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Stephens, Mitchell

AHL Game Night: 10-19-18 Crunch at Devils

Ingram pitches a shutout in slump busting win.

SYR-4
BNG-0

Connor Ingram stopped all 27 shots he faced and a penalty shot for the victory. How a man does all that and doesn't get a star is beyond me.

First Period
4:07 SYR Andreoff (1), (Dumont, Gaunce)(SH)

Second Period
12:59 SYR Stephens (1), (Cernak, Dumont)(PP)

Third Period
9:46 SYR Andreoff (2), (Martel, Verhaeghe)(PP)
19:41 SYR Katchouk (1), (Stephens)(EN)(SH)

Andy Andreoff, Gabriel Dumont, and Mitchell Stephens were the game's three stars.

Danick Martel appeared for the Crunch on a conditioning stint after not getting into a game thus far for the Lightning and had a helper. Boris Katchouk scored his first pro goal into the empty net to seal the deal.

Syracuse evens their record at 2-2-0. They've played significantly fewer games than most of the teams in the Eastern Conference and have a fair number of games in hand to make up.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-25-18 Panthers at Lightning

Lightning blow the "worst lead in hockey."

FLA-3
TB-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
4:17 TB Erne (1), (Joseph, Miller)(PP)
10:15 TB Killorn (1), (Stamkos, Miller)

Third Period
2:16 FLA Dadonov (1), (Pysyk)
7:03 FLA Ekblad (1), (Sceviour, MacKenzie)(SH)
12:31 FLA Barkov (1), (Dadonov, Bjugstad)

Brayden Point was the game's second star.

Things looked to be going well with the Lightning up two goals going into the final frame in a game with a lot of front line players from both clubs. It's concerning to cough up that lead and to give up a shorty, especially given that special teams has been a bit of a smoldering disaster thus far in the preseason. Practices will fix that last problem, but you can see some ragged edges as the process moves along to the opener.

Coming into this game, I really felt like this roster was nearly complete with three players fighting for one roster spot with two players fighting for another spot. I believe Adam Erne, who keeps scoring goals, has made the team and that the Lightning are unlikely to carry both Cory Conacher and Danick Martel, who are somewhat similar players in at least a superficial way, on the roster. Given the Lightning had to take the step of claiming Martel off waivers, you'd presume he has a slight edge on the more tenured Conacher. Those two will fight over a single spot, if I'm right the Lightning won't carry both and will try to fish the other through waivers down to Syracuse.

That leaves the final spot on the roster, and I handicap that as a three player race between Erik Cernak, Mathieu Joseph, and Alexander Volkov. If the Lightning decide to carry eight defensemen, Cernak makes the team, period, full stop. A lot of that probably depends on the team's confidence in Sergachev's switch to the right side and their confidence that Slater Koekkoek is finally ready to be more of a contributor to the team (yes, I'm assuming the waiver-eligible Koekkoek will make the club). Most teams don't carry 8 defensemen, but the Lightning have been one of the few teams that regularly have and there is, of course, Jon Cooper's proclivity to dress seven defensemen. Whether he makes the team on opening night or not, expect Cernak to see significant time in Tampa Bay over the course of the season, as he's clearly separated himself as the number eight on the depth chart.

If they go to a more conventional seven defensemen on the roster, though, it comes down to Joseph and Volkov, each of which have the DNA to be contributing complimentary wingers. Joseph's speed and forechecking would be a big plus to the lower lines. Volkov is perhaps a more complete 200 foot player (but only slightly so, Joseph's no slouch) and has a blink-quick release. Either player would be a nice weapon on the roster, but I honestly think the Lightning's style and the overall trend of the league perhaps favors a Joseph promotion.

In my opinion. All speculative, but that seems to me to be the one remaining twist we might see in the final shaping of the roster.

Joseph had a helper and 2 hits in 15:15.

Koekkoek had a shot, a hit, and a blocked shot in 11:59.

Martel had a shot and a blocked shot in 12:23.

Mitchell Stephens had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:02. He was also 44% on 16 draws.

Anthony Cirelli was -1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:04. He was also 67% on 15 draws.

Adam Erne had a goal and was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:24.

Cernak had 2 penalty minutes 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:18.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-22-18 Predators at Lightning

Connor Ingram FTW.

NSH-2
TB-5

Ingram allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the victory.

First Period
3:09 NSH Jarnkrok (1), (Arvidsson, Turris)

Second Period
4:16 TB Miller (1), (Killorn, Joseph)
10:15 TB Volkov (1), (unassisted)
19:59 NSH Ellis (1), (Arvidsson, Turris)

Third Period
13:01 TB Yan (1), (Stralman, Coburn)
18:29 TB Verhaeghe (1), (Barre-Boulet, Coburn)(EN)
18:52 TB Paquette (1), (Joseph)(EN)

Dennis Yan, Ingram, and Mitchell Stephens were the game's three stars.

Kneel before the might and glory of a Brayden Coburn multi-point game.

Mathieu Joseph had a pair of helpers and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:55.

Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 19:04.

Yan had the game winner and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 14:21. All Dennis Yan does is score goals.

Boris Katchouk had 1 shot and 6 hits in 11:15.

Otto Somppi was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 13:48. Somppi was also 64% on 11 draws.

Carter Verhaeghe had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 blocked shot in 16:01.

Alex Barre-Boulet had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:51.

Stephens was +1 with 2 shots in 13:03.

Alexander Volkov had a goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 16:02.

Erik Cernak was +1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 20:05.

Ross Colton had 2 hits in 13:02. He was also 22% on 9 draws.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-25-18 Crunch at Americans

Bye, Rochester.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

SYR-6
RCH-3

Syracuse Wins the Series 3-0

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory in his playoff debut.

First Period
3:25 RCH Redmond (2), (Porter, Blackwell (2) (PP)
19:16 SYR Peca (2), (Masin, Joseph)

Second Period
7:48 RCH Bailey (2), (Malone)
8:17 SYR Foote (1), (Verhaeghe, Joseph)
8:36 SYR Archambault (2), (Stephens, Peca)
10:49 SYR Stephens (1), (Dumont, Verhaeghe)

Third Period
6:05 SYR Joseph (2), (Volkov, Dumont)(PP)
13:50 RCH O'Regan (1), (Porter, Griffith)
19:08 SYR Volkov (3), (Peca, Condra)(EN)

Mitchell Stephens, Matthew Peca, and Gabriel Dumont were the game's three stars.

Well that was an interesting series considering the bluster from the Americans coming into the series based on their late regular season play against the Crunch. One of these teams clearly had an extra gear or two and the other was Rochester.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-24-18 Comets at Crunch

Ingram blanks Comets in goaltending duel.

UTI-0
SYR-2

Connor Ingram stopped all 23 shots he faced for the SO victory. The performance raised his save percentage up for the season to the .910 plateau.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
12:21 SYR Stephens (19), (Dumont, Masin)
19:57 SYR Cernak (5), (Peca, Condra)(EN)

Ingram and Mitchell Stephens were the game's first and second stars. Stephens with the gritty GWG to break a 12 game goalless drought and put him just one shy of the 20 goal mark for this rookie campaign.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 2-26-18 Maple Leafs at Lightning

Before the new acquisitions come, Tampa Bay plays a wild one for the fun of it.

TOR-3
TB-4 (SO)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 30 shots before stopping all 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO win. Stopped a Third Period penalty shot. Stopped an OT breakaway. Was a one man kill on a Second Period 5-on-3 PK. No complaints here.

First Period
1:41 TB Kunitz (11), (Sustr, Stamkos)
8:49 TOR Van Riemsdyk (26), (Hainsey, Rielly)
9:52 TOR Marner (17), (Gardiner, Zaitsev)

Second Period
3:52 TB Johnson (18), (Gourde)
15:18 TB Erne (2), (unassisted)

Third Period
5:27 TOR Bozak (10), (Marner, Rielly)(PP)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- NONE
TB- Point

Yanni Gourde and Adam Erne were the game's first and third stars.

Fun game. Wild game. The Lightning entered the game without the services of the departed Vlad Namestnikov with new acquisitions McDonagh and Miller still en route. Toronto was without the services of Austen Matthews, which was quickly balanced by the departure of Nikita Kucherov with an upper body injury. So, the script got thrown out early and this just ended up being a fast, physical, intense hockey game. Lots of goalmouth thrills. Lots of near misses. Some intrigue when Tyler Johnson left the game taking a refs skate to his leg, dropping Tampa Bay to just 9 forwards at one point. Crazy. Ultimately Vasilevskiy was the difference, with an assist to the all-powerful Espo Rule.

Brayden Point is pure filth in the shootout.

By my math, the Lightning need just about 7 points more to punch their ticket for the postseason.

Now we move into the final 19 games of the year with the Lightning coaching staff having the considerable challenge of integrating McDonagh and Miller into the squad. The Lightning came into the trade deadline needing a faceoff man, a right handed D, and some PK help. You could argue they've addressed all three to varying degrees, but it's going to fall on Bowness, in particular, to make some oddly fitting pieces all work. I think, most obviously, the Lightning PK will be way better following these deals and soon they'll get Ondrej Palat too, which will also help. That's the most obvious hole that got filled today. The RHD spot is a little more iffy. The Lightning have a very solid #1 and #2 LHD situation, and I suspect with Hedman as the clear top pair guy, McDonagh can get his time trimmed down from the 23-24 minutes he was playing in New York to more reasonable levels in the regular season that'll keep him fresher and healthier. Problem is, the only RHD they have you can absolutely trust is Stralman. The coaching staff will surely also tell you Girardi, as a well-seasoned vet, is dependable, but I would tell you only on well-managed levels of ice time. So I'll just throw this out there: time to move Sergachev to RHD and have him play his off hand. It's not an odd thing for European players, and particularly Russians, to do. It makes for better passing and shooting angles for an offensive-minded d-man. I think it's worth an experiment. Whatever the Lightning choose to do, with Hedman and McDonagh in the fold they now can be assured of having a #1 caliber d-man on the rink 45-50 minutes out of every 60 minute game. That doesn't stink. Last, faceoffs. Welp, here's where the fix is probably the shakiest. Miller is 54% on draws this year, which is nice, but he's just 49% for his career. It might be an addition by subtraction situation, though, because Namestnikov might well have been the worst faceoff man the Lightning had.

The loss of Howden and Hajek in the deal isn't insignificant, but it's also not a death knell for the Lightning prospect system. They have excellent centermen like Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli performing well in Syracuse and with Dominik Masin quietly having a whale of a season for the Crunch, the situation at LHD still looks good, too.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 2 shots in 7:49.

Erne had a goal and was +2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:57. He played a heck of a game on a strong forechecking line with Gourde and Johnson. Very strong on the puck and on the cycle.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 2-11-18 Crunch at Sound Tigers

Third Period excellence allows Syracuse to pull out a winning weekend.

SYR-3
BRI-2

Eddie Pasquale allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the win.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
12:21 BRI St. Denis (11), (unassisted)(PP)
14:55 SYR Masin (7), (Stephens)
16:52 BRI Dal Colle (6), (Bernier, Burroughs)(PP)

Third Period
3:02 SYR Stephens (17), (Volkov, McNeill)
8:01 SYR Yan (9), (Cernak, Masin)

Dominik Masin, Mitchell Stephens, and Dennis Yan were the game's three stars.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Stephens Shining on Crunch's Scoring Lines


By Jeremy Houghtaling

For Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx, Mitchell Stephens may have been on the fourth line, but he wasn't a fourth-liner.

With a glut of healthy forwards and Tampa Bay not calling for reinforcements early this season, Groulx had the rookie center the team's fourth line. Once the inevitable injuries happened, Stephens earned more time on the Crunch's scoring lines.

With a point in 12 of the last 15 games, Stephens has become one of Syracuse's most consistent contributors offensively.

"I remember sitting down with him at one point and telling him that we had no injuries, no call-ups, and it's not because he was playing on the fourth line that we saw him as a fourth liner. ... We had four healthy lines and those lines were made in order to have the team balance," Groulx said. "We didn't see him as a defensive player. I think he needed those 10 games to get more confident and feel the water a little bit to see what it's like to play in this league. Then he started scoring and putting up points. He hasn't stopped since then."

AHL Game Night: 1-24-18 Crunch at Rocket

Stephens continues to scorch the AHL.

SYR-3
LAV-2

Connor Ingram allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.

First Period
19:14 LAV Scherbak (7), (Taormina, Cracknell)(PP)

Second Period
7:03 SYR Yan (7), (Stephens)
16:25 SYR Cirelli (7), (Joseph, Stephens)(PP)

Third Period
2:47 SYR Stephens (15), (Joseph, Bodie)(PP)
18:50 LAV Audette (9), (unassisted)

Mathieu Joseph and Mitchell Stephens were the game's first and second stars. Since New Year's Eve, Stephens has 9 goals and 14 points in 11 games.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1-19-18 Marlies at Crunch

Erne-less Crunch drop key game against division-leading Marlies.

TOR-4
SYR-1

Connor Ingram allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss.

First Period
2:25 TOR Moore (6), (Mueller, Rychel)(PP)

Second Period
4:30 TOR Smith (18), (Kapanen, Liljegren)(PP)
10:08 SYR Stephens (14), (Cirelli, Yan)(PP)
15:54 TOR Greening (9), (Marchment, Moore)

Third Period
16:41 TOR Johnsson (16), (Moore)(PP)(EN)

Mitchell Stephens was the game's second star after scoring his team-leading 14th goal of his rookie pro campaign.

Syracuse got Anthony Cirelli and Dennis Yan back in the lineup, but with Adam Erne still nicked up the Syracuse attack continued to sputter tonight against the division leaders from Toronto.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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