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Cirelli, Anthony

NHL Game Day: 3-3-18 Flyers at Lightning

Lightning and Flyers tilt the pinball machine.

PHI-6
TB-7 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 6 goals on 43 shots before stopping both shooters he faced in the penalty shot session for the SO win. It was 80's throwback day at Amalie Arena.

First Period
7:08 PHI Patrick (10), (Giroux, Voracek)(PP)
8:16 TB Stamkos (26), (Hedman, Kucherov)(PP)
14:30 PHI Voracek (14), (Patrick)
18:07 PHI Hagg (3), (Laughton, Provorov)

Second Period
5:57 TB Hedman (10), (Stamkos, Kucherov)
12:47 TB Girardi (4), (Stamkos, Hedman)
16:15 PHI Lehtera (2), (Weal, Filppula)

Third Period
1:06 PHI Provorov (12), (Filppula)
4:23 TB Miller (14), (Gourde, Point)
7:38 TB Stamkos (27), (Kucherov, Killorn)
10:03 TB Hedman (11), (Stamkos)
17:07 PHI Giroux (23), (Couturier, Provorov)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
PHI- NONE
TB- Point, Stamkos

Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were the game's first and second stars.

No doubt this game shaved years off the coaching staff's collective life, but you have to give credit to this team for at least having the fighting spirit to battle back from a two goal Third Period deficit to eventually grind out a win. If this were post-McDonoagh debut I'd be a lot more upset, but given the team is still playing with a bit of an improvised lineup I'll take the "W" and the entertainment value, and let's keep it moving.

Now sitting on a ripe 94 points, the Lightning are just a win shy of hitting that unofficial 96 point mark that should clinch a postseason appearance. If they can clinch that mark in their next contest that gives them a stylish 15 games to get tuned up for a potential deep playoff run.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 9:24. He was also 29% on 7 draws.

Adam Erne was -1 with 1 shot in 9:40.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 3-1-18 Lightning at Stars

Lightning win another wild one before heading home for a critical stretch at Amalie.

TB-5
DAL-4 (OT)

Louis Domingue allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the OT win. Honestly should've had a regulation win the Dallas getting the tying goal on a play where Seguin pitchforked Domingue into the net with about 4 seconds left on the clock.

First Period
1:02 TB Point (26), (Miller)
11:05 DAL Seguin (33), (Benn, Radulov)(PP)

Second Period
8:13 DAL Seguin (34), (Klingberg, Lindell)
9:20 TB Cirelli (1), (Hedman, Kunitz)
13:53 TB Killorn (12), (Paquette, Cirelli)
16:08 TB Stamkos (25), (Miller)

Third Period
1:50 DAL Ritchie (5), (Dickinson, Elie)
19:56 DAL Janmark (17), (Seguin, Faksa)

Overtime
4:19 TB Conacher (8), (unassisted)

Cory Conacher was the game's first star after scoring the winning goal coming down the right wing one on one for a backhander where he then batted the rebound out of mid air over Bishop's shoulder while sliding into the boards for the winner. An improbable goal for an improbable pair of opponents.

It was another gritty win for this group playing a makeshift lineup a la two games ago against the Maple Leafs. This one was keyed in large part by the energy and strong play by newcomer J.T. Miller and the NHL debut of young Anthony Cirelli. With the Lightning now on 92 points they move to within a mere four points of that magic 96 point threshold we look at as what you need to clinch a playoff berth.

So, with that said, the Lightning are about to go home for eight straight games at Amalie. My guess is they'll get Kucherov back from being out for two games with an upper body injury and we'll see the Lightning debut of McDonagh. So, this homestand is going to be critical not so much from a standings standpoint, but from the standpoint that the coaching staff has a lot of work to do to figure out the ideal pairings and roles for their newly constituted roster. One thing I loved tonight: they put Miller on the Point line. Miller's an Erik Cole style power winger with speed. Putting him with Point creates space for Brayden, and Point only needs a sliver of daylight to break open a game.

Cirelli's NHL debut featured 1 goal, 1 assist, and a +2 rating on 1 shot and 2 hits in 8:14. He was also 38% on 8 draws. He showed good speed and, above all, very good positioning and awareness for the full 200 feet of the rink. You just see the smart two-way game right away.

Adam Erne was -1 with 1 hit in 13:19. Got caught spectating on Dallas' third goal.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 2-28-18 Crunch at Marlies

Crunch clip division leading Marlies to keep the streak hot.

SYR-4
TOR-3 (OT)

Eddie Pasquale allowed 3 goals on 47 shots for the victory.

First Period
15:55 TOR Smith (22), (Johnsson, Timashov)

Second Period
0:23 SYR Cirelli (13), (Joseph, Dumont)
5:19 SYR Cirelli (14), (Thomas, Dumont)

Third Period
2:35 SYR Yan (10), (Dumont, Bodie)
9:27 TOR Borgman (2), (Smith, Liljegren)
19:27 TOR Mueller (14), (Smith, Johnsson)(PP)

Overtime
0:43 SYR Joseph (10), (Pasquale)

Anthony Cirelli and Gabriel Dumont were the game's first and second stars. Mathieu Joseph had the end to end rush for the GWG, as well.

Syracuse escaped the deadline with no subtractions while also gaining the services of Gabriel Dumont off re-entry waivers just before the deadline. They now have a five point lead on third place in the North Division and are seven points back of the Marlies for the top spot.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-26-18 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Before the new acquisitions come, Tampa Bay plays a wild one for the fun of it.

TOR-3
TB-4 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 30 shots before stopping all 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Stopped a Third Period penalty shot. Stopped an OT breakaway. Was a one man kill on a Second Period 5-on-3 PK. No complaints here.

First Period
1:41 TB Kunitz (11), (Sustr, Stamkos)
8:49 TOR Van Riemsdyk (26), (Hainsey, Rielly)
9:52 TOR Marner (17), (Gardiner, Zaitsev)

Second Period
3:52 TB Johnson (18), (Gourde)
15:18 TB Erne (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
5:27 TOR Bozak (10), (Marner, Rielly)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- NONE
TB- Point

Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne were the game's first and third stars.

Fun game. Wild game. The Lightning entered the game without the services of the departed Vlad Namestnikov with new acquisitions McDonagh and Miller still en route. Toronto was without the services of Austen Matthews, which was quickly balanced by the departure of Nikita Kucherov with an upper body injury. So, the script got thrown out early and this just ended up being a fast, physical, intense hockey game. Lots of goalmouth thrills. Lots of near misses. Some intrigue when Tyler Johnson left the game taking a refs skate to his leg, dropping Tampa Bay to just 9 forwards at one point. Crazy. Ultimately Vasilevskiy was the difference, with an assist to the all-powerful Espo Rule.

Brayden Point is pure filth in the shootout.

By my math, the Lightning need just about 7 points more to punch their ticket for the postseason.

Now we move into the final 19 games of the year with the Lightning coaching staff having the considerable challenge of integrating McDonagh and Miller into the squad. The Lightning came into the trade deadline needing a faceoff man, a right handed D, and some PK help. You could argue they've addressed all three to varying degrees, but it's going to fall on Bowness, in particular, to make some oddly fitting pieces all work. I think, most obviously, the Lightning PK will be way better following these deals and soon they'll get Ondrej Palat too, which will also help. That's the most obvious hole that got filled today. The RHD spot is a little more iffy. The Lightning have a very solid #1 and #2 LHD situation, and I suspect with Hedman as the clear top pair guy, McDonagh can get his time trimmed down from the 23-24 minutes he was playing in New York to more reasonable levels in the regular season that'll keep him fresher and healthier. Problem is, the only RHD they have you can absolutely trust is Stralman. The coaching staff will surely also tell you Girardi, as a well-seasoned vet, is dependable, but I would tell you only on well-managed levels of ice time. So I'll just throw this out there: time to move Sergachev to RHD and have him play his off hand. It's not an odd thing for European players, and particularly Russians, to do. It makes for better passing and shooting angles for an offensive-minded d-man. I think it's worth an experiment. Whatever the Lightning choose to do, with Hedman and McDonagh in the fold they now can be assured of having a #1 caliber d-man on the rink 45-50 minutes out of every 60 minute game. That doesn't stink. Last, faceoffs. Welp, here's where the fix is probably the shakiest. Miller is 54% on draws this year, which is nice, but he's just 49% for his career. It might be an addition by subtraction situation, though, because Namestnikov might well have been the worst faceoff man the Lightning had.

The loss of Howden and Hajek in the deal isn't insignificant, but it's also not a death knell for the Lightning prospect system. They have excellent centermen like Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli performing well in Syracuse and with Dominik Masin quietly having a whale of a season for the Crunch, the situation at LHD still looks good, too.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 shots in 7:49.

Erne had a goal and was +2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:57. He played a heck of a game on a strong forechecking line with Gourde and Johnson. Very strong on the puck and on the cycle.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-27-18 Marlies at Crunch

Johnsson's natural hat trick sinks Crunch.

TOR-4
SYR-2

Louis Domingue allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss.

First Period
2:57 TOR Mueller (9), (Moore, Rychel)(PP)
16:05 SYR Cirelli (9), (Joseph, Archambault)

Second Period
6:23 TOR Johnsson (18), (Valiev)
10:14 TOR Johnsson (19), (Kapanen, Holl)
13:44 TOR Johnsson (20), (Kapanen, Holl)

Third Period
19:04 SYR Volkov (12), (Stephens, McBain)

If you're looking for silver linings, Anthony Cirelli maintained a five game point streak since returning to the lineup from injury.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-26-18 Senators at Crunch

Crunch's young guns continue to roll on.

BEL-2
SYR-5

Connor Ingram allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory. He's 8-2-1 since taking over as Syracuse's starter with Domingue up top in Tampa Bay.

First Period
1:56 SYR Cirelli (8), (Joseph, Bodie)
15:28 SYR Tammela (3), (Bodie, Volkov)

Second Period
1:09 SYR Archambault (3), (Cirelli, Joseph)

Third Period
0:52 BEL Burgdoerfer (4), (Hogberg)(PP)
4:03 SYR Thomas (3), (Bodie, Tammela)
6:04 BEL Burgdoerfer (5), (McCormick, Doornbosch)
17:02 SYR Stephens (16), (unassisted)(EN)

Mathieu Joseph, Anthony Cirelli, and Mat Bodie were the game's three stars. Jonne Tammela (The Cobra!) chipped in his first multi-point game of the campaign, as well.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-19-18 Marlies at Crunch

Erne-less Crunch drop key game against division-leading Marlies.

TOR-4
SYR-1

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss.

First Period
2:25 TOR Moore (6), (Mueller, Rychel)(PP)

Second Period
4:30 TOR Smith (18), (Kapanen, Liljegren)(PP)
10:08 SYR Stephens (14), (Cirelli, Yan)(PP)
15:54 TOR Greening (9), (Marchment, Moore)

Third Period
16:41 TOR Johnsson (16), (Moore)(PP)(EN)

Mitchell Stephens was the game's second star after scoring his team-leading 14th goal of his rookie pro campaign.

Syracuse got Anthony Cirelli and Dennis Yan back in the lineup, but with Adam Erne still nicked up the Syracuse attack continued to sputter tonight against the division leaders from Toronto.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-17-18 Crunch at Senators

Crunch winning streak snapped in goaltending duel.

SYR-1
BNG-2 (OT)

Connor Ingram re-entered the nets for the Crunch after Louis Domingue's return to Tampa Bay and stopped 23 of 25 shots for the OT loss. That snapped a personal six game winning streak for Ingram.

First Period
3:22 SYR Stephens (13), (Joseph, Bodie)(PP)

Second Period[b]
18:55 BEL O'Brien (10), (McCormick, Chlapik)

[b]Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
2:13 BEL McCormick (6), (O'Brien, Burgdoerfer)

The Crunch offense may have been a little off kilter tonight with Adam Erne, Anthony Cirelli, and Dennis Yan all nicked up with injuries and out of the lineup. The club did get Mitchell Stephens' 13th goal of the season, Stephens has quickly and quietly ascended to the top of Syracuse's goalscoring list on the back of seven goals in his last eight games. His roughly three week rampage surely makes him yet another prime recall option for the Lightning's vacant roster spot, whenever they should choose to fill it.

With the point tonight, the Crunch are within three points of Rochester for second in the North Division with a game in hand on the Americans and five points back of first place Toronto with the Marlies holding a game in hand. The team's 9-1-0 run in their last ten games has put them within whisper's distance of catching the division's lead pack, which seemed nearly impossible just a couple of months ago when the team was languishing around last place.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Opinion: Lightning at the Halfway Mark

Forty games into a historic 2017-2018 season, let's take a moment to pause, step out of the moment, and take stock of where the club is. Sitting halfway through the campaign expectations for the team, which missed the postseason just a year ago, are sky high for good reason. Not only is the Lightning atop the NHL standings a full 13 points ahead of the pace they need to be in order to make the postseason, but the team leads a bevy of organizational and individual statistical categories.

Let's pump the breaks on prematurely planning a Stanley Cup championship parade, though. There's still half of the regular season and the postseason left to play, and as good as the team is, it's not without blemishes. How General Manager Steve Yzerman addresses those blemishes (or doesn't) and how any potential changes alters team chemistry (or doesn't) will have a lot to say about whether the team lives up to its perceived potential. So, with all of that in mind, let's look at how the team got here, what its weaknesses are, and what might happen next.

AHL Game Night: 12-8-17 Crunch at Devils

Crunch score five unanswered to extend winning streak to eight games.

SYR-5
BNG-2

Louis Domingue allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory.

First Period
0:57 BNG Bastian (5), (Kennedy, Quenneville)
16:46 BNG Bastian (6), (Kapla, Jacobs)
19:52 SYR Joseph (4), (Thomas, Bodie)

Second Period
3:09 SYR Verhaeghe (6), (Erne, Bodie)(PP)
4:45 SYR Gallant (1), (Masin, Cirelli)
7:35 SYR Cirelli (4), (Joseph, McBain)
17:19 SYR Cirelli (5), (Joseph)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph were the game's first and second stars. For Cirelli, if you're scoring at home, that's 2 goals and 6 points in the last 2 games. I'd call that an outburst.

Syracuse was sporting to spot Bingo a pair of goals, and then proceeded to blow the Devils straight off the rink, including a 4-0 Second Period that had to have been soul destroying for the home club. Syracuse started the season playing fairly tight defense, more or less, but couldn't find the goals en route to losing a slew of one goal games. Now they've got two lines rolling, and they're starting to take on the appearance of Crunchning Death Star II.

The Crunch are now in sole possession of third place in the North Division, 4 points back of second place Rochester, who are next in the crosshairs.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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