As far as Lightning prospect watching goes, outside of a Calder Cup it’s hard to top the past week.
Our top-rated prospect, Jonathan Drouin, was finally freed, taking the left wing spot on Tampa Bay’s top line next to Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. Drouin was also promoted to the top power play unit, though “promoted” could be interpreted as a reply to an S.O.S. signal that didn’t include red lights.
Then there’s 19-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Our No. 2 prospect made his NHL debut with a stellar performance in Philadelphia, allowing an early, no-chance deflection goal. On Saturday, Vasilevskiy put on a cape and turned in one of the best goaltending performances in Lightning history, stopping 45 of 47 shots in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Islanders. Lightning skaters had the best seats in the house for Vasy’s show and did their fair share of watching.
The streak continues.
The Syracuse Crunch netted a pair of power play goals in a 3-2 victory over the Albany River Rats in the final game before the holiday break at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The nine-game win streak is the longest the franchise has had in its three years affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Syracuse leads the Northeast Division and is second overall in the Eastern Conference. While the Crunch would like to keep the momentum rolling, they are welcoming a short rest.
"They deserve it," Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler said of the break. "These guys played very hard. You could see it out there. It was a chippy, kind of nasty game, but I think our players played hard and they deserve the five days."
This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· Analyzing Vasilevskiy's debut
· Taylor Hall trade rumors
· Interview with Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis
· BP Mailbag (More on TB goaltending future, KHL fallout, Artem Sergeev status update)
· TB prospect World Juniors preview
To listen on Lightning Radio, go to TBLPowerPlay.com.
Previous BP Podcast editions:
Ontario Hockey League
Windsor Spitfires 4 @ Saginaw Spirit 7
W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, E, 6 PIM
Season totals: 27 GP, 9-7-16, -12, 49 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM
DiGiacinto broke a personal three-game scoreless drought with an assist Saturday.
Fans went to a fight and another Syracuse Crunch win broke out.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. That's 4 straight quality starts and 5 straight wins and he's run his save percentage up to .907 now.
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Marchessault, Namestnikov), 8:41 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (5) (Angelidis), 13:34
ALB Boucher, (7) (Whitney, Scarlett), 7:32 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (4) (Nesterov, Samson), 9:30 (PP)
ALB Thompson, (13) (Black), 7:56
Mike Angelidis, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. The Crunch ran their winning streak to 9 games as they continue to diligently stalk Manchester for first place in the Eastern Conference, where they remain just a point out. Given the Lightning's struggles up top, though, I would not be shocked to see Namestnikov moved back up sooner rather than later to try to shake the chemistry up in Tampa. Either way, though, the Crunch defense and goaltending seem to have it rolling now. They'll reconvene Friday against the Devils when I suspect there might be a roster change or three, because a defenseman may be going up, too.
Box score from TheAHL.com.