Koekkoek, Slater

NHL Game Day: 3-28-15 Lightning at Red Wings

When things go completely pear shaped...

TB-0
DET-4

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss. He was fairly sharp, although he seemed to let his focus waver a bit on the third goal, in which Nyquist beat out an icing call to one hand the puck on net.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
5:25 DET Andersson (2), (Quincey, Weiss)
7:19 DET Abdelkader (23), (Nyquist)
9:19 DET Nyquist (24), (Quincey)

Third Period
18:21 DET Glendening (11), (unassisted)(EN)

The game today was almost inconsequential. Jason Garrison was lost at 3:43 of the First Period after being boarded by Justin Abdelkader. At best, it appeared that Garrison might have a sprained shoulder. At worst, you might have some more severe damage to that shoulder or to the collar bone, etc. Looked like weeks to me. Compounding the issue, Cedric Paquette severely hurt his left leg bounding into the post to break up an EN attempt by Abdelkader at the close of the game. That looked like end of season, to me. It's really a shame, too, because I though Dump Truck was one of the few bright spots in today's contest. As it is, best case scenario, the Lightning are going to limp through the final games of the regular season and hope that they get Coburn and Garrison back for the postseason. Worst case, neither will be ready. And Paquette? Let's just say it's a very good think Namestnikov has come on the way he has, because I'm not sure the Lightning will be getting Ceddy back until the Fall.

The Lightning's division title hopes may have taken a mortal hit with the day's injuries, and their viability as a club that can have staying power in the playoffs has also potentially taken a nasty hit. Namestnikov will no doubt just slide into Paquette's roster spot, but there will likely need to be an emergency recall for Garrison while that situation sorts itself out. Garrison's a left sider, so while Luke Witkowski has gotten a look earlier this season, I'm left to wonder if perhaps Slater Koekkoek will get his first taste of the NHL now.

As for the game, it was one of those contests where the circumstances that unfolded seemed to just suck the life right out of the Lightning. It didn't help that the officiating was awful. Abdelkader probably should've gotten 5 and the gate for the hit on Garrison, and there were several other boarding calls on Detroit that went completely uncalled in the First Period. The Lightning survived that, but never found their legs and eventually saw the game snowball against them in the Second Period as the Wings managed to get a couple of goals off delflections and that one-hander that aren't normal goals. I wouldn't call them fluky, but they're just not things you see often, and that has a way of knocking the wind out of your sails, too.

Nikita Nesterov was -2 with 2 shots in 15:41. It was looking like he might be earmarked for a return to Syracuse at some point. Now, it's looking like he's going to be a regular in the team's top six the rest of the way in the regular season. His turnover led to Detroit's second goal, and he showed some signs of rust today, in my opinion. He had a harder time with the pace after being out of the lineup for so long. Hopefully, he catches back up quickly.

Vladislav Namestnikov was -1 in 10:11. Like everyone in white not named "Paquette" or "Morrow", his energy was off tonight. The Lightning announced they were burning one of their last two full callups before the game to keep Vladdy on the roster the rest of the year. Wonder if they can get a "take-back" with what happened to Paquette.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-20-15 Penguins at Crunch

Syracuse goes Koekkoek in Overtime.

WBS-1
SYR-2 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 28 points for the victory. That's just 1 goal allowed in the last couple of games.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Gourde, (25) (Dotchin, Courtnall), 8:17

Third Period
WBS Kostopoulos, (14) (Pouliot), 11:22

Overtime
SYR Koekkoek, (4) (Marchessault), 4:52

Slater Koekkoek and Gudlevskis were the game's first and second stars. If you look at the last 11 games, Slater has 1 goal and 9 points in that span, with a +6 rating. He's definitely turned a corner in his development in the past few weeks, as he's now sprinkling in the offensive contributions with his reasonably steady defensive play.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 2-28-15 Comets at Crunch

Gudlevskis gets his groove back.

UTI-1
SYR-4

One night removed from allowing 7 goals, Kristers Gudlevskis allowed just 1 goal on 39 shots to lead the Crunch to the win. Streakiness, thy name is Kristers Gudlevskis.

First Period
SYR Richard, (8) (Deschamps, Koekkoek), 6:24
UTI Shinkaruk, (7) (Blain, Huskins), 14:01 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Gourde, (21) (Namestnikov, Gudlevskis), 7:45 (PP)

Third Period
SYR Richard, (9) (Blujus, Ashton), 8:27
SYR Marchessault, (16) (Koekkoek, Namestnikov), 17:49 (EN)

Gudlevskis, Tanner Richard, and Kevin Lynch were the game's three stars.

Don't look now, but first rounder Slater Koekkoek is starting to pick up some steam with 6 helpers in his last 5 games, including back-to-back 2 helper nights. He's also +6 over that span.

Syracuse sits 1 point behind Hershey now for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-5-15 Lightning at Stars

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

TB-5
DAL-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy shined, allowing 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory. The Lightning would've had zero chance of winning tonight without Vasilevskiy.

First Period
3:11 TB Stamkos (28), (Callahan, Barberio)
6:42 TB Hedman (6), (Stamkos)

Second Period
15:21 DAL Klingberg (10), (Seguin, Goligoski)
15:36 DAL Goligoski (2), (Fiddler, Horcoff)

Third Period
12:27 TB Johnson (18), (Kucherov, Killorn)(PP)
13:41 DAL Daley (13), (Ja. Benn, Demers)
16:23 TB Johnson (19), (Boyle, Palat)
18:43 TB Kucherov (18), (Palat)(EN)

Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and third stars. Brian Boyle was robbed.

This was, in many ways, role reversal from the Lightning's performance in St. Louis. The Lightning were on their heels most of the night, ultimately getting outshot 36-29, and probably should've been run out of the barn if it weren't for the goaltending they got from Vasiy. Then things got really weird when Jason Garrison got hurt, forcing Brian Boyle to take shifts on defense where he made the play of the game on a clean check on Jamie Benn at center ice that eventually led to his point shot that was deflected in by Johnson for the GWG. Yes, Brian Boyle, from the point, on defense (not in the Conservatory with the Candlestick). Honestly, you can't feel too guilty about it because they deserved so much better against the Blues. So, things evened out on this little mini trip.

Unfortunately, if Garrison's injury is of any real severity, it puts the Lightning in a very tough spot with the California trip looming. Yzerman's basically got a week to bring someone in or he'll have to do something he probably doesn't want to do like raid the already thin cupboard in Syracuse. Paging Slater Koekkoek?

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 13:47. It was a hard luck minus with Daley's shot off the rush hitting Witkowski's leg and deflecting past Vasiy.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-19-14 Crunch at Wolf Pack

The yak is still on the loose.

SYR-2
HFD-0

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 24 shots he faced for the victory and his first shutout of the campaign. He's won his last 4 starts allowing just 3 total goals in the last 3 of those starts, while running his season save percentage back up to .906 in the process. Now things get very interesting in Syracuse, once Vasilevskiy returns, because this is what we expected coming into the year. These are two of the best prospect netminders around, and they'll be in a knock-down, drag-out for starts all season long. The competition is going to push both guys to play better than they ever thought possible. It's going to be great to see unfold.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Richard, (5) (Koekkoek), 2:12
SYR Namestnikov, (3) (Nesterov, Marchessault)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Gudlevskis and Tanner Richard were the game's first and second stars. As of this posting, Richard's +18 mark is second best in the AHL behind the +21 of Manchester's Nick Shore. I should also point out that, on top of the game winning helper he had tonight, Nikita Nesterov hasn't had a minus game in a full month, when he had a -1 outing on 11/19 against Hartford. He's been +9 since that game, taking him up to +9 for the year. He was -2 last year and the 13 points he has in 28 games this season is 3 off the 16 he posted as a rookie in 54 games last season. So, like Richard, here's a player who had some holes in his game who seems to be rounding the corner a bit. Nice to see. Slater Koekkoek, oh by the way, has helpers in 3 of the last 4 games.

Tomorrow, Syracuse draws Albany at home.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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