AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals and it was a field goal kick that gave the Chiefs the 3-point advantage in a close game that ended with a score of 20-23.

Their last win at the Super Bowl was in 2020 when they faced the 49ers and won. Previous to that, the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV when they faced the Minnesota Vikings in 1970. The Chiefs last appeared in a Super Bowl in 2021 when they lost against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On the entertainment side, country music star Chris Stapleton will perform the National Anthem and Babyface will sing “America the Beautiful” before kickoff. Additionally, Abbott Elementary star Sheryl Lee Ralph will be singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the pre-show.

The Halftime show will be headlined by Rihanna, the first show produced under the new Apple Music sponsorship, who replaced Pepsi.

Roc Nation founder Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter said, “Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn. A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment.”

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NFL

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew Named to the 2023 Pro Bowl Games

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Sep 30, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jamal Agnew (39)runs during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Jacksonville Jaguars // WR Jamal Agnew was named to the 2023 Pro Bowl Games as a return specialist to replace Ravens WR Devin Duvernay, who is unable to participate due to injury, the NFL announced today. Agnew is the first Jaguars Pro Bowler since 2019 and the 31st Pro Bowler in franchise history. Agnew is the first return specialist to make the Pro Bowl in team history and the fourth specialist, joining punters Bryan Parker and Chris Hanson and kicker Mike Hollis.

Agnew returned 21 kickoffs for 547 yards (26.0 average) and 25 punt returns for 205 yards (8.2 average). Agnew’s 26.0 kick return average was the second-highest in the AFC (min. 20 kick returns) and he had two kick returns of at least 50 yards in the regular season, including a 54-yard return in Jacksonville’s Week 18 victory against Tennessee.

In the postseason, Agnew returned seven kickoffs for 265 yards (37.9 average) and three punt returns for 23 yards (7.7 average). Agnew’s 37.9 return average is the second-highest in a single NFL postseason by any player with a minimum of five kick returns. Agnew had four kick returns for 134 yards with a long of 52 yards against the Chargers and three kick returns for 131 yards with a long of 63 yards against the Chiefs.

The 2023 Pro Bowl games will take place in Las Vegas beginning on Thursday, February 2 with the Pro Bowl players competing in skills challenges. The Pro Bowl Games competition culminates with a seven versus seven NFC action-packed Flag football game at Allegiant Stadium.

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XFL: Orlando Guardians Sign Former NFL QB Paxton Lynch

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Former NFL quarterback Paxton Lynch joins the Orlando Guardians. Photo: NFL.
Former NFL quarterback Paxton Lynch joins the Orlando Guardians. Photo: NFL.

ORLANDO (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Orlando Guardians // The XFL announced today that quarterback Paxton Lynch has signed with the Orlando Guardians.

 

Lynch, 28, joins the XFL after playing for the USFL in 2022, playing six games. Lynch was a first-round selection of the Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL Draft, spending two seasons with the club. He also has experience with the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.

 

Lynch was a three-year starter at the University of Memphis, where he ranks No. 3 all-time in pass completions (758) and passing yards (8,863), No. 4 in touchdowns responsible for (76) and touchdown passes (59). He holds the school record for single-season completion percentage (.668/2015) and ranks No. 3 on the Tigers’ single-season passing yards list (3,776/2015). He earned a bachelor’s degree from Memphis in May of 2016.

 

Lynch is a native of Deltona, Fla. and a graduate of Trinity Christian Academy.

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