All good things...
Series Tied 1-1
Jaroslav Janus allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss. None of the 4 goals he allowed were particularly terrible. However, he didn't seem to react well to getting bumped around 2-3 times early and he seemed a little bit scrambled and out of control at times. Cooper stuck to his plan and stayed with Janus after the win despite the soft goal he allowed in Game One, but with the loss, one would expect Dustin Tokarski to be in as the series switches to Manchester.
MCH Vey, (1) (Hickey), 11:23
MCH Kozun, (1) (Kaunisto, Hunter), 17:12
NOR Picard, (2) (Segal, Killorn), 5:10
NOR Picard, (3) (Dimmen, Killorn), 10:02
MCH Czarnik, (1) (Vey, Hickey), 5:28
MCH Vey, (2) , 16:16
MCH Andreoff, (1) (Muzzin), 17:59
Alexandre Picard was the game's third star.
It was another uneven effort by the Admirals, made worse by the loss of Tyler Johnson who was out of the lineup with an injury suffered in the last game. Norfolk again was flat in the first period and tonight they paid for it. They fell behind 2-0 before a sweeping comeback in the Second Period where they outshot Manchester 22-10. But, they couldn't keep the pace up, and Manchester got the key go-ahead goal and then caught the Admirals pressing for the tying goal.
Now Norfolk falls squarely behind the eight-ball, needing to win 2 of 3 on the road in Manchester to survive the Quarterfinals. From what little I know of Johnson's injury, I'm not sure he'll be available, but they'll presumably get Radko Gudas back from illness. It's a hard hill to climb now, though, and a nightmare scenario I did not want to see this team face when the initial schedule of the series was announced. All hands will need to be on deck Wednesday for Game Three.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk pours it on in the second and hangs on in the third to break the seal on their 2012 AHL playoff run.
Norfolk Leads the Series 1-0
Jaroslav Janus allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for the victory. He got the surprise start after Dustin Tokarski missed a couple of practices with illness this week. Janus played well up until allowing a very soft goal in the third that gave Manchester life. I would not be completely surprised to see Tic in Game Two.
NOR Barberio, (1) (Picard), 6:39
NOR Picard, (1) (Smith, Conacher), 1:42 (PP)
NOR Smith, (1) (Oberg, Kostka), 3:39 (PP)
MCH Legein, (1) (Azevedo), 9:53 (SH)
MCH Cliche, (1) (Hickey, Mullen), 13:57
Really a scary finish for the Admirals, having to fend off a 6-on-4 situation to preserve the win. Hopefully they learned a couple of lessons tonight. They took their foot off the gas at times in the third and paid a price for it. Also, they need to respect their opponent going into a critical Game Two tomorrow. Manchester's not going to lay down.
For those wondering, Radko Gudas also missed practice time this week with illness and was also scratched.
Mike Angelidis returned to the lineup after missing several weeks with a broken finger.
Also, if you were wondering, although the streak is technically shelved, we could call this win number Alex Selivanov.
Tomorrow night's game is really, really big. I'd go so far as to say Norfolk should approach it as a must-win. Knowing the next 3 games are in Manchester, it was very important for them to hold serve tonight, which they did. The other half of the equation is to get it done tomorrow night. And, they can't play like they did tonight. They were flat in the First Period and were only leading thanks to a pretty soft goal allowed by Zatkoff to Barberio. They need to play with the pace they had in the Second Period for a full 60 minutes. They dominated the middle frame and chased Zatkoff, bringing in Martin Jones for Manchester, who played very well. The stakes have been raised, even despite the victory, and I don't think Jon Cooper's going to be terribly pleased with all the tape from tonight's contest.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.
Norfolk shakes off its Albany hangover 1 period too late.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 23 shots for the loss.
WBS Thompson, (4) (Street), 5:09
WBS Thompson, (5) (Chupp, Rust), 5:25
WBS Street, (12) (Walker, Grant), 16:34 (PP)
NOR Ouellet, (8) (Dimmen, Devos), 0:53
NOR Gudas, (6) (Barberio, Kostka), 6:09
Radko Gudas was the game's third star and had a goal on the rare scoring play where 3 natural d-men figure in the scoring.
Richard Panik had his scoring streak snapped at 3 games.
You take solace from the fact the Admirals outshot the Pens 18-10 in the final two periods. They seemed to be absolutely shell shocked for about 5+ periods of play going back to the collapse in the opening game of the set against Albany. Unfortunately, Norfolk has dropped 4 points behind Hershey and are now tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the division.
Norfolk has a 2-game set against Connecticut on Friday and Saturday. The Whale sit atop the Northeast Division, so it's no easy draw for the Admirals.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Nope, THAT was probably rock bottom.
Dwayne Roloson allowed 6 goals on 21 shots for the loss before Mathieu Garon allowed 1 on 5 shots the rest of the way. 7 goals on 26 shots is pitiful. Was goaltending the reason for the loss? No. But you can't win with a save percentage that's an eyelash above .750. Can't do it.
I'm tired of puckhandling mistakes ending up in the back of the net. I'm tired of play acting leading to pucks ending up in the back of the net. These guys need to be playing a very stripped down very focused style right now, and not circus hockey. It's a zoo between the pipes every other game right now.
TOR Macarthur (7), (Gardiner, Connolly), 00:41
TB Lecavalier (9), (Stamkos, Malone)(PP), 8:38
TOR Connolly (3), (Kulemin, Franson)(PP), 17:56
TOR Bozak (3), (Kessel, Connolly)(PP), 19:22
TOR Colborne (1), (Frattin, Liles), 17:45
TOR Bozak (4), (unassisted), 3:07
TOR Lupul (11), (Bozek, Phaneuf), 4:28
TOR Crabb (3), (Frattin, Gardiner), 14:28
It was pretty pitiful to allow a goal right off the bat. Then the team responded and looked as good on the forecheck and on the power play as I think I've seen them this season up until Victor Hedman whiffed on what probably should've been a goal off a Marty St. Louis feed, and then took an unlucky 4 minute minor, and the wheels came off. And then the wheels came off again when Roloson once again showed why he should never stray from his net. It's embarrassing. I felt like I was watching a Brian Lawton/Rick Tocchet team, not a Steve Yzerman/Guy Boucher team.
The situation is not improving to any extent I feel comfortable with. I don't think huge changes have to be made, but I don't think the old, "The answers are in the room," is working. You can't tell me the guys in Norfolk are so bad that they aren't at least worth a look to see if they can inject some fresh blood and enthusiasm into the lineup. This team just looks flat at the start of every game and I honestly wonder how anyone could argue that things would be worse with Carter Ashton or Radko Gudas or Mark Barberio getting an opportunity. You can't tell me that Blair Jones and Bruno Gervais are so much better than those players that it isn't worth even considering, and I don't give a damn how far away the organization thinks Gudas and Barberio are. If you believe they'll bite as dogs they'll bite as puppies. What's the worse that could happen? They'd give up 7 goals to the Maple Leafs?
Brett Connolly had 1 blocked shot in 11:28.
Norfolk salvages victory in the shootout after giving up a late, 6th attacker goal.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 4 goals on 28 shots before stopping 4 of 5 in the shootout for the win.
ADK Wellwood, (3) (Roe), 10:28
NOR Ouellet, (3) (Barberio, Labrie), 14:36
ADK Sestito, (4) (Gustafsson, Akeson), 19:33 (PP)
NOR Ashton, (7) (Conacher, Barberio), 8:11
ADK McGinn, (1) (Pither, Brown), 15:43
NOR Johnson, (4) (Dimmen, Barberio), 1:01 (PP)
NOR Ouellet, (4) (Smith, Gudas), 18:41
ADK Hamel, (7) (Zolnierczyk), 19:32
Michel Ouellet and Janus were the game's first and third stars.
Mark Barberio had his 3rd multi-point game of the season and 2nd 3-point game. He was already leading all AHL d-men in scoring heading into the game and he's now clear ahead of the rest of the field by 4 points, with 10 points in 8 games. Interestingly, and surprisingly, Radko Gudas sits tied for 6th amongst d-men in scoring with 5 points in 8 games.
Norfolk outshot Adirondack 42-28 in the game.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions. There are no trophies or plaques or kisses from Morganna involved, but weâ€™re fairly certain this will be printed off and end up on a mantle somewhere. Quite simply, we wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospectâ€™s achievement on the ice.
This weekâ€™s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to â€¦ Radko Gudas, Norfolk Admirals
A brave Norfolk Admirals team has nothing to be ashamed about effort-wise in this playoffs.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Wins the Series 4-2
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 27 shots, including an unsuccessful third period penalty shot by Joe Vitale in the third period. Considering the winning goal was essentially a 3-on-1, there's not much more Tic could've done tonight. He finishes the playoffs with 1 shutout, a 2.20 GAA, and a .924 save percentage, and he looks like a lock to be Norfolk's starter next season. In all likelihood, Cedrick Desjardins will be the backup in Tampa Bay next season, and Tokarski's play down the stretch seems to indicate he's the type of netminder who wants and needs to be the clear cut #1 in order to be at his best after struggling a bit as a tandem starter with Desjardins. He's regained the title of the Lightning's "Goaltender of the Future" and the priority for next season, his third pro season, will be for Tokarski to prove he can be that consistent #1 goalie before potentially moving up to the NHL in the 4th season of his pro career. At least, that seems to be what the plan is for Tic.
WBS Wagner, (1) (Walker, Craig), 2:13 (PP)
WBS Wagner, (2) (Potter, Walker), 3:58 (PP)
WBS Wagner, (3) (Wallace, Potter), 18:36
NOR Pouliot, (4) (Ritola, Vernace), 14:18
NOR Jones, (1) (Ritola, Milam), 16:03 (PP)
WBS Vitale, (2) (Wallace, Collins), 7:23
NOR Wright, (1) (Fornataro, Pouliot), 10:35 (PP)
WBS Wallace, (1) (Vitale, Potter), 18:57 (EN)
WBS Sill, (1) (Strait, Thiessen), 19:21 (EN)
Marc-Antoine Pouliot was the game's third star.
When you consider the Penguins came into this series the best team in the Eastern Conference, and the Admirals had to win their last game just to avoid having to cross over into the Atlantic Division, the Admirals have nothing to feel ashamed of in playing this series so tightly. The hard work and character of this Admirals team is worthy of mention, and the team and organization have come such a long way in 4 seasons since the Lightning started their affiliation with Norfolk.
Coincidentally, the East's crossover team, Binghamton, just knocked off Manchester in Game 7 to advance to the Atlantic Division final against Portland. One wonders what shape a Norfolk/Manchester series might have taken if Norfolk hadn't beaten Connecticut to close the regular season.
The big question now is what this Norfolk Admirals team will look like next season, with several of their older players facing contract decisions and several of the Lightning's best young prospects ticketed for Virginia next season.
Will veterans like Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Chris Durno, Mike Vernace, Mathieu Roy, and Troy Milam be back with the team next year? What about long-time pros like Blair Jones, Mike Angelidis, Mattias Ritola, and Vladimir Mihalik? Mihalik and Ritola just finished their 4th years of pro hockey and Jones and Angelidis finished their 5th. Many of these players will surely have opportunities to play in European leagues next season. We know Johan Harju will, for instance, and the question is whether Johan will stay in North America after a disappointing second half. And will Kevin Quick's time in the Lightning organization be over as well?
Conversely, the Admirals will need to free up spots for several of the Lightning's top prospects. Carter Ashton and Charles Landry have already made appearances for the club this season in the playoffs. Richard Panik and Tyler Johnson seem like locks to be in Norfolk next season, too.
Next season could be a big change for the Admirals organization, as the last vestiges of previous regimes pass on. Change is inevitable for a minor league club, but the Admirals seem destined for even more change than is the norm. The good news is that they seem to have good goaltending locked down and even better coaching after a successful inaugural campaign by Head Coach Jon Cooper and assistant Mike Flanagan along with player development consultant Steve Thomas. This group seems to have taken a decent foundation laid by earlier teams and made it even stronger this year, and that foundation can help the new Admirals grow to be even more successful than this year's edition, in time. Look at how well guys like Mark Barberio and Radko Gudas took to the league this season. It portends good things.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Big trouble in Norfolk.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 4 goals on 16 shots before leaving the game with an injury. With Cedrick Desjardins likely shelved for the rest of the season, any kind of injury to Tic is a big, big problem. The early indication is that Tokarski had his chin sliced open with a skate blade. So, you'd think he should be back, but considerably more ugly, for the road trip.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the hard luck loss. It was, by far and away, Janus' best performance of the season, and he may inherit the starter's job if Tokarski is out for any length of time.
HER Greentree, (29) (McNeill, Fahey), 0:59
NOR Ritola, (5) (Pouliot, Barberio), 3:56
NOR Pouliot, (22) (Jones, Ritola), 6:09 (PP)
NOR Pouliot, (23) (Ritola, Milam), 18:53 (PP)
NOR Durno, (19) , 19:17
HER Bouchard, (12) (Souray), 2:33
HER Greentree, (30) (Aucoin, McNeill), 3:08 (PP)
HER McNeill, (7) (Perreault), 6:12
HER Gordon, (26) (Aucoin, Fahey), 17:34
Marc-Antoine Pouliot was the game's second star.
Mattias Ritola has 19 points in 12 AHL games this season. Classic case of being too good for the AHL but not quite good enough to stick in the NHL?
Radko Gudas is -9 since the calendar turned to 2011 and he has plummeted from a +20 rating to a +11 rating in a little over 3 months. With an assist tonight, the Lightning's other gifted young defenseman, Mark Barberio now has 28 points and is just 2 shy of the 30 point plateau.
Norfolk finishes their season 19-11-10 at home. There have 5 games remaining in the regular season, and all will be on the road.
Norfolk remains in 4th place in the East Division by 1 point thanks to a loss by Binghamton. The Ads still hold 1 game in hand on the Senators. Unfortunately, 3rd place Charlotte won to take a 5 point lead over the Admrials with Norfolk holding 2 games in hand. It's not impossible for Norfolk to catch the Checkers, but they have to win their next game in Charlotte to have any kind of legitimate chance. Honestly, though, I want no part of Hershey. I'd almost rather play Wilkes/Barre-Scranton or take the crossover into the Atlantic Division and play Portland or Manchester.
Norfolk's remaining schedule: at Charlotte on Monday, at Binghamton on Wednesday, at Syracuse next Friday and Saturday, and the season finale at Connecticut next Sunday. It's a brutal stretch of 5 road games in 7 nights, with uncertainty between the pipes because of injuries.
One bit of good news, with Worcester's 4-1 loss to Providence, the gap on the 4th place team in the Atlantic remained at 6 points. The Sharks have just 4 games remaining, so any combination of Norfolk points earned and Sharks points lost equal to 3 will officially clinch a playoff spot for the Admirals. But, right now, it feels like the team is backing into the playoffs, and that's not good.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Lightning wins the first half of their AHL/NHL battle with the Columbus organization.
Correction: Columbus' affiliation with Syracuse ended last season. Syracuse is now the Ducks' affiliate.
NOR Milam, (8) (Jones, Szczechura), 2:47
SYR Bonino, (4) (Paetsch, Green), 7:55 (PP)
NOR Gudas, (3) (Szczechura, Wright), 0:47
Radko Gudas, Troy Milam, and Tokarski were the game's three stars. Gudas is riding a three game points streak to go along with his ever-impressive plus/minus statistics.
Norfolk moves four points ahead of Charlotte again in second place in the East Division, nine points behind first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which had opened as big as a thirteen point advantage recently.
Box score from TheAHL.com.