Kucherov line steals the show in homecoming game.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 25 shots for the victory. He just wallowed in the cool glorious waters of goal supportage all night long tonight.
7:46 TB Kucherov (2), (Gudas, Johnson)
12:18 TB Filppula (2), (Killorn, Stamkos)
3:20 TB Kucherov (3), (Johnson, Palat)
14:07 ARI Doan (1), (Stone, Vermette)
17:32 TB Boyle (2), (unassisted)
18:52 ARI Erat (3), (Hanzal, Gagner)
8:23 TB Kucherov (4), (Johnson, Brewer)
9:26 TB Boyle (3), (Brown, Stralman)
12:43 ARI Crombeen (1), (Vitale, Ekman-Larsson)
18:15 TB Carle (1), (Johnson, Sustr)(PP)
I've said it before, but that Palat/Johnson/Kucherov line has been a revelation. That line, I suspect, is your second line from now until the end of the season. The chemistry and speed of Johnson and Palat have unlocked the time and space necessary to let Kucherov apply his finishing skills, and those three are lethal together. Great game by Boyle and old man Morrow tonight, too, as well as Radko Gudas, who should've had a goal that was waved off on a way too quick whistle on a rebound chance Gudas snuck through Mike Smith's gaping five-hole.
As I recall, last season, the Coyotes really kicked the Lightning in the teeth in Arizona and their announcers and fans were far too giddy about the rude treatment the Lightning were given. I may be over-romanticizing this, but given the way the Lightning woodshedded Montreal earlier this season and the way Gudas decapitated Squirt Bottle Bandit Upshall, one might conclude this team is becoming very good at making others pay up on old debts. Very good. Intmidatingly good.
The victory gives the Lightning 13 points in the first 10 game segment of the season, clearing the 12 point minimum and giving them an insurance point to put in the bank. For those who didn't read Bolt Prospects last season, the 12/10 formula is pretty simple. 96 points should deliver you a playoff spot comfortably, based on past historical performance. Earning 12 points every 10 games will get you to 96 points with 2 games left to play around with. So, for every 10 game segment of the year, if your team can get at least 12 points, you're golden. The Lightning didn't get 12 points in every 10 game segment last season, but they accrued enough bonus points along the way that at no time last year did they fall behind schedule to get 96 points, eventually topping triple digits on their way to the playoffs. We're wheeling the formula out again this season because it's a fairly straightforward way of judging how the season is progressing. 12/10 is the magic ratio.
Now we ask the team to clean the slate and say, 12/10: do it again.
Cedric Paquette had his first NHL fight, 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 9:53. A very Dump Truck-ulent stat line, to be sure.
Jonathan Drouin had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:50. After his play in the previous game, he got busted down to the 4th line tonight, where he was invisible for 2 periods before coming alive with Namestnikov and Paquette in garbage time in the final frame. With Killorn coming back and looking decent in the First Period with Stamkos, it looked like it might be a longer term demotion for Drouin in the offing, but given how ineffective the Stamkos line was the final 40 minutes of the game I suspect Drouin will get a chance to get back up there sooner rather than later. As it was, I thought some of his Third Period work was quite entertaining.
Vladislav Namestnikov had 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 14:08. I thought he was really good tonight, showing great speed and getting in on some dangerous chances. He just happened to be the odd man out for a scoring line with everybody else clicking, and Arizona was only getting offense off faceoffs where Namesy was 0-for-3 tonight, so that may have factored in the decision, as well. Still, I liked what I saw and he should've had a helper on Gudas' disallowed goal.
Bad goaltending and bad habits come home to roost.
Evgeni Nabokov allowed 4 goals on 8 shots for the loss before giving way to Ben Bishop, who allowed 3 on 14 shots the rest of the way. Nabby allowed 2 short-side softies and and small, weak effort on a player swinging in wide from the wing before being lifted. Terrible.
7:37 MIN Scandella (1), (Pominville, Parise)
8:16 MIN Koivu (1), (Vanek)
11:04 TB Stralman (1), (Brewer, Johnson)
12:41 MIN Haula (1), (Niederreiter)
17:15 MIN Zucker (3), (Cooke, Carter)
2:11 MIN Parise (3), (Pominville, Suter)
11:12 MIN Spurgeon (2), (Vanek, Coyle)
16:50 TB Kucherov (1), (Stralman)
13:44 MIN Zucker (4), (Scandella)(SH)
The deck was pretty well stacked against the Lightning to start with playing at the end of a grueling road trip on a back-to-back against a quality opponent with a makeshift lineup due to multiple injuries. When Nabby gave up what I would consider to be 2.5 soft goals, those were the straws that broke the camel's back. Your veteran backup's got to be better than that. He doesn't have to win the game for you, but he's got to allow you to keep contact and give your team a chance to manufacture a point or two. Minnesota didn't exactly light the world on fire with a 22 shot effort, and once Nabby was lifted, 2 of their goals came off plays where the Lightning were taking chances because the score was so lopsided. In other words, it would've been a very different game if Nabby had made the stops in the First Period he was supposed to.
The Lightning return home for the final game of this first 10 game segment of the season needing 1 more point to hit the 12 you want them to get from each segment.
Cedric Paquette was -1 with 1 blocked shot and he was 75% on draws in 13:57.
Jonathan Drouin was -2 in 19:10. Ineffective, and he might've worn the second largest set of goat horns in the game on a weak turnover behind the Lightning net that killed the team's momentum after closing the game to 2-1 and Gudas nearly tying it with a point shot off the post. Drouin's turnover ends up behind Nabby and it's 3-1 Wild. The rest was history.
Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 1 shot in 12:33.
Vladislav Namestnikov was -2 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 12:27. He was also 25% on draws and took an elbow to the mush that cost him a few shifts. Rough night, although I can't fault him for the two minuses he was on the ice for.
Lightning best the Jest.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 42 shots for the victory. How he didn't get a star in this game, I don't know.
4:41 TB Stamkos (6), (Drouin, Filppula)
4:45 TB Drouin (1), (Kucherov, Johnson)
5:33 WPG Little (4), (Enstrom, Ladd)(PP)
12:52 TB Namestnikov (2), (Palat, Kucherov)(PP)
18:02 TB Palat (3), (Johnson, Kucherov)
10:19 WPG Wheeler (3), (Perreault, Enstrom)
Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat were the game's first and second stars. Complete homer move by the Winnipeg media to give a Jet a star tonight. That team's a dumpster fire, and Kucherov and Bishop would've been far more meritorious choices.
One silver lining of the injuries to Killorn and Callahan is that it's forced Cooper to tinker with some combinations that were outside his original thinking, and I believe he's found two really good combos with Filppula/Stamkos/Drouin and Palat/Johnson/Kucherov. The latter line is particularly fun to watch. The former line? I suspect you could put a sack of potatoes with the other two guys and they'd rack up assists.
Overall, that game was inartful and were I a coach I'd load the game film up in a cannon and shoot it to the moon. The Lightning should hardly be proud of their performance, particularly defensively in allowing 42 shots on goal. Tonight, though, I'll grant them a bit of a pass considering they were playing in a game that was officiated at a minor league level and against an opponent that might as well be a minor league team. Throw the newest injuries (J.T. Brown and Brett Connolly) on top of that, and I'll issue a full pardon for the night's play.
It's amazing to me that Winnipeg has not improved an iota since moving from Atlanta. None. They're awful. The Lightning played down to their level in indulging the Jets in a structure-free pond hockey exhibition and still absolutely smashed them because their skill level is just that much higher. I hate to see that too much, because I think it reinforces bad habits when teams get a payoff despite bad play. But, still, that's sink mangy animal up there in Winnipeg that needed to be put down tonight. J-E-S-T, jest, jest, jest. They're a joke.
Cedric Paquette had 3 shots and 2 hits in 14:14 in his first game back from recall, sporting #13 this time around. My compliments to his tailor.
Drouin had his first NHL goal, which was put on a tee for him by Nikita Kucherov, and a far more impressive helper on Stamkos' goal to go with a +1 rating, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots. His hands are irrationally quick, both with and without the puck. 99% of players don't get that puck over to Stamkos in tight on that 2-on-1, and he pick-pocketed Winnipeg players repeatedly throughout the course of the game in both the offensive and defensive thirds.
Vladislav Namestinikov had a goal and 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 10:48. He got a whisp of a deflection on a Palat shot on the PP, and that was all it took to get his name on the sheet for his 2nd of the season. He remains nicely active offensively, although clearly the coaching staff has to be careful not to put him in perilous situations defensively and in the faceoff circles.
Legends were born tonight in Syracuse, New York.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for his first professional victory in North America.
SYR Marchessault, (1) (Cote, Blujus), 8:44
SPR Tyrell, (1) (Madaisky, Sedlak), 15:45
SPR Monardo, (1) (Sifers, Madaisky), 3:53
SYR Paquette, (3) (Marchessault, Kunyk), 18:51
SYR Drouin, (1) , 7:18
I envy the folks who were in the arena tonight. Not only did they get to witness the first North American pro win by Vasilevskiy, but the first pro point by one of the truly great young players in the game. A future immortal. A young man who needs no introduction. 50 years ago when they recount this night to their grandchildren, and they will, they'll speak his name with the hushed reverence it deserves...
But, seriously. We love Blujus here at Bolt Prospects, and we love Vasilevskiy, but all that was overshadowed by the professional debut of Jonathan Drouin, who lived up to his billing. He was +3. He was dangerous all night in helping to tilt the ice in Syracuse's favor. And, of course, he scored the game winner on a partial break that began with a quick little defensive play in his own end and was completed with a top shelf, cookie jar breaking shot.
Syracuse gets Binghamton tomorrow night as the Jonny (Jouer au) Hockey road show continues on its short run in the AHL.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch clipped in OT.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 27 shots for the loss in his AHL debut.
SYR Richard, (1) (Gourde, Marchessault), 1:35 (PP)
HFD Lindberg, (1) (Bourque, Mueller), 2:25 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (1) (Samson, Koekkoek), 4:37
HFD Mueller, (1) (Bodie, Bourque), 9:36
SYR Paquette, (2) (Vermin, Cote), 11:02
HFD Hrivik, (1) (Kristo, Bodie), 6:35 (PP)
HFD Lindberg, (2) (Bourque, Allen), 4:53
Syracuse faces Springfield on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.