Vernace, Michael

NHL Game Night: 10/9/10 Thrashers at Lightning

I'll reiterate what I said in the first preseason game: so far so good.

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Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the win. He'll never win style points for the way he tends goal, but as long as he keeps the pucks he should stop out of the net, this Lightning team should have enough offense to win hockey games for him.

First Period
TB 5:23, Downie 1 (PP) (Malone, Clark)
TB 8:21, Moore 1 (Purcell, Bergenheim)

Second Period
TB 2:20, Lecavalier 1 (PP) (St. Louis, Stamkos)
TB 5:21, Stamkos 1 (Hedman, Downie)
ATL 16:31, Enstrom 1 (PP) (Bergfors, Ladd)
ATL 18:12, Eager 1 (unassisted)

Third Period
ATL 7:41, Thorburn 1 (Sopel, Eager)
TB 10:59, Stamkos 2 (Jones)

Steven Stamkos, Steve Downie, and Vincent Lecavalier were the game's three stars. The NHL should be absolutely terrified of the concept of Stamkos and Lecavalier getting on track early this season. Also, reports of Steve Downie's demise in the post-Tocchet era appear to have been greatly, greatly exaggerated.

Going into the season, I think we all had a sense that the pride and professionalism were returning to Tampa Bay with the circus leaving town and Mr. Vinik coming in as owner. Tonight was the first time that sense translated into something tangible on the ice. The team is offensively explosive and looks deeper than at any time since, well, ever. How far they will go will ultimately be a function of the goaltending they will get, but if these netminders can make the stops they should make, this club should be in good shape.

The great thing about tonight's game, similar the the Admirals' game down on the farm, is that they can take a lot of offensive confidence away from the game but they made enough mistakes that Coach Boucher is going to be able to continue to keep on his club and keep them from complacency going into Wednesday's game against Montreal. And, you know, Coach Boucher has this Montreal game circled on the calendar and is not going to allow his team to go into his first game against his hometown team and in front of the Canadian media flat and overly impressed with themselves.

Dana Tyrell was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 8:44 in his NHL debut.

Michael Vernace had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:04 in his Lightning debut.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 10/2/10 Panthers at Lightning

A business-like rout of an inferior team at home. Nice.

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Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 21 shots. I feel like after two strong starts that Smitty has won the opening night starting job.

First Period
FLA 13:51, Santorelli 1 (Weaver, Allen)

Second Period
TB 4:32, Lecavalier 1 (PP) (St. Louis)
TB 7:22, Stamkos 1 (Downie, St. Louis)
TB 9:20, Stamkos 2 (PP) (Lecavalier, Kubina)

Third Period
TB 7:44, Bergenheim 1 (Perrin, Vernace)

Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier were the game's three stars. All is right with the universe. The Lightning outshot the Panthers 40-21 in the victory.

Johan Harju was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 11:14.

Dana Tyrell had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:39.

Michael Vernace had an assist and was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 15:12.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9/23/10 Lightning at Oilers

Yeah, we at BoltProspects always liked Magnus Paajarvi in his draft year.

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Dan Ellis allowed 5 goals on 21 shots for the loss. Ugly stat line.

First Period
TB 4:33, Jones 1 (Purcell, Persson)
EDM 15:09, Paajarvi 1 (Belle, Plante)
EDM 18:34, Cogliano 1 (PP) (Foster, Paajarvi)

Second Period
EDM 6:50, Paajarvi 2 (PP) (Penner, Plante)

Third Period
EDM 7:57, Hall 1 (PP) (unassisted)
EDM 9:52, Paajarvi 3 (SH) (Foster)
TB 17:19, Ashton 1 (PP) (Wright, Clark)

Not an entirely surprising outcome, I suppose, considering Edmonton had most of its regular skaters going against the Lightning's lower liners, AHLers, and prospects. The only thing really concerning is to allow 5 goals on 21 shots in that scenario. Still, I wouldn't read much into tonight unless they get blown out in Calgary against the Fighting Feasters on Saturday with most of the regulars in.

Carter Ashton had 1 goal and was +1 with 1 shot and a slashing minor in 13:26. I'm of the opinion it would behoove the Lightning to, at the very least, use the 9 game tryout on Ashton. If he can stick on the team and develop over the course of the year, he could give the Lightning a lot of roster flexibility in February.

Brett Connolly was even with 1 shot in 12:13. I think he'll get a contract and then be ushered away to Prince George fairly soon.

Radko Gudas was even with 1 shot in 13:51. I doubt he makes it past the first round of cuts. He needs to get stronger and he needs some seasoning in Norfolk.

Johan Harju was -1 with 1 shot in 13:20. He got more ice time than the 9:30 Linus Omark got for the Oilers. I expect him to be on the bubble another week.

Blair Jones was -1 in 12:53. He could not duplicate what he did against the Hawks, which is the story of Blair's pro career. Probably on the bubble another week.

Vladimir Mihalik was -1 with 1 shot and a hooking minor in 16:43. He might survive the first round of cuts, but I doubt he survives the second.

Niklas Persson had 1 assist and was +1 with 2 shots in 16:09. Niklas seems to be on track to make the team. In fact, he might be the first of the bubble guys to move into the safe column.

Dana Tyrell was even with 2 shots in 14:02. He'll stay on the bubble another week, I think.

Michael Vernace was -1 with 1 shot in 22:02. He got a ton of ice time given Boucher's familiarity with him, but he was awful, by all accounts.

Box score from Yahoo! Sports.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9/21/10 Lightning at Stars

So far so good.

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Dan Ellis stopped 17 of 19 shots for the win.

First Period
TB 4:44, Hall 1 (Tyrell, Thompson)

Second Period
TB 6:31, Moore 1 (Malone, Jackson)

Third Period
DAL 1:19, Gagnon 1 (Vincour, Sutherby)
TB 3:39, Hall 2 (Tyrell, Jackson)
DAL 7:17, Larsen 1 (Vincour, Gagnon)
TB 10:55, Ohlund 1 (Purcell, Harju)

Adam Hall and Dana Tyrell were the game's first and third stars, respectively.

Nicklas Persson was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:35.

Johan Harju had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:24.

Tyrell had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:04.

Michael Vernace was even with 2 hits in 24:41.

Scott Jackson had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 hits and a fighting major in 16:27.

Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 15:27.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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