Drouinsanity returns to the Lightning and helps secure home ice for the first round.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 22 shots for the victory. I reiterate one of the biggest virtues of Bishop since he's joined the Lightning: he typically does not have two clunkers in a row.
5:45 TB Condra(6), (Sustr, Boyle)
7:16 NJ Kalinin(7), (Moore, Gionta)
14:45 TB Paquette(6), (Filppula, Carle)
3:50 TB Drouin(3), (Namestnikov)
9:26 NJ Kalinin(8), (Farnham)
19:13 TB Filppula(8), (Kucherov, Carle)(EN)
Jonathan Drouin was the game's second star.
For a Lightning team that hasn't had a ton to feel good about lately, tonight was a bit of psychological salve for their wounds. For the second time in the past few weeks, the Lightning played the style of game they need to in order to be successful without Stralman and Stamkos and secured a win against a hard working, fairly well structured opponent. In doing so, they got some positive results from players who have had a tough time of it all season who they now need to step up if they're going to weather their early opponents in the postseason. There's no doubt Erik Condra's playing some of his best hockey of the season lately after having gone missing for some 3/4 of the campaign. Cedric Paquette finally got back in the goal column for the first time in a blue moon, which is also a hopeful sign. It's hard to believe Paquette has sagged to just 6 goals after how well he played in the postseason last year including actually outplaying Jonathan Toews head to head in the early games of the Stanley Cup Final. And then there's 2/3 of the Dead Money Trio: Matt Carle and Valtteri Filppula. Is Matt Carle still a turnstile with eyeballs at times? Yes. Does Matt Carle still do some gobsmacking idiotic things when he has the puck at times? Yes. Has he improved somewhat, though, to help fill minutes in the absence of Stralman and Hedman? Absolutely. No denying it. And then there's Valtteri Filppula, who might be the single biggest source of my personal frustration this season. He actually provided a multi-point night tonight and I would've lost a bet if anyone had asked me to go in on whether he'd have another goal by the end of the regular season. Are 8 goals sufficient for a centerman at his salary price point? You all know the answer to that. But, a good postseason performance has a way of glossing over a disappointing regular season.
And then there's Jonathan Drouin. I feel really happy for both the Lightning organization and Drouin in how things have unfolded since Drouin decided to report back to Syracuse. The Lightning got to enforce organizational discipline and got Drouin the instructional coaching and conditioning he needed. And, Drouin capitalized when the opportunity to get back into the NHL finally came, which again proves what upside he has as a player. So, at this hour, both sides have to feel like they "won" something in a scenario where neither can have felt all that great about everything that's happened. Where it goes from here? That's another matter. Short term, Drouin's walking into a situation that seems tailor made for him to step up and prove he's a budding superstar. But, being asked to fill Steven Stamkos' shoes is a double edged sword that is, frankly, an unreasonable expectation for Drouin to have to live up to. Reason needs to prevail here in the expectation game. Drouin's not going to score the GWG every night and he's not going to instantly fill the shoes of one of the 10-20 best scorers in the game overnight. Fans, the organization, and the Drouin camp alike need to have reasonable targets for his performance, such as ensuring that scoring chances he helps create outpace those he surrenders (he won't be perfect defensively, some mistakes will happen) at a reasonable ratio, and that he's chipping in every 2-3 games. If he can do that, all sides involved should be happy with that, and it should open the door to any number of scenarios that include everything from Drouin's trade request being honored for a solid return or Drouin returning to Tampa Bay as a valued member of the organization (Vincent Lecavalier ultimately learned to live with and respect John Tortorella, so all things are possible with patience and if people act like adults). Anything more will be gravy.
The win clinches the #2 position in the Atlantic Division and home ice in the first round, while the Lightning also leapt over that 96 point target line for the season just 1 game behind schedule. That means they'll draw Detroit or Boston in the first round. Detroit would be more ideal, in my opinion, and they'd be the opponent if the shooting began right now, but they got smoked head to head by Boston tonight heading into their regular season finale against the Rangers whereas Boston draws a seemingly less difficult challenge against the Senators. Both teams are knotted in points, but DET has the tiebreaker because of their ROW advantage of 1 whole game. It's that tight.
Matt Taormina had 2 blocked shots in 17:01. It's a nice little late season reward for Taormina to get to suit up against his old organization and get a W against them.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Jonathan Drouin and defenseman Matt Taormina from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced. Additionally, the Bolts have reassigned defenseman Slater Koekkoek to Syracuse.
Drouin, 21, has skated in 17 games with the Crunch this season, recording 11 goals and 13 points to go along with 12 penalty minutes. He ranks tied for fifth on the Crunch with five power-play tallies, despite skating in only 17 games with Syracuse. The Ste-Agathe, Quebec native has also appeared in 19 games with the Lightning this season, posting a pair of goals and eight points. Drouin has played in 89 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over the past two seasons, registering six goals and 40 points.
Taormina, 29, has skated in one game with the Lightning this season, recording one shot on goal. The 5-foot-9, 192-pound defenseman has appeared in 57 career NHL games, registering four goals and 12 points. Taormina ranks tied for first among all Crunch defensemen for points with 41 this season. He leads all Syracuse defensemen for goals (13) and power-play goals (five).
Koekkoek, 22, has played in nine games with the Lightning this season, posting one assist and two penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound defenseman has also skated in 55 games with Syracuse, recording five goals and 15 points to go along with 24 penalty minutes.
This week’s “Cory Stillman” extended version of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (shorter version available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· No. 61
· Slim margin for error entering playoffs
· Drouin’s back
· Junior playoffs overiew
· Interviews with Anthony Cirelli, Mitchell Stephens
· #BPMailbag (Mind games … Syr top line vs TB … Too late to tank? … Prospects ahead of schedule … Odd-man rushes missing … Kucherov vs. Tarasenko … Team more ready for Cup run? … Marchessault to Siberia … DeAngelo an NHL option? … Black Aces impact … Point to take over for Johnson? … Craziest season ever? … Draft type target … Goalie equipment affect Bishop vs Vasy? … Can a team play in a shell when they don’t have the lead?)
Note: Apologies for poor audio quality this week
Ontario Hockey League
Peterborough Petes 1 @ North Bay Battalion 4
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
North Bay wins best-of-7 series, 4-3
D Dominik Masin, PBO: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 0-3-3, +3, 12 PIM
Season totals: 57 GP, 8-32-40, +24, 50 PIM
D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 0-1-1, -4, 11 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 5-19-24, +1, 46 PIM
Peterborough took North Bay to the limit, but ultimately fell to the Battalion and is now out of the playoffs. Peterborough scored first, but North Bay responded with four goals, including a late empty-netter. The game marks the close of Dominik Masin’s junior career. He’s signed to an entry-level contract already and will likely join AHL Syracuse in the next few days. He could have played in the AHL this year but returned to the OHL to get ice time after missing the second half of last season. He started slow, but was near a point-per-game player over the last couple months while playing on the top pair with fellow Lightning prospect Matt Spencer. Spencer, who was a team-worst -4 in the series, will return to the OHL next season. It’s unclear if he’ll be one of the prospects brought into Syracuse to finish the AHL season.
Second round match-ups involving Lightning prospects:
"Try hard" Lightning back into the playoffs.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss. His soft goal on Stepan's second on a slapper off the board was the margin, as soft goals often are.
2:42 TB Sustr(4), (Namestnikov, Marchessault)
6:07 TB Boyle(13), (Palat, Johnson)(PP)
16:55 NYR Stepan(21), (Zuccarello, Yandle)(PP)
2:33 NYR Stepan(22), (Zuccarello, Klein)
4:46 NYR Kreider(21), (M. Staal, Stepan)
Ondrej Palat was the game's third star.
The Lightning had more than enough opportunities to win this game. They jumped out to the 2-0 lead and had plenty of chances to push it to a 3 goal margin with a bushel of power play opportunities including a 5-minute major. Ultimately, the Lightning just could not crack Lundqvist to put the kill shot on the Rangers and they invited the comeback given how shorthanded Tampa Bay was tonight. On top of the regular season-ending injuries to Stralman and Stamkos they also had Hedman and Callahan out of the lineup tonight. If you're a glass half full person, you can point to the fact the Lightning manufactured 41 shots tonight with that lineup. They tried hard, and with a little better goaltending they might've stolen a point out of the night. And, yes, they probably figured out some things about how to play without some of their big guns, which will have some value moving forward. But, in the end, there just aren't any moral victories at this time of year.
Fortunately, with the Bruins losing in the SO to Carolina, the Lightning backed into a playoff spot. That's notable given that the team missed the 96 point target at the 80 game market. In another season, they might be in real trouble right now. However, with how uneven the East is this year, they can actually clinch home ice in the first round with 1 more point. They'll need it. The "try hard" Lightning are better at home, where their power play is considerably less rancid than it is on the road.
Nikita Nesterov may want to join the witness protection program after that shift on the game winning goal. That's all I'll say about that.
Slater Koekkoek had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:08. He wasn't perfect, but I thought he played reasonably well in a tight game against a quality opponent in a big market on the road. With efforts like that, I'd like to believe he'll earn some more game time to develop. I also thought he kind of surprised the Rangers a bit with the quality of his point shot in the game. He produced some rebounds with it tonight.
There were two new faces on the ice for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.
Mitchell Stephens and Anthony Cirelli, two Tampa Bay Lightning picks from the 2015 draft, took the ice for the first time in Syracuse after signing amateur tryouts with the Crunch this week. The split practice involved lots of shooting and possession drills for the two centers, who stuck together throughout most of the workouts.
Although Stephens and Cirelli will likely return to their respective junior teams next season, the Lightning organization wanted both players to get a sample of the game at the pro level.
“They’re two smart hockey players,” Crunch head coach Rob Zettler said. “They both have another year of junior left, but we wanted to get them in here and give them a taste of pro hockey. We’ll see -- I’m not sure -- whether they’ll play or not. We’ll see what happens over the course of the next five games.”
Oh look, a dumpster fire!
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 23 shots for the loss, 2 of which were pretty heinous softies. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 13 shots he faced the rest of the way. The good news is that Bishop typically never has two clunkers in a row.
13:18 NYI Pulock(2), (Okposo, Tavares)
2:08 TB Killorn(14), (Kucherov, Carle)
11:00 NYI Martin(9), (Clutterbuck, Cizikas)
15:23 NYI Nelson(26), (Kulemin)
16:15 NYI Tavares(30), (Nielsen, Okposo)(PP)
19:53 TB Hedman(10), (Carle, Namestnikov)
4:28 NYI Boychuk(9), (Tavares)
Other than Cedric Paquette beating the dog out of Ryan Pulock to the extent Pulock's ancestors probably felt that whoopin', there was nothing of merit to this game. The Lightning stunk in pretty much every aspect of the contest. If there was one thing I'd want the team to focus on immediately, though, it'd be to stop retreating off the blueline against the rush like the Visigoths are coming over the Seventh Hill at them. There's so much fear in that Lightning blueline right now, partially due to the stone footedness of Sustr and Carle, and it's killing them. You'll recognize Carle as the turnstile with skates in the video of the Islanders' second goal.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Mitchell Stephens to a three-year, entry-level contract, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Stephens, 19, skated in 39 games with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League this past season, collecting 20 goals and 38 points to go along with 14 penalty minutes. Stephens missed 29 games during the regular season but still ranked fifth on the Spirit for points and tied for fourth for goals. The Peterborough, Ontario, native also appeared in four games for Saginaw during the 2016 OHL Playoffs, posting two goals and three points.
The 6-foot, 193-pound forward has skated in 158 career OHL games, all with Saginaw over three seasons, recording 51 goals and 107 points. Stephens also suited up for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Jr. Championships this past season, notching a goal and two points in five tournament games.
Stephens was selected by the Lightning in the second round, 33rd overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft.
Stephens is a young Callahan in effort and character, but can play both center and wing. He played center all year on Saginaw's top line and put up good numbers when healthy. He broke his foot early in the year and missed several weeks, but returned just in time to make Team Canada and perform well at the WJC's.
Stephens' hands are underrated and he's very poised with the puck. He's an excellent complimentary forward with some skill who will be a favorite of coaches throughout his career. He could have the same impact on the Lightning eventually as Ondrej Palat (or Callahan had with the Rangers earlier in his career).
The second rounder won't turn 20 until February, so while he can join Syracuse now, he has to go back to juniors next fall if he doesn't make the Lightning - which isn't expected. He will probably captain the Spirit next season and may wear a letter for Canada next Christmas.
Syracuse crushes Utica, keeping extremely slim hopes alive.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory.
UTI LaBate, (9) (Hensick, Landry), 9:02 (PP)
UTI Bancks, (14) (Hensick, Landry), 5:11
SYR Vermin, (7) (Peca), 7:04 (SH)
SYR Darcy, (4) (Taormina, Dotchin), 9:06
SYR Vermin, (8) (Peca, Taormina), 10:04 (PP)
UTI Friesen, (12) (Grenier, Fedun), 13:50 (PP)
SYR Erne, (13) (Walcott, Blujus), 2:01
SYR Ikonen, (3) (Richard, Thomas), 3:39
SYR Tambellini, (25) (Peca), 17:56
SYR Tambellini, (26) (Thomas, McGinn), 19:18
It's kind of remarkable that the day Jonathan Drouin sat out due to a lower body injury that the Crunch went and scored 7 goals.
Peca continues his strong late season charge, extending his points streak to 6 games with 1 goal and 10 points in that span. Going back to March 6th, he's got 1 goal and 16 points in a 13 game stretch, including 5 multi-point games. He's definitely throwing his hat in the ring to be the next Conacher/Johnson type in the Lightning organization.
Speaking of multi-point efforts, Ben Thomas had his first as a pro today. He's got 3 helpers in his first 4 pro games. He's been like found money thus far for Syracuse.
Unfortunately, despite the severity of today's whipping of the Comets, it still only counts as 2 points in the standings. That places Syracuse 6 points back of Utica for 3rd in the North Division with the Comets still holding a game in hand. Portland and Bridgeport maintain an 8 point gap on Syracuse in the crossover scenario, so it looks like catching Utica in the final 5 regular season games is the formula for the postseason. The Crunch do have 2 more head-to-head matchups against the Comets, but it's still going to be like threading the needle for the Crunch to make the playoffs.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
United States Hockey League
Omaha Lancers 2 @ Chicago Steel 3
G Kris Oldham, OMA: Did not play
Season totals: 31 GP, 12-15-4, 2.82 GAA, .905 sv%, 1 SO
2014-15 totals: 33 GP, 21-6-4, 2.49 GAA, .908 sv%, 1 SO
(University of Nebraska-Omaha signee)
Zackarias Skog was back in net for Omaha, but the Lancers couldn’t grab a road win. They are sixth in the 8-team Western Conference.
Dubuque Fighting Saints 1 @ Green Bay Gamblers 4
D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Season totals: 44 GP, 0-27-27, -5, 57 PIM
With Dubuque: 14 GP, 0-4-4, +2, 6 PIM
With Sioux City: 30 GP, 0-23-23, -7, 51 PIM
2014-15 totals: 56 GP, 3-19-22, +25, 58 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)
Coming off scoring 15 goals in two games, the Saints could only manage one against Jon Cooper’s former club.