Norfolk has a date with history this weekend.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 13 shots (no, not a typo) for the win. Janus is now 16-8-2 on the season, which puts him at the door step of the top-20 in the league in wins. Dustin Tokarski still rules the roost with 27 wins despite being out of the league for the last week. Two good young goaltenders = good problem to have.
WBS Lerg, (23) (O'Reilly, Strait), 8:47
NOR Panik, (16) (Barberio, Johnson), 11:28 (PP)
NOR Gudas, (7) (Jackson, Hutchings), 11:59
NOR Johnson, (25) (Panik, Picard), 0:10 (PP)
NOR Oberg, (6) (Palat, Johnson), 2:37
Halfway through the month of March, Johnson's got to be the runaway favorite to win the league's Player of the Month award. He has 7 goals and 14 points in 6 games, which already matches what he put up in February. That's pretty amazing considering last month was no slouch for TJ, who put up 14 points in 13 games. He's now tied with Gustav Nyqvist at 55 points for 2nd among league rookies in points, and he's moved into a tie for 9th in the AHL in points, overall.
Johnson's linemate, Richard Panik, continues to quietly ramp up his play after a quiet first half of the year. He's within 1 point now of breaking into the top-20 in the league in rookie scoring himself, and the Panik attack shows no signs of letting up.
Mark Barberio is 5th in the AHL in assists. Discuss.
What I take away from tonight's game, given the Admirals outshot their nearest division rivals 33-13, is that they're going for it. And, I'm not talking about winning the division (now a 10 point lead over the Pens), or the conference (6 point lead over the IceCaps). This team wants the record, and they can tie the single-season win streak record of 17 on Friday in Charlotte. The Checkers are no slouches, mind you. They lead the Midwest Division and Norfolk will have to beat them on Friday and Sunday to set the record. And, despite the challenge, Norfolk's going for it. When a team holds another to 13 shots on goal, that's complete team buy-in at playoff level intensity. They just threw the keys to the tractor and the deed to the farm in the middle of the table. They're going for it, and it's going to take a team playing a playoff-level game to stop them.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jaroslav Janus started his third game in three nights and stopped 27 of 30 for his 7th consecutive victory.
NOR Smith, (22) , 15:00
BRI Frischmon, (8) , 1:17 (SH)
NOR Barberio, (10) (Conacher, Johnson), 17:16 (PP)
NOR Panik, (14) (Smith, Johnson), 19:28 (PP)
BRI Mouillierat, (7) (Riley, Oleksy), 7:50
BRI McNeely, (7) (Sinkewich, Rakhshani), 11:14
NOR Barberio, (11) (Johnson, Ouellet), 13:12 (PP)
NOR Panik, (15) (Labrie), 15:52
NOR Johnson, (24) (Panik, Ouellet), 17:32 (PP)
Barberio's 2 goals moved him to 11 on the season, which is 2 better than his rookie campaign last year. He holds an 11 point advantage on St. John's defenseman Paul Postma for the league lead in scorers amongst blueliners.
Tyler Johnson has moved into 3rd amongst all AHL rookies in scoring, 3 points back of Gustav Nyqvist of Grand Rapids and 16 points back of teammate Cory Conacher.
Panik is enjoying the month of March so far with 3 goals and 8 points in 5 games. Today's Panik attack was his first 3-point game of his career.
Wednesday night in Norfolk becomes a big game for two reasons now. It was always going to be a big game with the rival Pens in town lurking 8 points back with a game in hand. But, now, it becomes even bigger with the Admirals' ridiculous, video game-like winning streak hitting 15 with a chance to run to 16. If the Admirals pull of the win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, they hop a bus to Charlotte on Friday with the opportunity to tie the all-time AHL record for consecutive victories at 17. If they pull that off, the rematch is in Charlotte at 3 pm on Sunday, with a chance to make history. It will not be easy. The Pens currently are the 4 seed in the Eastern Conference and the Checkers are the 3 seed in the West. But, at least its not another 3 games in 3 nights marathon like this weekend was.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Lucky number 13.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the victory. He picked up his 5th consecutive victory tonight, and don't look now but the save percentage has creeped up to .903.
NOR Johnson, (21) (Panik), 8:54
NOR Picard, (5) (Palat, Smith), 10:31 (PP)
NOR Johnson, (22) (Panik, Cote), 19:30
ADK Hamel, (17) (Kessel, Akeson), 13:19 (PP)
Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik were the game's first and second stars. Johnson's been on a hellacious tear the past dozen games, posting 7 goals and 18 points over that span. He's also had back-to-back 2 goal games, for that matter. The Panik attack has meshed well on TJ's line recently and on the power play with back-to-back multi point games of his own.
Does a baker's dozen wins during the stretch run of a season and becoming the first AHL team to hit 40 wins make you the frontrunner for AHL coach of the year? We think it does. Only one coach in the AHL can claim to have a winning streak that matches the number of donuts that Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau eats on an average morning, and only one coach runs big surpluses with a +57 goal differential. Only one man in the AHL builds a bridge to the future as he wins in the present, with 6 rookies in his lineup tonight. That man is Jon Cooper. A bold vision: less goals against, more goals for, more wins. The American Hockey League needs Jon Cooper. Now, more than ever.
(This message was paid for by the American Coaches Winning Tomorrow Today PAC.)
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Coach Cooper sets the Admirals record with the team's 9th straight win.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 28 of 30 for his 25th win of the season. He moves one ahead of Ben Bishop, who was traded to the Senators organization today, into the top spot in the AHL in wins, and he has to be the odds on favorite to lead the AHL at season's end after the trade. Even if the Sens leave Bishop in Bingo, Binghamton is dead last in the East Division, so he won't have a very good team in front of him. Tokarski has a 4 win advantage on the next closest goaltenders beyond Bishop. So, it's really his to lose. He's now 7-1-0 in February with 2 shutouts, a 2.00 GAA, and a .926 save percentage, so he certainly should be in line for some award consideration come March 1st, too.
WBS Street, (18) (Grant, Mormina), 12:27 (PP)
NOR Barberio, (9) (Johnson, Segal), 17:02 (PP)
NOR Cote, (1) (Johnson), 4:44
WBS Picard, (4) (Craig, Gibbons), 9:50
NOR Ashton, (19) (Dimmen, Conacher), 17:56 (PP)
Carter Ashton and Jean-Philippe Cote were the game's first and third stars. Alexandre Picard was the game's second star, but it was their Alexandre Picard, the former Lightning defenseman, and not the current Lightning farmhand. Ashton snapped a 9-game goalless streak with the tally, and he's now 1 shy of the 20-goal plateau in his rookie campaign.
With 2 assists today, Tyler Johnson continued his hot February. He's got 3 goals and 11 points in his last 8 games, and he's actually 3 points ahead of Ashton for second among Norfolk rookies behind the uncatchable Cory Conacher.
Glad to see Richard Panik not miss any time after the dirtiness in Hershey yesterday. As I said, that will get cleaned up on Wednesday, I'm sure.
Let me be the first to pronounce Bolt Prospects as the official campaign headquarters for Jon Cooper's (pictured with the Godfather of Lightning hockey) bid for AHL Coach of the Year. 9 straight wins snaps the previous franchise record for the Admirals, and when you consider there's 4 Admirals regulars with Tampa Bay right now due to injuries and trades, you realize how amazing a coaching job he's been doing. The other thing you really have to commend is how he's blended so many rookies into the winning formula. Jeff Dimmen, Ondrej Palat, Panik, Ashton, Johnson, and Conacher: that's 6 rookies he's coached up and worked into the rotation of a team that now is tied for tops in the entire AHL in points. And they're not the only rookies who have contributed. Philip-Michael Devos has also been a regular in this lineup, as well. It's been a remarkable job so far, and Julien BriseBois and Steve Yzerman have every right to break their arms slapping each other on the back for that hire. He's been damned good.
Norfolk now holds a 4 point lead on the Penguins for 1st place in the East Division and an 8 point lead on 3rd place Hershey, with the Bears holding a game in hand. They've also moved into 1st in the Eastern Conference by 2 points over St. John's, although the Ice Caps have a formidable 4 games in hand. For the moment, though, the Admirals are tied for tops in the AHL in points, and are tops in wins, goals, and goal differential (+47!).
Wednesday, they'll have the opportunity to put Hershey firmly behind the 8-ball with a 4-point game at Scope that could allow the Admirals to bury their arch-rivals in a 10-point hole that will be very difficult for Hershey to climb out of. The rest of the week holds a 2-game set on Friday and Saturday against a very mediocre Springfield Falcons team. So, Norfolk's got a big-time opportunity to keep the momentum rolling and really extend their lead in the East Division and start to set their sites higher on being the best team in the Eastern Conference and even the entire AHL. It's really, really exciting times.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Admirals tie a winning streak record from the heady days of Head Coach Jim Johnson. 8 straight wins for Norfolk, even as the Lightning call up several of their players.
Jaroslav Janus stopped 25 of 28 shots he faced for the victory. From the, "no way that can be right," file: Janus (pictured) is 3-0-1 against Hershey this season. Bear in mind Hershey is the second highest scoring team in the AHL behind just Norfolk. And, yet, they tremble before the might and power of Jaroslav Janus between the pipes.
NOR Barberio, (8) (Dimmen, Conacher), 2:21
NOR Ouellet, (11) (Picard, Kostka), 15:58 (PP)
HER Pope, (5) (Mink, Carman), 17:07
HER Bourque, (25) (Eakin, Mink), 0:16 (PP)
NOR Segal, (15) (Ouellet, Picard), 1:29
HER Greentree, (4) (Potulny, Bourque), 13:19 (PP)
NOR Segal, (16) (Barberio, Panik), 16:35 (PP)
After assisting on Segal's game winning goal, prospect Richard Panik took a rather nasty slash to the leg by Kyle Greentree that sent him to the dressing room. Panik attacked, y'all? Expect that issue to be cleaned up Wednesday when the Ads play the Bears for the last time this season.
Defenseman Evan Oberg was a healthy scratch and may be on his way to join the Lightning after Victor Hedman's injury earlier this afternoon. One thing we know, this is a man who will not pull a Nikita Alexeev and miss his flight, if that's the case.
Tonight went as well as possible for the Admirals, as they not only opened up a 6 point lead on the Bears, but with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins losing to Syracuse tonight, they also have moved 2 points ahead of the Penguins to claim uncontested hold of the top spot in the division. They've also tied St. John's for the most points in the Eastern Conference, although the Ice Caps hold 3 games in hand on the Admirals.
Norfolk draws the Pens at the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex tomorrow, with the opportunity to open up a 4 point lead on the Pens and an 8 point lead on the idle Bears. With a name like the Mohegan Sun Slot Machine Gamble-plex, you know the Admirals will be looking for the pay window.
Box score at TheAHL.com.