Ashton, Carter

AHL Game Night: 1-28-12 Bears at Admirals

Holtby'ed again.

HER-3
NOR-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.

First Period
HER Potulny, (14) (Bourque, Aucoin), 3:56 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (15) (Panik, Conacher), 8:46 (PP)

Second Period
HER Potulny, (15) (Bourque, Aucoin), 18:44 (PP)
NOR Conacher, (25) (Johnson, Dimmen), 18:59

Third Period
HER Hanson, (9) (Ford), 1:14

Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson were the game's second and third stars.

Norfolk outshot Hershey 40-22, but as has been the case seemingly about a half dozen times over the years, just when the Ads look ready to make their move and establish themselves as the better team, Holtby or one of the other Caps prospect goaltenders stands on their heads. Holding that team, as explosive as it is, to 22 shots is unheard of. To play that well and still lose hurts badly.

And the Panik attack continues. In the last 16 games, Richard Panik has 6 goals and 13 points and he's now riding a 5 game point streak. It's not quite as impressive as Carter Ashton's ridiculous 11 goals and 17 points in the first 16 games this year, but it's in the ballpark (upper deck, perhaps, but in the ballpark).

Monday night is the AHL All-Star Game and the Admirals will return to action next Friday against Adirondack. Fortunately, the Penguins got spanked by Binghamton, so they pull into the break just 3 points back in the division despite the loss to the Bears.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-27-12 Bears at Admirals

Labrie is Superman.

HER-1
NOR-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NOR Ashton, (17) (Kostka, Panik), 11:32

Third Period
HER Micflikier, (19) (Eakin), 6:30
NOR Labrie, (7) (Smith, Conacher), 10:04

Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Carter Ashton, and Tokarski were the game's three stars. Ashton now with 2 goals in his last 3 games. You hope it's time for another Carter Ashton boomlet.

Labrie got off the plane, then got into a phone booth to put on his cape and score the game winning goal. There's not many tough guys who could do what he did: play a strong 2-way game in a 4th line role in Tampa and then turn around and go play on a top line and score the winning goal down in the AHL. This guy's not going away. He's not a flash in the pan.

Mark it down: 1/27/12 was the day Panik got back to 0.50 points per game. Panik attack, ya'll.

Norfolk's win ties them with Hershey at 55 points, but they're now 3 points behind the suddenly surging Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. On the one hand, playing in this division makes it extremely tough to get a high seed, which is tough on Norfolk. On the other hand, though, they'll be a lot more battle tested come the postseason having played more games against quality opposition.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-21-12 Admirals at Whale

When Slovakians attack...

NOR-5
CT-4 (SO)

Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 26 shots and stopped 9 of 10 in the penalty shot session for the win. He came into the game in relief of Dustin Tokarski who unceremoniously allowed all 3 shots he faced into the net before getting the hook.

First Period
NOR Johnson, (14) (Ashton, Conacher), 0:39
CT Deveaux, (12) (Newbury, Christensen), 1:26 (PP)
CT Tanski, (3) (Tessier), 3:49
CT Bourque, (3) (Tessier, Parlett), 6:33

Second Period
NOR Palat, (3) , 3:58

Third Period
NOR Ashton, (16) (Panik, Jackson), 6:10
NOR Conacher, (24) (Kostka), 6:28 (PP)
CT Tanski, (4) (Grant, Owens), 8:13

Richard Panik was the first star of the game. He assisted Carter Ashton on the goal to tie the game at 3-3, got cheap shotted by Aaron Voros shortly thereafter, but got his revenge with the tenth round shootout winner. I'm rather shocked Janus didn't get a star, but both he and his countryman Panik were very worthy tonight. In his last 10 games, the AHL is feeling the Panik attack to the tune of 5 goals and 9 points.

For those wondering, although not 100%, Mark Barberio did dress and play tonight. I'm not the official BP Tweetmeister, but if I were: #goodnewsforachange

Norfolk's trip to the pay window moves them to within 2 points of Hershey in the division with the Bears holding a game in hand. Norfolk draws Charlotte at Scope on Tuesday night. The Checkers have been one of the best teams in the Western Conference (don't ask) this season, so Norfolk will have their work cut out for them.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 1-12-12 Hurricanes at Lightning

It's sad to think with 40 games left to play the season may already be effectively over.

CAR-5
TB-2

Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 8 shots for the loss before giving way to Dwayne Roloson who allowed 2 goals on 24 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
CAR Ruutu (15), (Staal, Tlusty), 3:27
CAR Tlusty (8), (Staal), 4:41
TB Thompson (4), (unassisted), 14:36
CAR Harrison (6), (Ruutu, Faulk), 15:10
CAR Tlusty (9), (Staal, Ruutu), 16:18

Second Period
TB Purcell (8), (Gervais, Stamkos), 2:49

Third Period
CAR Brent (5), (Stewart, Harrison), 13:41

It's time for Steve Yzerman to throw the switch and to begin working the phones as a seller. If there was a team in the NHL I could've hand picked for the Lightning to get a win tonight, it would've been the Carolina Hurricanes. Even in their darkest hours, the Lightning have always seemed to torment Carolina. To get blown out 5-2 at home by a club they've effectively owned is a pretty prominent red flag that indicates the comeback in the standings isn't coming.

There are a lot of veterans on this team that will be unrestricted free agents who shouldn't be back next season that should be converted into draft picks and mid-level prospects. There's still more players that the Lightning need to make a decision about, because there are passengers on this roster. Not everyone is taking a beating like Steve Downie to try to win hockey games, and those players deserve scrutiny.

Last, it's time for some youth. It's time to give Brett Connolly more ice time. It's time to give a look to guys like Carter Ashton and Mark Barberio who are currently in the minors. The 2012-2013 season begins now, and the next 40 games should be devoted to finding a mix for next season that can go out and get this Lightning team back to the elite status we thought they were headed toward at the end of last season.

Connolly had 2 shots and 1 hit in 9:44. He's been in the 9-10 minute range since returning to the team from the WJC's. The way I see it, he needs to be playing with Stamkos and/or Lecavalier the next 40 games on a scoring line. Prepare him for next season. And, if he plays well, he'll make certain guys who aren't carrying their weight as alleged scoring threats even more expendable.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Prospect WJC Preview

Five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will proudly don their home country’s sweater this holiday season to compete in the Under-20 World Junior Championships. The WJCs are arguably the most exciting international hockey tournament outside of the Olympics and playing for one’s country during this event is a career builder.

Last year Carter Ashton, Brett Connolly, and Canada came up short in the finals, allowing five third period goals to Russia in the gold medal game to lose, 5-3. Host team USA beat Sweden for the bronze in Buffalo, New York.

The last Lightning prospect to win a gold medal was Dustin Tokarski for Canada in 2009 when “The Tik” was player of the game in the championship game – a win over Victor Hedman and Sweden. Dana Tyrell was also a part of that Canadian team, but was injured in pre-tournament action and missed the tournament.

Here’s a look at each Lightning prospect participating in this year’s event, to be held December 26 through January 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Check NHL Network listings for broadcasts.

AHL Game Night: 12-17-11 Admirals at Penguins

Norfolk's biggest win of the season thus far.

NOR-5
WBS-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the win. He snaps a brief 2 game personal skid in a spot where his club absolutely needed a win.

First Period
NOR Fornataro, (2) (Smith, Devos), 0:53 (PP)
NOR Ashton, (14) (Gudas, Jackson), 4:32
WBS Street, (10) (Henningson, Merth), 10:41

Second Period
WBS Lerg, (11) (Walker, McDonald), 1:42
NOR Johnson, (11) (Cote, Tokarski), 7:06
NOR Conacher, (18) (Smith, Jackson), 13:31
NOR Ouellet, (7) (Ashton, Angelidis), 19:40

Third Period
NO SCORING

Carter Ashton, Tyler Johnson, and Scott Jackson were the game's three stars.

For Norfolk, this was a huge game. They did not want to go into Hershey tomorrow trying to stave off the divisional sweep. That's a bad spot to be in on your 3rd game in 3 nights in one of the toughest buildings in the league to earn points in. They absolutely needed tonight's win to keep contact in the divisional hunt, and if they can steal a win from the Bears tomorrow, well that's just a bonus present in this holiday season. With the win, Norfolk is 2 points back of the Bears and Pens for the top spot in the East Division.

Carter Ashton (pictured) played well last night, but was Holtby'ed off the scoresheet on more than one occasion. He's starting to get active again, and that bodes well. Meanwhile, Johnson has 5 goals and 7 points in his last 8 games. That leads to an interesting question. Nate Thompson went out early in tonight's Lightning game and speculation is a forward may be recalled at some point. Is it Ashton? Is it Johnson? Trevor Smith?

Norfolk draws Hershey tomorrow at 5 pm. My guess is that Oberg rides the shuttle back for that game. When that game is over, the Admirals are off until 12/28. So, anyone's fair game for a call up from a manpower standpoint. The Lightning don't play again until Wednesday, when they start a 2 game swing through San Jose and Colorado. The question then is whether Matt Gilroy and/or Nate Thompson will be healthy, and whether Oberg and/or a forward will need to make the trip with the team and possible spend Christmas in Tampa.

No pressure, kids, but I suspect there will be some Tampa execs with eyes on the Hershey game.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-2-11

Yuck.

ADK-5
NOR-1

Jaroslav Janus allowed 4 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He's dropped 4 of his last 5 and his save percentage has fallen to .890. Considering Dustin Tokarski has won 4 of his last 5, there's some separation between the two that is being established.

First Period
ADK McGinn, (3) (Holmstrom, Akeson), 5:49 (PP)
NOR Ashton, (13) (Johnson, Jackson), 6:18

Second Period
ADK Holmstrom, (5) (Testwuide, Hamel), 7:23
ADK McGinn, (4) , 13:02

Third Period
ADK Jancevski, (2) (Harper, Kessel), 4:09
ADK Hamel, (10) , 14:50 (EN)

At least Carter Ashton broke his 5 game scoreless streak.

New Admirals Mike Kostka and Evan Oberg were not in the lineup for the Ads.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-22-11 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Nope, THAT was probably rock bottom.

TOR-7
TB-1

Dwayne Roloson allowed 6 goals on 21 shots for the loss before Mathieu Garon allowed 1 on 5 shots the rest of the way. 7 goals on 26 shots is pitiful. Was goaltending the reason for the loss? No. But you can't win with a save percentage that's an eyelash above .750. Can't do it.

I'm tired of puckhandling mistakes ending up in the back of the net. I'm tired of play acting leading to pucks ending up in the back of the net. These guys need to be playing a very stripped down very focused style right now, and not circus hockey. It's a zoo between the pipes every other game right now.

First Period
TOR Macarthur (7), (Gardiner, Connolly), 00:41
TB Lecavalier (9), (Stamkos, Malone)(PP), 8:38
TOR Connolly (3), (Kulemin, Franson)(PP), 17:56
TOR Bozak (3), (Kessel, Connolly)(PP), 19:22

Second Period
TOR Colborne (1), (Frattin, Liles), 17:45

Third Period
TOR Bozak (4), (unassisted), 3:07
TOR Lupul (11), (Bozek, Phaneuf), 4:28
TOR Crabb (3), (Frattin, Gardiner), 14:28

It was pretty pitiful to allow a goal right off the bat. Then the team responded and looked as good on the forecheck and on the power play as I think I've seen them this season up until Victor Hedman whiffed on what probably should've been a goal off a Marty St. Louis feed, and then took an unlucky 4 minute minor, and the wheels came off. And then the wheels came off again when Roloson once again showed why he should never stray from his net. It's embarrassing. I felt like I was watching a Brian Lawton/Rick Tocchet team, not a Steve Yzerman/Guy Boucher team.

The situation is not improving to any extent I feel comfortable with. I don't think huge changes have to be made, but I don't think the old, "The answers are in the room," is working. You can't tell me the guys in Norfolk are so bad that they aren't at least worth a look to see if they can inject some fresh blood and enthusiasm into the lineup. This team just looks flat at the start of every game and I honestly wonder how anyone could argue that things would be worse with Carter Ashton or Radko Gudas or Mark Barberio getting an opportunity. You can't tell me that Blair Jones and Bruno Gervais are so much better than those players that it isn't worth even considering, and I don't give a damn how far away the organization thinks Gudas and Barberio are. If you believe they'll bite as dogs they'll bite as puppies. What's the worse that could happen? They'd give up 7 goals to the Maple Leafs?

Brett Connolly had 1 blocked shot in 11:28.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-18-11 Admirals at IceCaps

TJ back to early season form.

NOR-6
STJ-2

Jaroslav Janus made 26 saves on 28 shots for the win.

First Period
NOR Ashton, (12) (Fornataro, Johnson), 5:27
STJ Postma, (3) (Machacek, Klingberg), 16:44 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Smith, (7) (Conacher, Dimmen), 1:22
NOR Smith, (8) (Conacher, Landry), 4:32
NOR Angelidis, (3) (Wyman), 11:11

Third Period
STJ Klingberg, (9) (DeSantis), 2:58 (SH)
NOR Johnson, (5) (Ashton, Conacher), 8:14
NOR Johnson, (6) (Barberio, Vernace), 15:35 (PP)

Tyler Johnson and Carter Ashton were the game's first and second stars.

Remember Tyler Johnson (pictured)? He had 6 points in the first 4 games of the season before cooling off with 3 points in the subsequent 11. And then, boom, 3 point night. There's so much depth on the Admirals and it's truly under-appreciated. Trevor Smith has 20 points in the first 17 games this season, and he's barely figured in the three stars discussions in each game. Heck, he's not even the team's leading scorer, because Cory Conacher has 21 points, and he doesn't even have a contract with the Lightning, yet. There's 4 players on the Ads (Conacher, Smith, Ashton, and Mark Barberio) that are currently over a point-a-game. It's impressive.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-6-11 Lightning at Panthers

Can you imagine how good this team would be if they'd play 60 minutes?

TB-4
FLA-3 (SO)

Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 12 shots before being lifted for Dwayne Roloson. Roloson bailed him out stopping all 28 shots he faced and all 4 shooters in the penalty shot session for the shootout win.

First Period
FLA Campbell (1), (Versteeg, Fleischmann)(PP), 1:49
FLA Kopecky (2), (Skille, Weaver), 13:05
FLA Santorelli (1), (Kulikov), 15:21

Second Period
TB Malone (4), (Stamkos, Brewer)(PP), 16:20
TB Stamkos (10), (Gilroy, St. Louis), 17:46

Third Period
TB Purcell (5), (Downie, Brewer), 8:11

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- Moore
FLA- NONE

Roloson, Steven Stamkos, and Teddy Purcell were the game's three stars.

My three stars would've included Steve Downie, who had the tying goal Kontos'ed from him by Teddy Purcell, and Matt Gilroy, who swooped into the zone late in the second period and then dished the perfect saucer to Stamkos to get the deficit down to 1 goal heading into the final frame.

For those who like to complain about Victor Hedman, I'll refer you to that first period as an example of why you should appreciate the young man. It took 20 minutes for the Lightning to adjust to playing without their bell cow on the backline.

I wish this team would figure out how to play a full 60 minute game. This 30-40 minutes of effort schtick is not going to keep getting them W's. The flat first periods have to stop.

We'll have to see about any potential long-term implications that come from Ryan Malone's injury tonight. The Lightning are off until Wednesday, so I suspect he'll be back, but if not: Carter Ashton?

Brett Connolly had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:37. He showed really good speed cranking up a 3/4 ice rush that ended up in a wraparound attempt in the third period. It'll be interesting to see that part of his game develop where he carries it more.

Blair Jones had 1 hit in 6:41. He's like an awful cacophony of legs and arms that couldn't avoid hitting you on the forecheck if he tried.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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