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We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for his recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Bolt Prospect of the Week for February 25, 2015 is … Vladislav Namestnikov, C, Syracuse Crunch (AHL – USA).
With Vladislav Namestnikov in a four-game point drought and the Syracuse Crunch on a five-game losing streak, both looked to rebound.
The Crunch’s top line center registered a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over Albany Friday, added a helper in a 5-3 victory over Binghamton Saturday, and recorded the game-winner and two assists in a 4-3 win in Rochester Sunday. The six-point, plus-five weekend earned Namestnikov the honor of being named the American Hockey League Player of the Week Monday, and our Bolt Prospect of the Week today.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Rimouski Oceanic 3 @ Quebec Remparts 0
W Adam Erne, QUE: Did not play
Season totals: 52 GP, 37-38-75, +18, 89 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 48 GP, 21-41-62, -3, 65 PIM
Erne was injured against Val-d’Or last game, and one report stated Erne claimed at the morning skate he was healthy enough to play against Rimouski. He was a last-minute scratch, but should be back soon.
Western Hockey League
Calgary Hitmen 3 @ Seattle Thunderbirds 2
D Ben Thomas, CAL: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 48 GP, 5-23-28, +15, 20 PIM
2013-14 totals: 72 GP, 7-24-31, +11, 39 PIM
Calgary continued its swing through the Pacific Northwest with a win in Seattle Tuesday. The Hitmen, who have already clinched a playoff spot, sit in second in the Eastern Conference, just ahead of Medicine Hat, but well back of Brandon for first. Calgary is 9-1 in its last 10 games and has won five in a row.
No. 14 Harvard Crimson 2 @ Boston College Eagles 3 (OT)
F Brian Hart, HAR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 6-5-11, -2, 17 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 30 GP, 7-8-15, -8, 20 PIM
BC got a goal from Ryan Fitzgerald, a Bruins fourth rounder and son of former Nashville Predators captain Tom Fitzgerald, to win the Beanpot Third Place game.
No. 3 Boston University Terriers 4 @ Northeastern Huskies 3 (OT)
D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, +2, 4 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 28 GP, 2-6-8, +12, 46 PIM
2013-2014 totals (USHL): 19 GP, 1-4-5, +1, 36 PIM
Northeastern scored twice in the third period to force overtime against BU, but another Bruins draft pick, Matt Grzelcyk, scored his second goal of the game for the Terriers in overtime to give BU the 2015 Beanpot championship. Northeastern goalie Clay Witt, a possible Lightning free agent target, stopped 30 shots in the overtime loss.
With the graduation of Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin from prospect status here on Bolt Prospects, it's officially time for our annual mid-season ritual of releasing our Midterm Rankings. While the season to date has been marked by a few surprises, the overall shape and outline of the Lightning organization appears to be in line with our early season expectations. Fresh from a season that saw an unprecedented migration of high-quality talent from the AHL to the NHL level, the Lightning organization still enjoys a handful of highly regarded top-tier prospects. But, the amazing depth the Lightning enjoyed is still in the process of being rebuilt. And, with injuries playing a factor, that depth is being heavily taxed midway through the 2014-2015 campaign, particularly at the defenseman position.
The rules remain the same: Only prospects who were under the age of 24 on opening night of the Lightning season are eligible for inclusion in the rankings (our apologies, Luke Witkowski). A skater prospect is considered graduated if they play 41 games in a single NHL season or they collect 82 career NHL games. Goaltenders graduate with 30 decisions in a single NHL season or 41 career NHL decisions. Finally, NCAA-based prospects are eligible for inclusion on the list as long as they are in school, regardless of their age. With the rules out of the way, let's begin...
Defense falls apart at the end of the road.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 18 shots. The stat line looks terrible but there was really only one goal I felt was one that he'd definitely want back. With that said, part of being an elite goaltender is keeping your team in contact and at least giving them a chance by making 1-2 key stops. He didn't do that tonight by allowing the team to fall behind by 3 in the Third Period, which is almost always a death sentence.
10:53 TB Palat (15), (Johnson)
16:21 COL MacKinnon (10), (Landeskog)
3:10 COL MacKinnon (11), (O'Reilly, Barrie)
3:39 COL Duchene (16), (unassisted)
5:51 TB Johnson (23), (Kucherov, Killorn)
12:50 COL MacKinnon (12), (O'Reilly)
7:20 COL Tanguay (16), (Everberg)
11:43 TB Connolly (12), (Filppula, Paquette)
18:58 TB Kucherov (23), (Johnson, Hedman)
In the universe I come from, if you score 4 goals and hold your opponent to 18 shots, you should win. The only time that doesn't happen is when you have self-inflicted wounds like really terrible turnovers against a skilled team. And, that's what happened tonight. This youthful defense the Lightning have patched together with Carle and Gudas out has been such a mixed bag. They'll play 2-3 decent games and then absolutely wet the bed like they did tonight. Nesterov, Barberio, and Hedman each had plays I think they'd want back, and it really burned the Lightning hard tonight.
Hedman's inclusion on the goat horn list is particularly vexing given what I've said about best players needing to be best players. So is Steven Stamkos checking in at -3 and 31% on draws. Were both guys so awful they should be traded? No, but as I've said those two guys really need to start being the Lightning's top players night in and night out. Stamkos is the engine that makes Callahan go, and the young defense just seems to go as Hedman goes. God bless the Palat/Johnson/Kucherov line, but I don't want them to have to carry the team in the playoffs and I don't want a guy like Stralman or Garrison to have to play over their head. Stamkos and Hedman are trophy-winning caliber talents who need to start playing like it. I'm not saying it to be mean or to run the guys out of town, it's just the expectations have to rise now.
It's too bad. Winning 4 of 5 on this road trip would've been a wildly successful outcome. 3 out of 5 is minimally acceptable, but leaving 2 winnable points on the ice like the team did tonight will ultimately cost them an Atlantic Division banner at the end of the year, barring them finding their next gear.
Nikita Nesterov had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:29. He and Garrison got split on MacKinnon's first goal and he made the absolutely horrible turnover of Duchene's goal. That turnover gets you demoted on a lot of teams. As it is, it might get him a seat in the pressbox, at least.