Goaltending makes the difference.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss. At the end of the day, he's simply not an NHL goaltender. Winnipeg has a decent NHL goaltender in Pavelec, and that was the difference between winning and losing tonight. It was an incredibly tough spot to put Cedrick in starting him after the coaching change and the Lightning got about what I expected from it.
14:02 WPG Little (5), (Wheeler)
02:35 WPG Byfuglien (6), (Wheeler, Little)(PP)
06:20 TB Stamkos (22), (St. Louis, Salo)(PP)
09:35 WPG Enstrom (3), (Ladd, Little)
05:01 TB Conacher (9), (Brewer)
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
Now we move on to the elephant in the room, which is the question of who will be the next Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Let me make this plain: it would be incredibly foolish to select anyone other than Jon Cooper to coach this team. If there is any prejudice against AHL coaches because of Guy Boucher's inability to sustain the success he had early in his tenure, it should be tempered by the fact Cooper has achieved far more in his AHL career than Boucher ever managed. Where Boucher's Hamilton team fell in the AHL Finals, Cooper has won a Calder Cup with Norfolk and set historic records in the process He also, against all odds, has Syracuse in first in the Eastern Conference despite losing his best players to callup. He's done so without teams flush with top-60 draft picks, either. Take a look at the players the Lightning have brought up from Syracuse. Other than Panik, none of them were selected in the top-60, and Conacher and Johnson were undrafted free agents. And yet, they're in the NHL. Why? Partly because Jon Cooper has taught them to play the game the right way, and to maximize the talent that they have. Indeed, they are the living embodiment of Jon Cooper's resume. They backcheck well and are defensively responsible. They play with physical edge. They hustle their bags off. Above all, they're winners.
They, along with young stars Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, are the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning. And there are even more of Jon Cooper's players on the way up to the NHL. Brett Connolly, at a minimum, will join the team, and there are several others who will also be knocking on the door as well. If the next few years are destined to be played out by Jon Cooper's kids, does it not make sense that Jon Cooper should be the one to lead them? Not an NHL retread. Not another team's AHL coach, who does not nearly have the same record as Cooper or the unbelievable rapport Cooper has with the organization's young future stars. And with Andrej Sustr on his way to Tampa Bay next week and a top-10 pick looking to be in the offing this June, who better than Cooper, who we gave the monicker The Rookie Whisperer last year with Norfolk, to break them into the pro game?
My deep hope is that Steve Thomas being behind the bench tonight in Winnipeg along with Boucher's assistants was a tell. I hope it's a clear indicator that Jon Cooper is on the way. And, if he is, I have no doubt the future is very bright and the Lightning will be back as one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference very, very soon.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 19:27.
Tyler Johnson had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:47. He was also 47% on draws.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:30. Holy God is he hard on the puck though. You better bring a SAM missile if you want to knock him off of it once he's got it.
Ondrej Palat had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:13.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 19:51.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 5:04 before leaving with the dreaded upper-body injury.
Cory Conacher had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 14:24.
That's seven Tampacuse players. Plus Aulie. That's over a third of the team's skaters. This is such a no-brainer decision, and it needs to be made correctly tomorrow before the Lightning can begin to climb again toward greatness.
Same garbage. Different day.
12:49 OTT Silfverberg (8), (Methot)
14:29 OTT Gryba (1), (Turris, Methot)
17:01 OTT Latendresse (4), (Silfverberg, Zibanejad)
19:50 OTT Alfredsson (7), (Wiercioch, Gonchar)(PP)
11:37 TB Johnson (2), (Brewer, Panik)
13:53 TB Johnson (3), (Carle)
18:01 TB Purcell (7), (Hedman, Salo)
19:39 OTT Alfredsson (8), (Turris, Greening)(EN)
Tyler Johnson was the game's third star.
It was like a replay of the Toronto game. The Lightning came out strong. They had some chances and some zone time in Ottawa's end but couldn't cash in. Brain farts turn into goals. One or two goals become a four goal lead for the bad guys. Next thing you know the team's in garbage time where it seems like the veterans have checked out and only the Tampacuse kids are doing work. It's something that needs to be corrected. There's still 17 games left to go, and if veterans are already mentally checked out and making tee times, they need to be gone from this organization at the deadline. Period. Point blank.
Alex Killorn had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 5 hits in 18:37.
Johnson had 2 goals and was +1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 16:10. He was also 70% on draws. He's doing everything he needs to do right now to ink his name onto Tampa's roster for next season.
Richard Panik had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:45. He was impactful in his return to the team, hitting a post in the First Period, being active physically, and getting a helper in the final frame. It was really fun to see Palat/Johnson/Panik getting to play together in the NHL and they looked like their chemistry definitely translated to the show.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 12:21.
Radko Gudas had 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:54.
Kings of the comeback trail.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the victory.
STJ Gagnon, (4) (Mouillierat, Sawada), 4:57
STJ Gagnon, (5) (Cormier, O'Dell), 16:01 (PP)
SYR Taormina, (4) (Brown), 2:23 (PP)
SYR Wyman, (11) (Panik, Korobov), 11:44
SYR Connolly, (24) (Gudas, Nightingale), 9:15
SYR Johnson, (31) (Panik, Wyman), 10:44
Syracuse again staked the IceCaps to a 2-0 lead and again came back to snatch victory away from them. Richard Panik has 5 points, all assists, in 5 games since being returned from Tampa. Panik attack, y'all.
With Sprigfield stubbing their toe twice against Albany, Syracuse has opened up a 4 point lead in the East with the Falcons holding 3 games in hand. The Crunch are off until Friday when they face Norfolk.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Everything's slipping away...
Mathieu Garon allowed 4 goals on 42 shots for the loss.
07:23 NYR Hagelin (7), (McDonagh)
08:40 NYR Stepan (4), (Callahan, Girardi)
16:09 TB St. Louis (5), (Brewer, Stamkos)
16:08 NYR Staal (2), (Miller, Nash)(PP)
18:27 NYR Nash (4), (Richards, McDonagh)
Let's state the obvious: 1. The team can't win a close game. 2. They can't win on the road. 3. They can't beat anyone outside of the Southeast Division.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 16:14.
Richard Panik played 7:38.
Cory Conacher had 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:33.
The Lightning lose one they really couldn't afford to let get away.
Mathieu Garon allowed 2 goals on 21 shots for the loss.
01:24 TB Stamkos (14), (Purcell, Conacher)
10:02 BUF Hodgson (8), (Sekera, Vanek)
00:52 BUF Myres (3), (Vanek, Hodgson)
Steven Stamkos was the game's third star.
With so many road games on the docket over the next week, the Lightning really needed to capitalize at home against a struggling Sabres team. And, to be honest, they didn't play badly, outshooting Buffalo 31-21 and really badly outchancing them, too. Unfortunately, they have Ryan Miller, who stole them a win tonight.
Alex Killorn was -2 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 12:38.
Richard Panik had 1 hit in 8:36.
Cory Conacher had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot in 17:19.