In the wake of the rash of injuries suffered in yesterday afternoon's game in Boston, the Tampa Bay Lightning have announced they recalled RW J.T. Brown and D Dmitry Korobov from Syracuse of the AHL. Brown and Korobov are two of the team's older, more tenured prospects in the system and both will look to get an opportunity to test their progress against NHL competition. Here's what to expect from each player:
Lightning fans should be a little familiar with J.T. Brown given he had a short 5-game stint with the Lightning in the 2011-2012 campaign after signing as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Brown has exceptional speed, above average skill, and willingness to stick his nose in on the forecheck despite possessing a slightly built frame. He looked to have a spot in Tampa Bay heading into the 2012-2013 season before the lockout and injury problems took his career track on a detour. Playing in Syracuse, Brown has since adopted to more of a two-way role playing on a checking line with Mike Angelidis in last year's deep playoff run, and in a complimentary winger's role as his alter ego, "J.T. Brownov," playing alongside Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov on the Crunch's top line so far this year. His grit and heavy shot are assets on that line. Brown's selection may mean that Alex Killorn will slide over to center and also signals that Jon Cooper may choose a more defensive-minded, two-way approach to dealing with the team's post-Stamkos injury reality.
Dmitry Korobov (pictured) will be looking to get his first taste of NHL action after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining the Lightning organization, the Belarusian Korobov gained a significant amount of experience playing for Dinamo Minsk in Russia's KHL. Last year, Korobov played on the top-two pairings for Syracuse for much of the season, and with Syracuse's youth movement along the blueline he's taken on an even greater role this year with the Crunch. Standing at 6'3" 230 lbs, Korobov's most obvious assets are his size and strength. He does not shy away from the physical game and does enjoy pursuing the big hit. He also has underrated puck-moving skills as demonstrated by the 22 points he put up with Syracuse last year to go along with a very solid +20 rating. Like Radko Gudas, Korobov is a fan of the hip-check. Korobov's weaknesses are that his skating, while adequate, sometimes suffers from sloppy footwork in his stop-starts and pivots and like any young defenseman, his decision-making sometimes isn't 100% spot-on. With the Lightning's lack of depth at this particular position, and Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie already struggling to begin with, Korobov has a golden opportunity right now to move up the depth chart quickly and make his case to stay in the NHL.
Syracuse's home opener takes on a distinctly Russian (and Belarusian) flavor.
Riku Helenius allowed just 1 goal on 18 shots for the victory. Life is good when your team gives you 5 goals of support and only allows a paltry 8 shots the first 40 minutes of the game.
SYR Brown, (1) (Nesterov, Namestnikov), 4:31 (PP)
SYR Sergeev, (1) (Connolly), 6:18 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (1) (Namestnikov, Taormina), 16:48 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (2) (Nesterov, Taormina), 0:24 (PP)
RCH Tardif, (1) (Varone, McNabb), 5:30 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (3) (Nesterov, Brown), 12:56
Nikita Nesterov, J.T. Brown, and Dmitry Korobov were the game's three stars. Bold choice by the Syracuse media not giving a nod to Nikita Kucherov, who introduced himself to the home fans with a hat trick.
For their part, the Russian/Belarussian trio of Nesterov, Sergeev, and Korobov (AKA the mythical 70's R&B cover band known as Eastern European Soul) got huge marks in the game. Nesterov had assists in triplicate and was +1 while Artem Sergeev scored his first professional goal, and Dmitry Korobov got himself involved in one of the big physical dust ups late in the game and earned the third star selection. That's a heck of a positive sign for the Crunch as these guys need to step up this year for Syracuse to continue the momentum they had last season as an elite level AHL club.
Rochester goaltender Matt Hackett got 16 penalty minutes in the game, including a roughing call, diving call, and unsportsmanlike call (all minors) in three separate incidents in the Second Period that he chased down with a 10 Misconduct and a Game Misconduct late in the Third Period. You don't often see an unglued mess like that between the pipes. Treasure the memory, Crunch fans.
Syracuse gets Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tomorrow at home.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Ten questions for this year's Lightning prospect season...
The most impressive win of the preseason.
7:31 TB Sergeev, (Filppula )(PP)
15:25 STL Steen, (Backes)
14:10 TB Connolly, (Filppula, Killorn)
15:12 STL Shattock, (unassisted)
15:59 TB Palat, (Johnson, Panik)
05:39 TB Labrie, (Filppula , Brewer)
07:28 STL Oshie, (Bouwmeester)
You don't want to overblow the importance of this game. It was, after all, a preseason game. But, in fairness, St. Louis pretty much iced their NHL side and the Lightning iced their third and fourth lines and a whole lot of prospect defensemen. To pull off the victory is an impressive case of a team fighting above its weight class, and at 3-0-0 so far in the preseason we're seeing, perhaps, that a different culture is rising up.
If you follow the ice time tonight, it was Mark Barberio's big showcase, garnering 22:22 in the match to lead all Lightning defensemen. Barberio was even on the night against, pretty much, the top weapons of a pretty good playoff team, so that's not a bad showing on paper for the young d-man. It's probably the minimum he needed to make sure he kept the upper hand in the fight for one of the last 2 defenseman spots on the roster. Artem Sergeev, surprisingly, also topped the 20 minute mark at 20:24, besting both of his Eastern European Soul Machine bandmates, Dmitry Korobov and the soulful Andrej Sustr.
Up front, the Lightning again got production and solid play from Brett Connolly, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Richard Panik. These four, honestly, may be giving the Lightning the luxury of being able to take their time with young Jonathan Drouin. And, certainly, the Lightning have to be pleased with their $5M per investment, Filppula, getting helpers in triplicate against what really amounts to the Blues' opening night d-corps and goaltender.
Box score from Tampabaylightning.com.
Syracuse's 4th liners help put up a touchdown on the Penguins.
Syracuse Wins the Series 4-1
Syracuse Win the Eastern Conference Championship
Cedrick Desjardins stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout victory. He was the player of the series, in my opinion. By stealing Game Three, a game where the Crunch played their worst hockey, he really put the Pens behind the eight ball and tonight was the finishing touch.
SYR Namestnikov, (2) (Sustr, Johnson), 16:04
SYR Gudas, (2) (Brown, Wyman), 16:56
SYR Paradis, (1) (Barberio, Sustr), 13:37
SYR Sexton, (4) (Devos), 15:31
SYR Palat, (5) (Sexton, Barberio), 17:58 (PP)
SYR Paradis, (2) (Sustr), 1:02
SYR Paradis, (3) (Sexton, Barberio), 5:43
Phillipe Paradis, Desjardins, and Dan Sexton were the game's three stars. Best line of the night? It was Syracuse's extra forwards Paradis and Cedric Paquette (whom I have dubbed "Dump Truck" for his fleet skating ability and work rate). With the Crunch up 2-0 at the end of the First Period, they seemed to take their foot off the gas the first 5 minutes of the Second Period. It looked like the Pens would make a game of it until the 4th liners came in and started to get zone time and turn the momentum back to Syracuse. They never looked back, and Paradis eventually ran up a hat trick for the ages. None of the goals were cheapies, either. Paradis has a surprisingly good shot and absolutely took Zatkoff to school on each one.
Another highlight? Dmitry Korobov beating the tar out of Paul Thompson. You know Thompson thought he was picking a winnable opponent going up against a Belarussian. Wrong. Korobov beat him like he stole a mortgage payment worth of money from him. Remind me never to get Dmitry Korobov mad at me. He rained fists down on the top of Thompson's head with tropical storm force. Wow.
Radko Gudas sat out the Third Period with what appeared to be a lower body bruise. Richard Panik again sat out of the lineup (making room for Dump Truck), but he was in the morning skate and one would assume he will be available in the next series. Grand Rapids looks to be on the way to winning tonight's game against Oklahoma City, which would knot that series up at 2-2. That means it could be half a week before the Crunch know who their Calder Cup Finals opponent is, and you hope it's a week where Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City beat the daylights out of each other while Syracuse heals. Whichever opponent makes it out of the West, Syracuse will have home ice to begin the series, so they've done just about everything they need to strategically to set themselves up to try to collect another title.
Box score from TheAHL.com.