Koekkoek, Slater

AHL Game Day: 2-10-16 Crunch at IceCaps

Fucale robs Syracuse again.

SYR-3
STJ-4 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 19 shots for the OT loss. His save percentage has now slipped to .901 on the season.

First Period
STJ Bartley, (1) (Johnston), 3:26 (PP)
STJ MacMillan, (6) (Bozon, Johnston), 7:01 (PP)
SYR Koekkoek, (4) (Walcott), 7:57
SYR Blujus, (4) (Koekkoek, McGinn), 14:26 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Yogan, (3) (Walcott), 16:30

Third Period
STJ Scherbak, (5) (Ellis, Hudon), 5:00 (PP)

Overtime
STJ Hudon, (15) , 1:45

Slater Koekkoek was the game's third star. His 1 goal and 1 assist today marked his first multi-point effort of the season.

St. John's goaltender Zachary Fucale again allowed his team to overcome a significant shot disparity to get the 2 points. In this second game of the set, Syracuse outshot the IceCaps 39-19 and again failed to secure the victory.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-8-16 Lightning at Senators

Costly clunker in Canada's capital.

TB-1
OTT-5

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 28 shots for the loss. He wasn't at fault for the L, but his softie in the Second Period essentially ended the game by allowing Ottawa to build the 3 goal lead.

First Period
5:23 OTT Smith (11), (Stone)
16:51 OTT Prince (3), (unassisted)
17:25 TB Brown (6), (Coburn, Callahan)

Second Period
4:41 OTT Stone (15), (Pageau, Zibanejad)(PP)
10:46 OTT Stone (16), (Ceci, Pageau)

Third Period
15:22 OTT Pageau (13), (unassisted)

The Lightning came out flat tonight and never, ever got their legs underneath them. They were consistently beaten to loose pucks and they turned over the puck far too much. They deserved to be run out of the rink tonight, and they eventually were. When you fail to respect the game and your opponent, this is the end result. The bigger problem, though, is Jason Garrison missed the last two periods of the game with a lower body injury. Short of Ben Bishop getting injured, an injury to one of the team's top-four defensemen is one of the losses the team simply doesn't have the depth to cope with. It's pretty clear that the team doesn't have faith in Matt Carle anymore and they shouldn't have faith in Sustr and Nesterov moving up in minutes from the niches they're in, either. At a certain point, I really hope they start getting Slater Koekkoek more NHL experience for just this type of problem. I'd hate this to happen in the playoffs and Slater still be completely wet behind the ears.

Nikita Nesterov was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 18:25. He did have 4 shot attempts, but honestly, if you weren't named "J.T. Brown" you want to burn the tape tonight if you were in a Lightning jersey.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-23-16 Crunch at Senators

Season-high point streak for the Crunch.

SYR-3
BNG-2

Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 23 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR McGinn, (15) (Peca, Taormina), 9:28
BNG Schneider, (13) (Kostka, Dzingel), 14:55 (PP)

Second Period
BNG Kostka, (3) (Flanagan, Robinson), 15:22

Third Period
SYR Koekkoek, (3) (McGinn, DeAngelo), 7:21
SYR Taormina, (8) (DeAngelo), 9:21

Matt Taormina and Tye McGinn were the game's first and third stars. Anthony DeAngelo was just a goal away from the Gordie Howe hat trick, as he had two helpers, including one on the GWG, and a fight in a very full Third Period for the highly touted prospect. It was DeAngelo's second fighting major as a pro after he had his first earlier this month against Toronto. Slater Koekkoek broke a 10 game streak of games without points with the goal to tie the game up the contest in the Third.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-31-15 Crunch at Penguins

Vasiy stands on his head.

SYR-4
WBS-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory including a sparkling "double save" in the Third Period to preserve the win that was the stuff of legend.

First Period
WBS Dea, (9) (Clendening, O'Neill), 7:03 (PP)
SYR Erne, (3) (Blunden, Richard), 15:56 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (6) (Richard), 18:22

Second Period
WBS Gill, (1) (Simon, Kuhnhackl), 8:16 (PP)
SYR Erne, (4) (Darcy, Broll), 9:35

Third Period
SYR Koekkoek, (2) (McGinn, Witkowski), 18:49 (EN)

Adam Erne and Mike Blunden were the game's first and third stars.

That's 3 goals and 5 points in the last 5 games for Erne, and after going the first 22 games of his season without a goal, Slater Koekkoek has gotten on the board in 2 of the last 3. The high draft picks continue to come through for Syracuse.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 12-27-15 Crunch at Comets

Syracuse falls short and falls back to .500.

SYR-2
UTI-4

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 31 shots for the loss.

First Period
SYR Blujus, (3) (DeAngelo, Darcy), 3:09 (PP)
UTI Shields, (1) (Grenier, Shinkaruk), 17:56

Second Period
UTI Kurtz, (1) (Negrin, Zalewski), 3:55
SYR Koekkoek, (1) (Taormina, Richard), 13:27 (PP)
UTI Landry, (1) (Subban, Gaunce), 17:45

Third Period
UTI Syvret, (2) (Shields, Friesen), 2:53

Well, at least Slater Koekkoek potted his first goal of the season. He's been the one top pick for Tampa that hasn't been hitting the scoresheet regularly despite some thoroughbred offensive instincts.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-6-15 Devils at Crunch

Crunch comeback dissolves into Third Period disappointment.

ALB-4
SYR-3

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.

First Period
ALB Thomson, (2) (Scarlett), 16:40

Second Period
ALB Blandisi, (3) (Lorito, Sislo), 1:41 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (2) (Marchessault, Richard), 11:41
SYR Nesterov, (1) (DeAngelo, Vermin), 17:45 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Blandisi, (4) (Lorito, Sislo), 4:03 (PP)
SYR Marchessault, (4) (Gourde, Richard), 8:21
ALB Kujawinski, (2) (Mozik, McKelvie), 14:38

Yanni Gourde and Mike Blunden were the game's second and third stars.

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.

NHL Game Night: 10-17-15 Sabres at Lightning

Bishop is the truth.

BUF-1
TB-2

Ben Bishop. 1 goal on 32 shots. Multiple key saves with high degrees of difficulty. He took the Lightning on his back tonight, and allowed them to survive a very subpar effort with their #1 defenseman, Hedman, out of the lineup. He was absolutely impressive, and one of the things I really love about Ben is he pretty much never has two poor games in a row. He was subpar against Dallas. Wipe the slate clean. He was a superstar tonight.

First Period
2:52 BUF Reinhart (1), (Ennis)

Second Period
13:41 TB Namestnikov (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
16:03 TB Killorn (1), (Johnson, Palat)(PP)

Alex Killorn and Bishop were the game's first and second stars.

A win's a win, but mercy was that an ugly win. Tampa Bay was outshot 32-22 and probably outchanced by a similar margin by a Buffalo team that is still pretty wet behind the ears. Part of it is almost certainly from losing their number one defenseman, Hedman, but it's still an unacceptable effort. They struggled to get out of their own end all game long, and when they did get out they looked pretty disjointed in the offensive zone. It was so bad that Cooper broke up the Triplets and the Stamkos line and pretty much benched Jonathan Drouin for most of the Third Period after he hot dogged it on a power play in the latter half of the Second Period. I expect Jon Cooper to strip several coats of paint off the walls in that video session once they chop up this debacle.

Fortunately, the did get the two points, and it's a very important two points as the team tries to stay on schedule in the first ten game segment of the year. These first couple of segments are very critical to help fight through any ECF hangover from last season. They need 4 points in the final 4 games of this segment to make it good.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 10:21. He was partly culpable for the Sabres' goal, although the lion's share of the blame should go Filppula's way. Putting that play aside, though, you had to really like what you saw tonight. Koekkoek was very active at both ends of the rink, and at times was doing a Hedman Lite routine with more physical edge. Salary cap and waiver eligibility issues are the only things keeping him off the Lightning roster right now, in my opinion, and I truly believe he'll be in Tampa full time after the trade deadline, at the latest.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Koekkoek, Witkowski Work Together in Return to Crunch


By Jeremy Houghtaling

After being two of the final cuts from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s training camp, Slater Koekkoek and Luke Witkowski are back together on the Crunch blueline.

The two defensemen, paired together for the Syracuse season opener in Lehigh Valley Saturday, have quickly renewed the chemistry that made them one of the team’s top defensive duos last season. Both are working at rounding out their games as they prepare to take the next, permanent step to the National Hockey League.

“They both had real good camps and Tampa was happy with both of them,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. “There’s players up there that have established positions, and they have to understand that. But the other part is that they still need to work on some of the things in their game that they can get better at. They’re both very good hockey players and able to play in the NHL, but both can improve and keep getting better.”

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-26-15 Lightning at Stars

Emery opens the door in the Third Period. Will Gudlevskis step through it.

TB-3
DAL-6

Ray Emery allowed 6 goals on 26 shots for the loss in his first full game of action in the preseason. The stat line is ugly, especially in the Third Period where he allowed 3 goals on 9 shots. My theory remains the same: I think the Lightning would be thrilled for Kristers Gudlevskis to take the backup job in October and November until Vasilevskiy returns, but they're not going to hand it to him. He has to win it from Emery and right now Emery opened the door to Kristers.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
0:42 TB Namestnikov (1), (Nesterov, Drouin)(PP)
4:17 DAL Lindell (1), (Honka, Shore)(PP)
11:09 DAL Seguin (1), (Klingberg, Sharp)
13:24 TB Drouin (1), (Blujus, Marchessault)(PP)
18:21 DAL Sharp (1), (Seguin, Smith)

Third Period
2:01 TB Koekkoek (1), (Gourde, McGinn)
4:59 DAL Ully (1), (Smith, Goligoski)
6:47 DAL Seguin (2), (Ranford, Johns)
7:18 DAL Ranford (1), (Shore, Lindell)

The result tonight wasn't terribly surprising. This was another case of Dallas playing most of their NHLers against a depleted Lightning lineup that was sitting out its top two lines and best defensemen. Still, it's disappointing to have a game tied 3-3 early in the Third Period and then surrender 3 goals in less that 2 and a half minutes to spoil it. You'll no doubt see cuts en masse now as Syracuse Crunch camp is about to start overseas.

Matt Taormina was -1 with 2 blocked shots in 21:34. He'll likely be packing for Crunch camp now. I don't anticipate a lot of danger that he'll be plucked off waivers.

Slater Koekkoek had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots in 18:37. He's played well. I wouldn't be shocked to see him get an extended look, but I'd guess the nature of Syracuse's overseas camp probably makes it harder to keep him with Tampa Bay.

Brayden Point was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 15:19. He was also 23% on 13 draws. He's just a puppy, age-wise, and I'd expect the Lightning to pull the trigger here soon to send him back for his final season of junior hockey.

Tanner Richard was -1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 13:55. He was also 36% on 11 draws. Suspect he'll have some family and friends make the trip over from Switzerland to watch him during Crunch camp.

Jonathan Marchessault had a helper and was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 15:30. Maybe a slight chance he'll get plucked off of waivers if the Lightning do indeed choose to make the move right now.

Philippe Paradis was -1 with 5 hits in 11:41. Crunch camp, no doubt.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 3 blocked shots in 17:16. I believe he's waiver eligible, too, but suspect he'll make it through.

Henri Ikonen was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 4 blocked shots in 13:54. Another likely Crunch camper.

Yanni Gourde had a helper and was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 16:09. Another likely Crunch camper.

Dylan Blujus had a helper and was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 20:21. Third on the team in ice time tonight. I've been pretty pleased how he and Dotchin have played along side the more obvious suspects like Koekkoek and DeAngelo. He's another likely Crunch camper, but the Lightning should feel a lot better about their future at that position than they did at this time even a year ago.

Nikita Nesterov had a helper and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 21:19. Just 1 shot on goal? Does Nikki have a cold?

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-25-15 Panthers at Lightning

All is right with the world...

FLA-1
TB-4

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.

First Period
12:29 TB Kucherov (1), (Peca, Namestnikov)

Second Period
1:45 TB Condra (1), (Boyle, Erne)
10:59 TB Peca (1), (Callahan, Namestnikov)
12:26 TB Kucherov (2), (Drouin, Stamkos)

Third Period
9:05 FLA Trocheck (1), (Pirri, Jokinen)(PP)

Matthew Peca, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's three stars.

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.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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