Crunch crushed by high-powered Marlies.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss.
TOR Leivo, (6) (Brennan, Arcobello), 6:24 (PP)
TOR Carrick, (3) (Brennan, Frattin), 4:40
TOR Gauthier, (2) (Campbell, Clune), 7:01
SYR McGinn, (3) (DeAngelo), 4:11 (PP)
Tye McGinn was the game's third star.
Toronto gave several of their stars the day off, including Bolt Prospects Alumni Richard Panik, and the Marlies still hardly looked threatened by Syracuse over the course of the game. Just two teams in a completely different area code in terms of depth.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Depleted Crunch fall to Portland.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss. After seeing Good Kristers in the last start he had, Bad Kristers reared his head tonight. Inconsistency is Gudlevskis' demon.
POR Brickley, (1) (Harper), 1:37
POR Schremp, (7) (Shaw), 12:09
POR Matheson, (2) (Balisy), 13:36
SYR Paradis, (3) (Richard, Gourde), 7:59
POR Olson, (1) (Gaunce, Balisy), 19:25 (EN/PP)
Philippe Paradis was the game's third star.
With 2 of the team's top forwards in Tampa Bay and Gudlevskis not on top of his game, things slid south almost immediately.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Gudlevskis stands on his head.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed just 1 goal on 48 shots for the victory. That's darned near shades of the Lightning's affiliation with Springfield territory, when guys like Boutin were having to fend off 50-some shots a game. He gets back on track and one ups Wilcox who has had a couple of good starts in a row and now we have two goaltenders cooking in the AHL in a way that the Lightning haven't seen since the heady days of Tokarski and Janus. This is good.
SYR Vermin, (3) (Nesterov, Mormina), 10:45
UTI Zalewski, (3) (Pedan, Fedun), 12:23
SYR Peca, (4) (Vermin, DeAngelo), 1:01 (PP)
Syracuse punctuated their victory tonight with a feverish 5-on-3 PK toward the end of the Third Period to seal the win.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch comeback dissolves into Third Period disappointment.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss. That's not exactly the kind of triumphant return one might've hoped for in Gudlevskis first action back from Tampa Bay. Then again, some rust due to inaction was probably inevitable.
ALB Thomson, (2) (Scarlett), 16:40
ALB Blandisi, (3) (Lorito, Sislo), 1:41 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (2) (Marchessault, Richard), 11:41
SYR Nesterov, (1) (DeAngelo, Vermin), 17:45 (PP)
ALB Blandisi, (4) (Lorito, Sislo), 4:03 (PP)
SYR Marchessault, (4) (Gourde, Richard), 8:21
ALB Kujawinski, (2) (Mozik, McKelvie), 14:38
It's a shame the Crunch spend all game crawling out of their initial 2 goal deficit only to relent the winner after getting the even footing for the second time in the game. Nikita Nesterov paid instant dividends in his return to the club by potting a power play goal that was the first equalizer toward the end of the Second Period. That's good news. Nesterov's regressed a bit early this year in Tampa Bay due to lack of action and a loss of confidence. Getting the chance to get more minutes, especially on the power play, is a good way for Nikita to get his swagger back. In the mean time, I'd expect a recall on the blueline to Tampa Bay for tomorrow's game against Minnesota (Slater Koekkoek?).
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Gudlevskis gets the Lightning across the finish line...
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the OT loss. Truth be told, the Lightning threw him to the wolves tonight with the hope that he would somehow be able to steal a point or two and he did. For the first time in his career, and I hate to possibly jinx it, he's starting to show some consistency game to game. He's as athletically gifted as just about anyone to come through this organization with his size and freakish quickness. If he starts to settle down a play consistently, he's a legit future NHL starter with those gifts, although it might not happen in Tampa with the logjam in the organization.
0:17 CHI Toews (1), (Kane, Seabrook)
Gudlevskis was the game's third star.
Even in defeat, as frustrated as they were on offense, the Lightning have to be ecstatic to get a point out of this game. They were coming off an OT game against Winnipeg last night against the defending champs in their barn with the organization's third string goalie between the pipes. Gudlevskis was as close to a sacrificial lamb as there is in hockey tonight as the Lightning made the strategic choice to try to get Bishop rested for the road trip finale in St. Louis. Under those circumstances, I'm happy.
The Lightning got their 4th point of the road trip and will finish no less than .500 on a swing through arguably the NHL's toughest division. That's nothing to sneeze at considering the Lightning aren't playing their best hockey yet. More importantly, Gudlevskis delivered the Lightning their 12th point of the season. For the uninitiated to the site, we break regular season hockey into 10 game segments. If you get at least 12 points every 10 games, you stay comfortably on pace to get to the playoffs. Gudlevskis got the Lightning over the 12 in 10 finish line tonight with 1 more game to go in the segment. Getting a couple of insurance points in St. Louis would be fantastic, but either way the Lightning fought off any potential Stanley Cup Final hangover and got their 12 in 10. Now, they need to do it again.
Nikita Nesterov had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 13:19.
Despite their best efforts to give the game away, Lightning pull 2 points from Winnipeg.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the OT win. That was certainly not Bishop's best effort. He looked shaky positionally and his rebound control was a bit of a hot mess and his puckhandling gaffe on Winnipeg's third goal was obviously inexcusable. However, he made key stops after that, including the stop on Little in OT, to insure that the team eventually got the opportunity to win the game. The big prize that comes out of that is it looks like they can play the freshly recalled Kristers Gudlevskis against Chicago with a clear conscience and finally give Ben his first rest of the season. With Vasilevskiy cleared to practice, hopefully Andrei can be back in another, say, 3 weeks and Tampa Bay can get Ben back into a more sane workload.
12:17 TB Coburn (1), (Johnson)
16:28 WPG Ehlers (2), (Scheifele, Perreault)
7:22 TB Paquette (1), (Condra, Hedman)
10:58 WPG Stafford (3), (Lowry, Burmistrov)
11:19 TB Namestnikov (3), (Paquette, Hedman)
1:17 WPG Wheeler (4), (unassisted)(SH)
0:36 TB Palat (2), (Stamkos, Hedman)
I'm absolutely ecstatic the team got this win, for reason I'll expound upon further later on, but I'm absolutely furious about how incredibly stupid they look defending teams on the rush so far this season. I just don't get how a team can look this braindead in coverage. No team in the NHL right now is better at turning what should be a harmless 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 stalemate coming at them on the rush into an odd man break and digging the puck out of the back of their own net. The d-men have an awful case of the yips anytime a forward is bearing down on them with speed right now, and the forwards aren't helping in the slightest by applying precious little backchecking pressure to help support their defenseman. The resulting brain crampage in positioning and communication is just intolerable to watch, and at some point Jon Cooper's got to get more aggressive with his players to correct the issue. This team won't win anything but a dog show defending the way they are right now.
On the good side, Cooper may have found another hundred dollar bill on the ground today by way of Brian Boyle calling into work sick. The makeshift line of Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette, and Eric Condra was, start-to-finish, the Lightning's most consistent and dominant line tonight. Namestnikov's been playing really well lately, so it wasn't that surprising to see him pump home a goal. Paquette and Condra have flashed individually this year but they haven't really found chemistry with any linemates to any great degree until tonight. That line's got a little bit of everything, and you could see them becoming a regular item if they have another game or two like tonight's. Namestnikov's and deft playmaker with some higher level puck handling acuity. Paquette and Condra have laser releases that are really surprising for lower line guys. And, all three of these guys are aggressive on the forecheck and the latter two in particular are strong at body positioning to win 50/50 pucks. This really could be found money for Jon Cooper, and the makings of a third really good line he can put on his goldenrod game plan in ink every night. Now he just needs to figure out what to do with Val Filppula...
As I noted, one of the big benefits of the win tonight is it means you can give Bishop the night off against the Blackhawks. Te reason for that is that the Lightning now have 11 points through 8 games, meaning they need just 1 more point out of the remainder of the road trip to hit their target for the first 10 game segment of the year. So, they'll likely send Gudlevskis out and hope he can steal at least a point, but even if he can't they'll have a rested Ben Bishop ready for St. Louis to close the trip in his home town to try and clinch a successful first 10 game segment of the year.
Tambellini leads the way.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the win. He was good tonight, and Syracuse needed him to be. As always, the question with Gudlevskis is going to be one of consistency and whether he can keep performing at the level he has through the first couple of games.
SYR Tambellini, (1) (Erne, Blujus), 0:16
BNG Schneider, (1) , 4:58 (SH)
SYR Tambellini, (2) (DeAngelo, Blunden), 17:43
Jeff Tambellini and Gudlevskis were the game's first and second stars.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch hang on for opening night win.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the victory. He didn't have a ton of work in the first half of the game, but made a handful of key stops at key moments in the second half of the contest to preserve the win, including a big glove stop at the end of the Third Period.
Click on any of the goals listed to see a GIF of the play.
LV Martel, (1) (Conner, Cousins), 16:31
It was kind of a tale of two games tonight, with Syracuse looking dominant in the first part of the game, only allowing the Phantoms chances on the odd unforced turnover and on the man advantage. They established a 4-1 lead in the Second Period and it had the look of a laugher, but they allowed Lehigh Valley to stick around and eventually spent the bulk of the Third Period protecting the dreaded 2 goal lead. They had a handful of very good forechecking shifts in the final frame to take some of the pressure off, but in the end it was a lot closer than it should have been.
Snap decision on this iteration of the Crunch is that they're very similar to last year's edition. Not surprising. They have decent speed but didn't look terribly threatening off the rush. Their bread and butter is still going to be the cycle and manufacturing those greasy goals, punctuated by the occasional laser beam from Marchessault (who was lethal tonight from the slot). With only one PP opportunity on the night, it's too early to judge if their extra man unit will be better than the travesty they called a power play last season.
As for the key newcomers, I thought Matthew Peca played a nice, responsible two-way game. He wasn't able to flash on the rush as I'd have expected, but I'm sure that'll come. Anthony DeAngelo got a helper for his first AHL point, but didn't get a chance to flash his offensive skill much in the game. Defensively, he reminds me a bit of Paul Ranger when Ranger was a rookie pro. That is to say, he's in the right zip code positionally, and even though he's not in perfect spots he's mobile enough to close the gap quickly. If he's anything like Ranger, he'll get sharper in that aspect as time goes on. Adam Erne had one very poor tripping penalty, but also showed a lot of the qualities that make him a valued prospect. He hits to hurt and he was very good on the cycle and on the forecheck in the Third Period as Syracuse was nursing the lead.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
All is right with the world...
Ben Bishop stopped all 18 shots he faced for the win before giving way to Kristers Gudlevskis, who allowed 1 goal on 18 shots the rest of the way. My going theory on the backup job the first two months of the regular season is this: the Lightning would be perfectly comfortable signing Ray Emery, but they'd really prefer to give Gudlevskis the gig. A solid performance like that is very helpful to Gudlevskis' cause.
12:29 TB Kucherov (1), (Peca, Namestnikov)
1:45 TB Condra (1), (Boyle, Erne)
10:59 TB Peca (1), (Callahan, Namestnikov)
12:26 TB Kucherov (2), (Drouin, Stamkos)
9:05 FLA Trocheck (1), (Pirri, Jokinen)(PP)
The Lightning may only be 1-1-1 through 3 games of the preseason, but I think the organization has to be pretty elated with everything so far, on balance. Emery and Gudlevskis have both played pretty well in their half game auditions and Wilcox showed potential. The younger guys you would hope will step up in Tampa Bay this coming season (Drouin, Namestnikov, Brown, etc.) have all played pretty well. Condra's seemingly fitting in seamlessly in that lower line equation. Key performers who will be counted on to step up for Syracuse this year like Peca are playing well and the wave of young defensemen who will probably start making their way to Tampa the second half of the year like Koekkoek, DeAngelo, Blujus, and Dotchin have all been pretty solid. Other than Sustr's performance in the second preseason game, I'd say the Lightning have checked off a lot on their to-do list thus far.
Mike Angelidis had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot and was 40% on 10 draws in 11:46.
Anthony DeAngelo had 2 penalty minutes in 18:26.
Slater Koekkoek was +3 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 18:21. He'll be in Tampa Bay by the playoff stretch of the season at the latest, in my opinion.
Joel Vermin had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 13:48.
Jake Dotchin was +3 with 2 shots in 18:46.
Peca had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 in 14:09. He also had 3 shots and was perfect on the 2 draws he took. It's an interesting question we've had among the Bolt Prospects staff when it comes to Peca: just how good will he be? I think our minimum expectation, based on his body of work at Quinnipiac, is that he'll be an AHL star (call it the Cory Conacher level), but will he go beyond it to become a smallish NHL star (the Tyler Johnson level)? Only time will tell, but he's had a strong start to this season, which is great to see.
Yanni Gourde had 1 hit in 11:43.
Adam Erne had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot in 13:25.
Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 3 hits in 19:41. Team high in shots. Wish I could inject that gene in one or two other Lightning players every season.
Too little, too late.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wins the Series 3-0
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 23 shots for the loss. He finishes the playoffs with the ugly 0-3 mark and an .833 save percentage after seeing his regular season save percentage slip to .900 at the finish line. He's a prospect at a crossroads.
WBS Wilson, (1) (Sheary, Ebbett), 7:53 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (1) (Witkowski, Peca), 16:53
WBS Sheary, (1) (Kostopoulos, Pouliot), 2:39
WBS Sheary, (2) (Wilson, Dumoulin), 1:59 (PP)
WBS Pouliot, (1) (Kapanen, Chorney), 4:30 (PP)
SYR Richard, (1) (Koekkoek, Gourde), 5:36
WBS Ebbett, (1) (Uher), 18:42 (EN)
Yanni Gourde was the game's second star.
This team accomplished a lot of good things this season, particularly when you look at the development of their young defensemen. It's a shame they just ran out of gas at the end of the season, because they showed amazing resiliency and the ability to really fight above their weight class all season long. There are some reinforcements coming in the way of some top Lightning prospects like Erne and DeAngelo next season, but it'll be critical for the team to find the right mix of veterans and semi-veterans to form the heart of the team next year.
We'll see which prospects go up top to join Tampa Bay as Black Aces. For the ones that do, it'll be a great opportunity to see what the big time is like up close.
Box score from TheAHL.com.