When Panik attacks...
Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 13 shots before leaving at 9:30 of the Second Period for dropping the gloves with opposing netminder Robin Lehner (yes, that happened). Dustin Tokarski was flawless on 14 shots the rest of the way for his second victory of the season.
BNG Hoffman, (1) (Silfverberg, Zibanejad), 7:25 (PP)
BNG Cannone, (1) (Hoffman, Petersson), 9:18
BNG Eckford, (2) (Stone, Petersson), 1:35 (PP)
BNG Grant, (1) (Stone), 2:51
BNG Borowiecki, (1) (Claesson, Schneider), 6:35
SYR Conacher, (3) (Johnson), 10:29
SYR Barberio, (2) (Johnson, Connolly), 12:36 (PP)
SYR Connolly, (2) (Labrie, Korobov), 6:57
SYR Palat, (1) (Johnson, Panik), 11:39
SYR Wyman, (1) (Panik, Barberio), 16:18
SYR Panik, (1) , 3:44
Richard Panik (pictured) was the game's first star, assisting on the final two goals in regulation of Syracuse's comeback before bagging the overtime winner. That's how you break out of your early season mini-slump in style.
Tonight's win has to be considered a super concentrated, extra strength, team-building win. This was a vicious, nasty game that saw the teams rack up a combined 152 penalty minutes and reached the height of mutual contempt in the brawl between Lehner and Helenius at center ice. That, in and of itself, would make the W a sweet one. But, to crawl out of a 5-goal hole to get the 2 points? That's how you ingrain belief in the team concept. On the other end of the rink, Bingo not only blew a 5 goal lead, but they blew a 3 goal lead going into the Third Period, which should be a death sentence for the trailing team in professional hockey. That's going to be a devastating pill for them to swallow psychologically.
Aside from Panik, multi-point nights abounded for the Crunch, with Tyler Johnson racking up 3 helpers and Mark Barberio and Brett Connolly each getting 1 goal and 1 assist. Newcomer Dmitry Korobov also hit the scoresheet for the first time this season with a helper and was a solid +3 in the win.
Syracuse ended up outshooting Binghamton 42-27 in the game. The Crunch conclude the weekend tomorrow against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Fruitless on four previous power play attempts, the Syracuse Crunch found themselves with a two-man advantage for nearly two full minutes early in the third period Saturday.
"I had a few chances last night and tonight," Connolly said. "It's always nice to see the puck go in the net."
Syracuse hangs on hard against one of the league's perennial powers.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the victory, in a successful return to North American hockey. This battle between Helenius and Dustin Tokarski for the top spot between the pipes in Syracuse is going to rage all season, and both guys are going to be better for it. It's an embarrassment of riches to boast two guys who won championships last season in the AHL and Finnish SM-liiga, respectively. Good. Problem. To. Have.
SYR Angelidis, (2) (Wyman), 11:23 (SH)
SYR Johnson, (3) (Conacher, Palat), 5:36
HER Mitchell, (1) , 7:26 (SH)
HER Almeida, (1) (Taffe, DiSalvatore), 14:36
SYR Conacher, (2) (Taormina), 18:44
SYR Connolly, (1) (Barberio, Conacher), 5:02 (PP)
HER DiSalvatore, (1) (Kundratek, Taffe), 13:04 (PP)
Cory Conacher (pictured) and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. For my money, Conacher was the best player in the league the first half of last season and Johnson the best in the second half. Why wouldn't they lead the Crunch in the home opener this year? With a little offseason rest, Conacher looks every bit the pesky scorer that tore up the league to start last year.
No offense to our friends in Hershey, but I have to confess to being a little stunned that this year's version of the Bears is the least stacked, on paper, I've seen in a while. Sure, there's some fine players like Orlov and Holtby, but without the likes of Bourque or Giroux, this year's team lacks the fear factor of many recent editions. It's going to be interesting to see how the division plays out over the course of the season.
The Crunch travel to Albany next on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
A Syracuse comeback takes away a point on opening night.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 5 goals on 24 shots and 1 of 5 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. That's an ugly stat line for a young man trying to stave off a Riku Helenius challenge for the starting job.
RCH Tropp, (1) (Hodgson), 0:24
SYR Barberio, (1) (Namestnikov, Killorn), 5:28 (PP)
RCH Tropp, (2) (Adam, Schiestel), 14:52
RCH Foligno, (1) (Porter, Mancari), 16:12
RCH Pysyk, (1) (Rankin, Varone), 3:22
SYR Angelidis, (1) (Wyman), 19:14
SYR Conacher, (1) (Palat), 1:42
SYR Johnson, (1) (Conacher, Taormina), 8:01
SYR Johnson, (2) (Conacher, Palat), 10:09 (PP)
RCH Mancari, (1) (Brennan, Foligno), 12:42 (PP)
Cory Conacher (pictured) was the game's second star after posting 1 goal and 2 assists on opening night.Tyler Johnson had a pair of goals and Ondrej Palat also had a multi-point night with a pair of helpers. Youngster Vladislav Namestnikov also posted his first professional point on an assist on Mark Barberio's game opening goal.
I'm stunned that Syracuse threw out a shootout lineup of Palat, Connolly, Panik, Johnson, and Conacher and got nothing. That's five stud prospects with a lot of skill and... nada. I wouldn't have bet on that.
Syracuse outshot Rochester 34-25 in the game, and was very game to come out of a three goal hole to get a point out of the night. When Johnson pulled Syracuse ahead for the first time in the Third Period, you even had to think for a moment that maybe that killer instinct from Norfolk last season was still in effect. There was plenty of good, plenty of bad, and plenty of coachable moments for Jon Cooper to work on the team with after this one.
On to Syracuse tomorrow and the home opener against perennial power Hershey.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
At 22 years old, Tyler Johnson already has a tough time picking out the biggest accomplishment of his young career.
Success seems to follow the Syracuse Crunch center, who won the Memorial Cup in his first junior season, won a gold medal at the World Junior Championships, and hoisted the Calder Cup last year in his rookie professional season.
"Each specific trophy has great memories, and holds a different piece of my heart," Johnson said.
Despite the large void the NHL lockout created, the hockey season is already long underway. Various amateur and professional leagues throughout North America and Europe have wrapped up their preseasons and are set to begin or are already in the thick of regular season action.
The Lightning's new AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, open their 2012-2013 season tonight with an impressive roster that boasts the nucleus of last season's Calder Cup-winning roster and an infusion of talent with varying professional experience: (J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, Danick Gauthier, Riku Helenius, Dmitry Korobov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Jared Nightingale, Matt Taormina and J.T. Wyman). In the absence of big-league action, watching much of the (currently foreseeable) lifeblood of the Lightning's future skate and bond together is a much-welcomed tonic.
Riku Helenius got the shootout victory, stopping 3 of 4 in the penalty shot session.
Game story from syracusecrunch.com.
The Tampa Bay Lightning assigned 18 players to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL ahead of what appears to be an NHL lockout, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Among the players moving to New York are reigning AHL Most Valuable Player Cory Conacher, former No.6 overall pick Brett Connolly, and last year's late-season signing, J.T. Brown. Others include recently signed prospects Vladislav Namestnikov, Danick Gauthier, Dmitry Korobov, and Riku Helenius. The additions of Connolly, Brown, Namestnikov, and Korobov will make the Crunch a stronger team, which is scary considering they were already among the favorites to claim the Calder Cup.
The full list of new Syracuse residents includes forwards Brown, Conacher, Connolly, Gauthier, Alex Hutchings, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik; defensemen Mark Barberio, Radko Gudas, Korobov, Charles Landry, Dan Milan; and goaltenders Helenius, Dustin Tokarski, and Pat Nagle.
We'll offer some opinions shortly on who could end up in ECHL Florida with the Everblades and who likely stays in Syracuse.
The strength of the Lightning organization remains at the forward positions, where the team still boasts an impressive mix of star veterans like Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Ryan Malone, and the game's best young star, Steven Stamkos. The team will spend some of its offseason tweaking its third line, and they made overtures to Swiss star Damien Brunner to try to improve their scoring depth on the wings. But, ultimately, the team should feel pretty solid offensively. Keeping the puck out of the back of their own net has always been the bigger challenge.
With the Lightning prospect season finally completed, it is now time to turn our attention to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. While the team's prospect system enjoyed unprecedented success, the team's struggles at the NHL level last season left the Lightning with a draft pick bonanza after a bevy of pre-deadline deals. Heading into the draft, the Lightning currently holds a pair of first round picks, and at least one second round pick following the trade of picks 37 and 50 to Nashville in the Anders Lindback trade.