TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Andrej Sustr to a one-year, one-way contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have issued qualifying offers to six players, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. There were four players who were not qualified.
The deadline for NHL clubs to issue offers is today. By issuing qualifying offers to the aforementioned players, the Lightning are given the right of the first refusal or draft choice compensation should the player sign an offer sheet with another NHL club.
Players who did not receive qualifying offers are defensemen Keith Aulie and Charles Landry, forward Geoff Walker and goaltender Anders Lindback. They will all become unrestricted free agents tomorrow.
The sun still rises in Tampa Bay.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the victory tonight, 1 of which was an own goal tipped in by Palat. Lindback was magnificent, as he was in relief in the last game against Toronto. Is he as athletic and aesthetically pleasing as Ben Bishop between the pipes? No. Is he fully capable of stopping pucks? Yes, and he showed resiliency and mental toughness by not cracking after the Flyers broke through on him. He stayed focus, got a good team effort in front of him (including some street hockey netminding by Gudas) and got the W.
2:00 TB Johnson (24), (Stamkos, Kostka)
18:39 PHI Simmonds (27), (Giroux, Voracek)(PP)
4:33 TB Panik (3), (Hedman, Kostka)
9:43 TB Brewer (2), (Johnson, Palat)
12:22 PHI Couturier (12), (Streit)
14:14 TB Stamkos (25), (Filppula, Hedman)(PP)
Let it not be said that this Lightning team packs it in the second they hit a bump in the road. There was a lot of hand wringing and consternation with the injury to Ben Bishop that will, at a minimum, shut him down for the rest of the regular season. But, much like when Stamkos broke his leg and the captain of the team decided he wanted to go to Broadway, the Lightning circled the wagons. They came out very strong tonight and got a quick goal on Philly, which was great. I thought they took their foot off the gas through to the end of the Second Period, which was not good, but Lindback has something to prove and he played fantastic to keep the Lightning in it until they broke it open in the Third Period, where only a goofy own goal blemished a complete 20 minute team effort. So, the sky didn't fall and, in fact, with Montreal losing tonight the Lightning can get home ice in the first round if they win out in the final 2 games of the regular season.
Throughout the campaign, I've written regularly about segment goals with the team, with an eye on 96 points in 80 games. With the victory tonight, the Lightning nailed down 97 points in 80 games and they got the target number of 12 in the 8th and final segment of the year. In games 81 and 82, if they can get at least 3 of the 4 possible points, they have an opportunity to get to 100 points, which is truly an accomplishment for any team, let alone one this young.
Mike Kostka returned from his concussion with 2 assists, a +3 rating, and 1 blocked shot in 14:18. Win if you can. Survive if Mike Kostka lets you.
Andrej Sustr had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 19:36. It wasn't Andrej's best game, as I've seen him a lot tighter and under control defensively, but it's still pretty good that you can play him 19+ minutes and not worry about him completely wetting the bed. With the appearance tonight, Sustr reaches 41 NHL games played this season, which graduates him from prospect status on the website. Sustr becomes the 10th prospect to graduate this season, finishing out a class the likes of which we may never see again. To put this in perspective, there were only 10 prospects that graduated on the site in the previous 4 seasons combined (I looked it up). Congratulations to Andrej and everyone in the 2013-2014 Bolt Prospects Alumni class.
A solid, satisfying win... but at what price?
Ben Bishop made 3 saves on 3 shots before leaving the game 5:43 into the First Period in serious discomfort after falling to the ice while catching a puck with his glove hand. Wrist, elbow, shoulder? Whatever it was, Bishop was writhing in pain enough to leave doubt whether he'll be available anytime soon. Anders Lindback entered the game and stopped all 25 shots he faced the rest of the way for the combined shutout and the win. Putting aside any critique of Bishop's workload, I feel like Lindback's play in his last start merited more starting time than Cooper has given him. He looked good again tonight, including a sparkling glove save toward the end of the Second Period. What I like about Lindback is the team in front of him seems to simplify its game and pay closer attention to detail rather than simply relying on Ben Bishop to be the eraser for their mistakes. It certainly appeared that way tonight.
9:19 TB Palat (21), (Hedman, Gudas)
15:45 TB Palat (22), (Stamkos, Hedman)(PP)
19:47 TB Hedman (13), (unassisted)(EN)
That was a fantastically well played hockey game by the Tampa Bay Lightning after the debacles against Calgary and Dallas. Ordinarily I'd be really excited about the way they played tonight, because it represents a total reversal of the issues that had plaqued the club earlier this season when it simply couldn't get power play production, couldn't kill penalties with any reliability, and struggled mightily to protect Third Period leads. They were ruthlessly efficient in all three aspects, which bodes well, but...
Between Bishop leaving the game and Sami Salo also leaving early in the Second Period, you wonder if they won the battle and ended up losing the war. It's never a good thing when an injury looks so significant that people start asking you how quickly your KHL-based prospect goaltender-of-the-future might be available to be signed and, gulp, appear for your team in the playoffs. That's the scary predicament of the night, though, pending word on what ails Bishop.
The Lightning's victory tonight puts them at 95 points for the season, 1 shy of our 80-game goal of 96 points and 2 points shy of the 10-game segment goal of 12 points earned. It's remarkable how efficient they've been about staying on schedule all season long.
Andrej Sustr had 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 18:10. He, again, had to play bigger minutes with one of his defensive corps-mates out of the game (in this case Salo). He made several key plays in the Second Period including breaking up a 3-on-1 by Toronto's top line. Tonight was his 40th game of the season, meaning he is now just 1 game away from graduation on the site. He'll likely be the capstone to an unprecedented Bolt Prospects Alumni class the likes of which we may never see again.
Time for some real talk, Tampa Bay.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 28 shots for the loss. It was just an awful game by Bishop, who has been subpar since coming out of the Olympics break. Jamie Benn's second goal was an extremely soft goal that Bishop allowed through him and Roussel's goal came on a seemingly innocuous play where Bishop did not cover a puck at the side of his cage. He's clearly fatigued, both mentally and physically. I get that Cooper wants home ice for the playoffs, but home ice is irrelevant if Bishop keeps playing this poorly. Point blank, I would've put Lindback in for the last 40 minutes of this game and even though the Lightning made it interesting in the Second Period, the fact remains they burned more of what little Bishop had left in the tank tonight and got nothing out of it.
0:40 DAL Ja. Benn (31), (Goligoski, Seguin)
5:37 DAL Ja. Benn (32), (Garbutt, Fiddler)
18:26 DAL Seguin (35), (Jo. Benn, Ja. Benn)
1:57 TB Stamkos (24), (Palat, Hedman)
6:44 TB Sustr (1), (Malone, Thompson)
1:26 DAL Fiddler (6), (unassisted)
7:57 DAL Roussel (14), (Garbutt, Eakin)
Tyler Johnson was the game's third star. To be honest, though, this was a game where nobody on the Lightning deserved a star.
Real talk, Tampa Bay. This team has been mediocre at best and a dumpster fire at worst since the Olympics break. Did they manage to string together enough points to lock up a playoff spot early, primarily by manufacturing wins against subpar teams? Yes. But, this team hasn't played well, with the exception of one or two efforts where they actually focused, such as in the game against Montreal. The last two games they have been utterly embarrassed by two teams (Calgary and Dallas) that I know in my heart, man-for-man, they're better than. They're definitely better than Calgary and I know they're better than Dallas, too. But, only if they move their feet and use their heads, and too often for the past month and a half the Lightning have been doing one or the other, or neither, but not both.
At this point I almost give the defensive corps a pass, so a lot of what I'm going to say now will focus on the forwards. True, Sustr got lost after a faceoff in his own end resulting in Seguin's goal tonight, but he atoned for it, unlike others on the Lightning. If you twisted my arm, I'd call out Gudas for being a shadow of what he was prior to getting hurt in that game against Anaheim several months back, but he clearly wasn't at fault tonight after the refs threw him out of the game for no reason. He was ejected for a headshot on a play where he was clearly playing the puck and shielding it from an oncoming Roussel who lowered his head reaching for the puck and ended up taking the worst of it. Gudas wasn't throwing a check and wasn't being careless with his elbows or shoulders. He was playing the puck and making a hockey play. He shouldn't have been tossed and if he gets any supplemental discipline for that play from the NHL then the league should be ashamed. He did nothing wrong on that play. But, I digress.
The forwards on this team have been unwilling to pay a price and unwilling to mind details in the first 2/3rds of the ice. Period. And, while some of it has been the youth of the team, a lot of it has been the veterans. The first Stars goal came directly from a soft misplay of a puck by Teddy Purcell. A couple of others came from bad turnovers by Stamkos, including the back breaker by Fiddler in the Third Period. Even Valtteri Filppula has routinely been guilty of overhandling pucks and turning it over far too frequently. These are your team leaders, and a lot of times they have been, A.) unwilling to take a bump to make a play, and subsequently B.) been throwing the puck into bad areas and putting a struggling, fatigued goaltender in bad situations. These are your veteran leaders. These are the guys you need to mind their details, and they aren't. The forwards on this team, lately, have been soft as Charmin along the wall, they don't come back hard or deep enough to help out their, mediocre at best athletically, defensemen, and to top it all off they've been flat out idiotic with the puck half the time when they actually do have it. It's inexcusable, and while you might be able to punish Purcell with reduced ice time, it's not like you can sit Stamkos or Filppula. It's on those two to wake up and lead by example. Otherwise, I hope they liked Andreychuk's statue unveiling tonight and that bronze Stanley Cup out on the plaza, because they won't get within a country mile of the sterling silver one playing the way they have.
And what's worst of all is this: I expected this team to rebound after wetting the bed against Calgary. After embarrassing themselves that badly against Calgary you would think they'd be ready to go tonight. Nope. That's how fat, happy, and pleased with themselves they are right now. I'm so disappointed in this team right now, and I'm not willing to give them a pass because of their youth. Baloney. They're so much better than they've been playing lately and they should expect so much more of themselves, let alone what those of us who watch this team's expectations are. This has been a special season, and they owe it to themselves to finish it right. The last thing that they should want to happen is to stumble to the finish line, get blasted out of the first round of the playoffs, and have this season end up tasting like a dung sandwich all summer. But, you know, that's what this is turning into. A big old dung sandwich. Real talk.
Andrej Sustr had his first NHL goal and was -1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 20:27, paired most of the night with Victor Hedman. Putting aside the play where he got lost on his faceoff assignment on Seguin's goal late in the First Period, he played reasonably well. He atoned for it with his rebound goal and he helped fill the void when Gudas was thrown out of the game for no good reason. Sustr is 2 games away from graduation here on the site, and if he plays like he did tonight for the team, he could provide them a shot in the arm from a depth standpoint.
Roller coaster Crunch back on the uphill slope.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the victory. Goal support remains a beautiful thing.
ADK Cousins, (9) (Eddy, Manning), 9:31
ADK Noebels, (3) (Akeson, Lamarche), 17:43
SYR Walker, (5) (Marchessault, Gourde), 7:49 (PP)
ADK Akeson, (21) , 11:54
SYR Paquette, (17) (DiSalvatore, Connolly), 14:46 (PP)
SYR Paquette, (18) (Sustr, Cote), 15:56
ADK Holmstrom, (12) (Delisle, Noebels), 0:59 (PP)
SYR Smith, (6) (Marchessault, Langelier-Parent), 3:35
SYR Langelier-Parent, (2) (Gourde, Witkowski), 9:16
SYR Marchessault, (16) (Connolly, Witkowski), 14:03
Andrej Sustr also returned from injury tonight after missing over a month on the shelf, and he was joined in the lineup by J.P. Cote who has only been healthy enough to see game action in 1 game in the last month. Both defensemen had assists in the game, and both add to the list of reasons to believe this 3 game winning streak the Crunch are on might be sustainable. Also, if Sustr can finish the AHL season strong, he might give the Lightning defensive corps a shot in the arm in the depth department once he goes back up to to Tampa Bay.
The opportunity to make the playoffs is long gone for Syracuse, but they improved to 2 games under .500 with tonight's result. With everything that's happened, if the team can post a record over .500 this year, that's going to be a moral victory at least, and will help lay a foundation for success next season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Have you heard the one about a Latvian and a French Canadian who walk into a diner on the way from Utica to Montreal?
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the loss. After the game, Desjardins and tandem-mate Kristers Gudlevskis were summoned to join the Lightning in Montreal for tomorrow night's came against the Canadiens with Bishop's head injury and Lindback's sprained ankle.
UTI DeFazio, (6) (O'Reilly), 3:24
UTI Pelletier, (8) (Grenier, Archibald), 13:31
UTI Archibald, (7) (Grenier, Pelletier), 14:46
SYR Sustr, (1) (Angelidis, Panik), 18:55
I suppose the good news is that at least Andrej Sustr was able to get on the board. Sadly, though, the Crunch will be going into tomorrow night with a loaned ECHL goaltender between the pipes, in all likelihood. They've reportedly suspended Riku Helenius tonight for breach of contract. So, things don't appear to be on the way to getting a whole lot better for the Crunch. Perhaps there's a silver lining that there's no recall for Valtteri Filppula's spot as of this posting. It's not exactly something worth throwing a parade over, but Crunch fans have to take what they can get these days.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Despite being sent to Syracuse for more ice time, Andrej Sustr hasn't seen much game action.
The 6-8 defenseman, hurt on his second shift since being reassigned by the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this month, practiced with the Crunch Tuesday. After missing five games, he is nearing a return to the lineup.
“It’s been pretty good,” Sustr said of working his way back into game shape Tuesday. “I’m aiming for this weekend.”
With Syracuse on a five-game losing streak, the addition of Sustr is a major shot in the arm to a struggling Crunch defense that has surrendered 23 goals in the past five games.
Thank you, Al Trautwig.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 34 shots in his return to the Lightning crease for the victory. He had a little luck with posts and crossbars but looked really sharp and, just as important, the Rangers decided to attack his strength by going at him in tight. That's a fool's errand against Bishop.
11:55 NYR Richards (12), (Callahan, Hagelin)
1:10 TB Hedman (10), (St Louis, Purcell)(PP)
1:19 TB Kucherov (7), (Gudas, Brown)
Bishop and Valtteri Filppula were the game's first and second stars, officially. Unofficially, I'd like to thank MSG's Al Trautwig, who was my first star. The man actually uttered aloud that Lundqvist wanted the shutout in the First Intermission. Never has the s-word jinx been so strikingly illustrated. Paul Kennedy, pay attention to what happened tonight. Trautwig put the jinx on and the Lightning scored a pair of goals in the first 1:19 of the ensuing period (9 seconds apart) and the Rangers lost the game. The s-word jinx is real. It's really real.
Kidding aside (sort of), it was only a moderately better effort from the Lightning tonight versus the past couple of games. They came out with the proper level of emotion and desperation but that fizzled when the Rangers got their first goal and they carried the balance of the play throughout the night. The Lightning were very lucky to get 2 points tonight. But, you know, manufactured points still count in the standings, and with Boston going down to Toronto tonight the Lightning again hold a tie for the Atlantic Division lead at 60 points with the B's holding a game in hand. The Lightning have 3 games to go in this segment and 4 points to go to get to the target minimum of 12 points, so you can see how critical the victory was tonight.
Again, thank you Al Trauwig. What a rookie mistake from a guy who should absolutely know better.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 hit in 12:01. I was going to say something nice about him after the First Period. Then he allowed a breakaway in the Second Period and looked positionally lost the rest of the contest. Maybe next time.
J.P. Cote had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 12:33. The Rangers tried to test him with some soft dump ins to his corner to try to test his wheels and he did ok. Better than I thought he would, frankly.
J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 9:59. Cooper showed some love for his rookie putting J.T. out for the critical PK late in the Third Period.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:18. Again, I think he's smacked into the rookie wall at high speed and his diminishing ice time may be a reflection of that. He needs 3 more NHL games this season to earn graduation from prospect status on the website.
Richard Panik had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 12:21. Time to give some love to the improvised line of Malone/Pyatt/Panik tonight. They set the tone early on the forecheck and they stayed effective throughout the game. Panik created a decent chance at a possible insurance goal in the Third Period flattening Brad Richards and creating an ill advised turnover by the former Lightning center. That was good to see. He needs 4 more NHL games this season to earn graduation from prospect status on the website.
Nikita Kucherov had the game winning goal and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 9:18. He also had 5 shots that either missed the net or were blocked, so that's 7 shot attempts in a little over 9 minutes, which is a decent work rate on paper. More to the point: Kucherov scored for the first time on a regulation breakaway. I feel like we're supposed to sacrifice something or build a monument or perform some other great deed to commemorate the moment. I thought it might never come.
Half a game won't cut it.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss. There was a theme on all three goals: long screened shots. The problem is I'm not sure Lindback can play any better than he did over the past couple of games, which is maybe slightly better than mediocre. Ben Bishop should be back tomorrow, and it's not a moment too soon.
3:46 CBJ Johansen (17), (Murray)
5:07 TB Killorn (12), (Carle, Gudas)(PP)
6:04 TB Hedman (9), (Johnson, St Louis)
3:09 CBJ Horton (2), (Johnson, Anisimov)(PP)
17:22 CBJ Wisniewski (4), (Johnson, Horton)(PP)
The Lightning left a point on the ice here in the game against Columbus and another in the game against Washington, and they've got to stop coughing up points late in games if they want to stay on track. With that said, they may not have deserved to get a point out of tonight's game with the way they played. 20 minutes of Lightning hockey won't do. They got jumped all over in the First Period and were very lucky to escape unscathed. They recovered and played their game in the Second Period looking excellent in terms of structure and how they were moving the puck up and out of the zone in transition. Third Period? Flat as a pancake at first and then way too loosey goosey defensively late. I don't know what's going on (I hope it's not players prematurely getting fat and happy with their spot in the standings) but 5 of the last 6 periods of hockey have been bad hockey and it's got to stop.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 2 ill-advised retaliation minors, and 3 hits in 18:40. He did manage to draw a retaliation penalty from Umberger in the Third Period, so he 50% made up for his lack of discipline. Tonight was his 41st NHL game of the season, so he graduates from prospect status here on the website. Congratulations.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 14:02. He held up better against this style of opponent than I would have imagined.
J.P. Cote had 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:37. He seemed to be more active offensively tonight than in past games, to be sure.
J.T. Brown had 1 blocked shot in 11:10. He had one brisk rush in the First Period and not much else. It was an off night for his line.
Andrej Sustr was -1 with a phantom cross checking minor and 2 hits in 11:08. As I said about 2-3 weeks ago, he really looks like he's hit a rookie wall to me. There's no shame in it, but sometimes it takes an offseason of training to be able to get over that wall. That said, as it stands now, he's probably the next in line to graduate from prospect status on the site.
Nikita Kucherov had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:34. Again, it was an off night for his line and the rare night he didn't have at least one breakaway.