Dmitry Korobov got the call he had been waiting for -- from teammate Vlad Namestnikov.
Korobov, the hard-hitting Belarusian on the Syracuse Crunch blueline, was having phone troubles, so the message from Crunch coach Rob Zettler about Korobov's first National Hockey League call-up arrived through Namestnikov.
"I was a little shocked, happy, and nervous at the same time," Korobov said through Namestnikov, who helped translate. "Mostly happy."
After playing one game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, being sent back to the Crunch, and making the round trip again, Korobov got a taste of what he came to North America for. Now he’s working to earn more of those calls -- no matter who they’re from -- and eventually a permanent role in the NHL.
Lightning hit a fork in the road.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots for the loss. Unlike Phoenix, there's not a lot I would fault Bishop for. Lots of deflection goals and one breakaway goal. Oh, and Killorn deciding to go Clint Dempsey into his own cage.
14:58 LA Kopitar (6), (Doughty, Williams)
16:49 LA Frattin (2), (Voynov, Stoll)(PP)
2:38 LA Williams (8), (Doughty, Kopitar)
15:08 LA King (7), (Vey)(SH)
16:17 TB Filppula (9), (Hedman, St. Louis)(PP)
17:15 LA Brown (4), (Frattin)
1:22 TB Hedman (4), (Johnson)
That was a pretty disgraceful effort to put out on the ice for your captain's 1,000th NHL game. And, no, I'm not talking about the Kings' first 3 goals, 1 of which was a perfect shot, 1 of which was a perfect (lucky) deflection, and 1 of which Killorn kicked into his own net. Those things happen. What had to leave Marty lingering on the bench muttering to himself after the game was how poorly the team responded after that adversity. 9 shots on goal through 40 minutes was piss poor, especially considering how shaky Scrivens looked at times. When you compound that by not putting forth the effort on the first half of a 4 minute power play, leading to a SH goal against, and a horrendous Connolly turnover leading to the Kings' 5th goal, that's how you allow a few bad breaks to snowball into a catastrophe. And I suspect I know what Marty is thinking: if you hustle and if you don't make soft, unforced errors at your blue line, you get out of that period down 3-1, possibly. Then Hedman's semi-soft goal on Scrivens early in the Third Period would've meant something and the Lightning's push in the final frame would've been to steal a point against a quality opponent rather than to try to avoid the inevitable wrath of a Head Coach that hates to lose even more than he likes to win. Now the Lightning have dropped their first consecutive games of the season with another tough game coming up, and they're at a fork in the road. The question is, are they going to cave in here or are they going to put the effort in to stay competitive? That's what I want to see right now. The result is obviously the big thing, but let's start with the building blocks of making sure that the team doesn't look comatose for 40 minutes of a game.
Radko Gudas had 4 hits and 1 blocked shot in 21:18.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and 3 shots in 17:56. He was also 39% on draws. He was a big part of the push the Lightning put on in the Third Period and he nearly snuck one past Scrivens in the First Period.
Alex Killorn was -3 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 12:01. He and Brett Connolly were a waste receptacle conflagration tonight. I see stupid offensive zone penalties. I see sloppiness with the puck. I see very little being generated on the forecheck. I see why his ice time took a nose dive. That line needs to be broken up and Connolly may need to sit a game in the stands to think about what occurred tonight. And, Killorn may need a turn on a checking line to get reoriented on playing a simple game.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:39. Another decent night on the PK and he was helpful with his fellow kid liners in the Third Period garbage time push.
J.T. Brown was -2 with 2 blocked shots in 13:04. His line did precious little at even strength, which isn't a direct reflection on his play, but you'd like him to really be the first man in on that line with Filppula and Purcell. I understand all the early penalties really hampered the ability of that unit to get into the flow, though.
Dmitry Korobov had 1 hit in 13:04 in his NHL debut. It was a mixed bag for Dmitry. I thought he had a pretty solid little First Period at both ends. He looked pretty good under duress in his own end moving the puck out of trouble and he threw a puck toward the net (uncredited by the scorers) that led to one of the few opportunities for the Lightning in the opening frame. He got less ice time in the Second Period because of all the special teams play and a little extended Third Period garbage time against a little more quality opponents. And, that was about what I would expect from Dmitry. He put a big pop on Dustin Brown along the boards and had a nice long pass to spring an offensive chance on the positive side of the coin. On the negative side, he made an odd unforced error (Korobov does it 1-2 times a game in my experience, a la a young Kubina) to move the puck to an open point in his own end where a Kings defenseman was waiting to pounce and there was one wide rush where his slow footwork was slightly exposed. I'd say it wasn't a big net positive or negative game for Dmitry's stock. But, that said, I felt he showed he's certainly better under duress in his own end than Barberio and that he has more two-way game than Aulie ever dreamed of having. So, there's something to work with there, warts and all.
Richard Panik was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:53. Would've been nice for the kid line to get one during that Third Period push for their confidence.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie was -1 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 8:44. I have no idea why he exists right now. He had one or two good forechecking shifts, but that doesn't offset his skating liabilities defensively, and you'll have a hard time explaining to me why Malone is running around trying to start fights when a game is out of hand like that but Labrie isn't. His whole role is supposed to be to spark the team on a night when they're flat like they were tonight, and he just didn't do anything. Again. He seems like a genuinely nice person and he's a great story. But, if the Lightning are down 4 goals and flat as a pancake, he needs to be challenging the other team's entire bench to a fight. Period. Or, he's no use to anybody. And, if that's the way it's going to be, I'd just as soon see his spot filled by someone like Philippe Paradis who might actually do something to light a fire under the butts of his teammates. I'm not saying it to be mean. The trigger has no heart, and Labrie needs some tough love right now because it feels like he's got a bit of role/identity crisis right now.
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.
By the skin of their teeth...
Series Tied at 1-1
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 18 shots for the victory. If someone can explain to me what case of amnesia struck he and his defensemen on the second Penguins goal, I'd love to hear it. They forgot they were in a playoff game and they almost set in motion events that could've cost them what should've been an easy win.
SYR Sexton, (3) (Connolly, Barberio), 18:56 (PP)
SYR Taormina, (2) (Angelidis, Sustr), 7:07
WBS Mormina, (1) (Dumoulin, Kolarik), 8:13 (PP)
SYR Korobov, (1) (Gudas, Palat), 11:40 (SH)
WBS Holzapfel, (4) (Grant), 14:02
You'll rarely see a game as one-sided as this one was for the first 50 minutes or so. Syracuse dominated territorily and on the shot board, holding the Pens to just 1 shot in the entire First Period. They played like you expect them to play with very good efforts by J.T. Brown and Vladislav Namestnikov, among others, with Dmitry Korobov blowing the game open a bit with a shorthanded goal that he whistled by Thiessen top shelf.
And then all hell broke lose. An accidential collision had Tyler Johnson limping off the ice not to be seen again, and we don't know if he'll be available for Game Three Wednesday. A bizarre play where the D and Desjardins looked like a bunch of clueless 5 year olds led to a second Pens goal, and the next thing you know the team was holding on for dear life in the final 5 minutes.
This is what the Penguins wanted. They have to turn this series into a war of attrition to have a chance. Syracuse needs to go to their barn and steal home ice back Wednesday and take control back of the series. They have the pieces to do it, even if Johnson can't go. But, man, that's as disorganized as I've ever seen a SyraNo team protecting a lead late in the last 2 years. That was terrifying.
Side note: when his playing days are over Jared Nightingale has a future in broadcasting, having heard him on a few Syracuse games now. That's not a shot on other players who have done it for the affiliate over the past couple of years, but Nightingale's got the chops for it.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Wow. I feel like we need to issue a formal apology to all our friends in Norfolk for that savage beat down tonight.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. For those wondering, Pat Nagle has been backing up Desjardins because Riku Helenius had some family issues back in Finland that required attention. Hopefully Riku will be back for the playoffs.
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Wyman, Brown), 14:20
SYR Johnson, (34) (Sexton, Wyman), 14:58
SYR Wyman, (13) (Palat, Johnson), 19:02
SYR Namestnikov, (7) (Devos, Connolly), 11:56
NOR Maroon, (25) (Guenin), 13:32
SYR Johnson, (35) (Palat, Sexton), 19:11
SYR Johnson, (36) , 7:48
Tyler Johnson, J.T. Wyman, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. The freshly minted AHL MVP, Johnson, celebrated with an incredible 3 goal, 4 point effort to start off a 3 game weekend set that will be so critical for playoff position.
Brian Lee was +4 in the contest. Several members of the Bolt Prospects message board's heads just exploded after reading that. Mind you, he also took a major for slashing and got kicked out of the game. I would suspect a suspension may follow.
Two games remain in the regular season. Providence toppled Springfield tonight 5-3, which clinches the top seed in the East for Providence. However, with Springfield going down and Syracuse winning, the Crunch now move to within 2 points of the Falcons with a game in hand. The Crunch also expanded their division lead over Binghamton to 3 points after Bingo lost to Manchester tonight. Each team has 2 games left on their schedules, including the head-to-head matchup Sunday. The loss for Norfolk was a particularly bad one with the Admirals, at this moment, in a 4-way tie at 79 points for one of the last 2 playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. How deeply ironic would it be if Syracuse had to face Norfolk in the first round? That prospect looks much more remote after tonight, but it's still at least on the edge of the table right now.
So here's the schedule for Saturday: Springfield draws Adirondack (eliminated from playoff contention), Binghamton gets Hershey (one of the clubs in that 4-way tie), and Syracuse gets Worcester (eliminated from playoff contention). Syracuse can make the division elementary with a win, thereby clinching not less than the 3 seed for the playoffs. Jumping Springfield may be a harder task for the Crunch with the Falcons likely holding the tiebreak at the finish line with a 2 game lead in the regulation win column right now.
Some other accounting issues heading into the end of the regular season:
- Syracuse still leads the AHL in goals scored by 10.
- Tyler Johnson is 8th in the AHL in scoring and Brett Connolly is currently tied for 10th.
- Mark Barberio is in 6th amongst AHL defensemen in scoring.
- Johnson also leads the league in goals by 3 with Connolly tied for 4th.
- Johnson is also 6th in power play goals.
- Connolly is tied for tops in game winning goals.
- Ondrej Palat is tied for 8th in the league in helpers.
- Despite being in Tampa for about a month, Radko Gudas is still 6th in the AHL in penalty minutes.
- Gudas is also still leading the league in +/- with teammates Johnson, Palat, and J.P. Cote all tied for 3rd. Dmitry Korobov is tied for 8th.
- Barberio is 9th in the league in shots on goal.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
No Panik? No Killorn? No problem.
Riku Helenius stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout victory.
SYR Barberio, (7) (Johnson, Connolly), 0:45 (PP)
SYR Korobov, (3) (Devos, Gudas), 4:30 (PP)
SYR Gudas, (4) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 5:07 (PP)
SYR Tyrell, (1) , 12:21 (SH)
SYR Wyman, (6) (Devos, Barberio), 16:49 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (8) , 19:44 (SH)
Dana Tyrell chipped in a shorthanded goal in the victory.
Box score from TheAHL.com.