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Juniors Game Night: 4-30-16

United States Hockey League

Bloomington Thunder 4 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 3
Eastern Conference Finals
Best-of-5 series tied, 1-1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, E, 6 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff totals: 6 GP, 0-2-2, +5, 6 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Dubuque limited Bloomington to just 19 shots on goal, but they scored on four of them to take Game 2, 4-3, and tie the series at one game apiece. The Saints scored all three of their goals in the third period. Zuhlsdorf had a holding penalty and a double minor for roughing. Game 3 is Friday in Indiana.

NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-30-16 Islanders at Lightning

Lightning begin to establish their dominance.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

NYI-1
TB-4

Series Tied 1-1

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 20 shots for the victory. He didn't face a lot of good chances, but he made the key situational saves as he rebounded from that fragrant performance in Game One. It's not at all surprising he played well in a rebound game.

First Period
6:03 TB Johnson(3), (Palat, Hedman)
11:55 TB Drouin(1), (Filppula)
15:15 NYI Kulemin(1), (Hickey, Quine)(PP)

Second Period
11:59 TB Hedman(1), (Johnson, Drouin)(PP)

Third Period
17:42 TB Johnson(4), (Garrison)(EN)

Victor Hedman, Jonathan Drouin, and Tyler Johnson were the game's three stars. I'd give an honorable mention to Ondrej Palat, personally.

Game One begged the question of what this series will look like once Bishop and the Lightning tighten up their game, and Game Two answered that question: pure dominance. The young Islanders, probably lacking the playoff experience to see the gathering dark clouds, ultimately had no clue what was about to hit them. The Lightning forechecked them like crazy, with speed that just tormented the Islanders D all game long as they gave away turnovers and lost 50/50 pucks en masse. The only thing that saved the Islanders from complete humiliation was the Lightning becoming the victim of some ticky tack calls in the First and Second Periods that yielded the Islanders' only goal on the Kulemin deflection of Hockey's point shot. Other than that, the Islanders barely got a sniff all game long and that's amazing considering that, with Matt Carle out, the Lightning were down to about 4-1/2 NHL caliber defensemen. That didn't matter, though, with the Lightning in the Isles end all game long.

On a tangential note: if you want to see what this series probably boils down to, go ahead and split screen how the Isles played protecting a multi-goal lead in Game One (turtle shelling) and how the Lightning played protecting a multi-goal lead in Game Two (pushing like crazy for the 3 goal advantage). One of these teams knows how to win in the playoffs and the other hasn't been in these situations. School's in session.

Oh, and Greiss is mortal. Drouin's goal was pretty soft, and I think we're about to see a reversion to the mean for Greiss. That's to say, I think he's a competent goalie, but if the Isles are expecting him to steal multiple wins to wrestle this series away from Bishop and the Lightning, that's probably a bridge too far for him to cross.

Now the series moves on to Brooklyn where the Lightning just need to get 1 of 2 games to get home ice and control of the series back. At this hour, given how dominant the Lightning have looked over the past about 90 minutes of hockey, that seems like a low bar to clear.

Matt Taormina was +1 in 5:31 of ice time.

Slater Koekkoek was +1 with 1 shot in 6:47 of ice time. He nearly got the kill shot goal in the Third Period, but overall he and Taormina simply weren't going to see the ice much in this game unless the Lightning really, really had broken it open.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-29-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 3 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 6
QMJHL Semifinals
Shawinigan wins best-of-7 series, 4-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-1-1, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 3 Hits
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 1-3-4, E, 25 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff totals: 15 GP, 8-4-12, +5, 26 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Dennis Yan and the Cataractes advanced to the QMJHL Finals with a 6-3 home win in Game 5 against the Sea Dogs. Anthony Beauvieller (Islanders) had two goals and five points for Shawinigan. Boko Imama returned for Saint John, and may have played his final junior game Friday. He is eligible for the pros next season should the Lightning choose to sign him. He could also return to juniors as an overager and the Lightning would retain his rights for another year. Mathieu Joseph’s remarkable season officially ends, though he was out for the remainder of the playoffs with a severe cut on his calf that required surgery. He’ll head back to Saint John next year. Yan and Shawinigan await the winner of Moncton and Rouyn-Noranda, Nikita Kucherov’s former team.

United States Hockey League

Bloomington Thunder 1 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 7
Eastern Conference Finals
Dubuque leads best-of-5 series, 1-0

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 0-2-2, +5, 0 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Captain Keegan Ford (undrafted, Michigan Tech commit) had two goals and two assists from the blueline to lead the Saints to a 7-1 shellacking of Bloomington in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Ryan Zuhlsdorf, who is the only NHL draft pick in the series, finished plus-3 in the win. The Thunder, who upset Cedar Rapids in five games in the conference semifinals, had a 1-0 lead after the first period.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-28-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3 (OT)
QMJHL Semifinals
Shawinigan lead best-of-7 series, 3-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 Hit
Playoff totals: 14 GP, 7-4-11, +5, 24 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Dennis Yan was back in the Cataractes lineup after being suspended for Game 3 due to a cross-checking penalty. He did not register a point in Game 4, where Shawinigan used an overtime goal to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Sea Dogs. Former Lightning camper Philippe Cadorette stopped 36 of 39 shots in the win. Danny Moynihan (undrafted, camped with San Jose) got the game-winner. Shawinigan can punch their ticket to the QMJHL Finals with a win at home Friday. Lightning prospect Boko Imama can return for Game 5.

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Volume 64

This week’s “Mike Commodore Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast (also available on Lightning Power Play, Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· The No. 64
· Biggest jersey fail in Lightning history
· Red Wings review
· NYI Game 1 recap – Should we Panik?
· Who wears the goat horns for Game 1?
· A new intangible for Ryan Callahan
· Next step for each Black Ace

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-27-16 Islanders at Lightning

Soft goals doom Lightning in Game One.

Eastern Conference Semifinals

NYI-5
TB-3

Islanders Lead the Series 1-0

Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 13 shots for the loss before being pulled in the Second Period. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 8 shots he faced the rest of the way, with the benefit of a couple of posts. Bishop's poor performance was the difference in this game, as two of his goals allowed were of the soft variety. His first goal allowed to Hamonic was about as soft and bad a goal as you'll see an NHL netminder allow, and it deflated the Lightning's early momentum. As you'll recall, Bishop looked off balance in Game One of the Detroit series, too. I said it then and I'll say it now: Bishop doesn't tend to have back-to-back stinkers, so there's no need to panic, in my opinion.

First Period
3:05 TB Palat(2), (Drouin, Namestnikov)
5:44 NYI Hamonic(1), (Quine, Tavares)
17:28 NYI Prince(2), (Strome, Nelson)
19:57 NYI Prince(3), (Strome, Nelson)

Second Period
8:59 NYI Tavares(6), (Okposo, Nielsen)(PP)

Third Period
7:41 TB Kucherov(6), (Carle, Hedman)
17:28 TB Filppula(1), (Killorn, Garrison)
19:05 NYI Clutterbuck(1), (Cizikas, DeHaan)(EN)

Nikita Kucherov was the game's third star.

Soft goals often end up being the margin of victory in a game, and tonight was no difference. Take those out of the equation tonight, and this game is a toss up the Lightning quite possibly win because of their overall possession advantage. A lot is going to be made about "rust" because of the Lightning's layoff since the Detroit series, but that's lazy journalism and ignores the fact the Lightning absolutely dominated the early going in this contest, had a 1 goal lead, and missed a couple of golden opportunities to push that lead to 2-0 on chances by Killorn and Palat. A lot will also be made about the hit on Condra by Cizikas that appeared to leave Condra concussed, but to me the emotional turning point of the game absolutely was that snow cone Bishop allowed to Hamonic. A shot fired from a bad angle off the boards trickling through your goaltender is incredibly demoralizing. You just can't allow that goal in the playoffs. Period. The fact the Lightning followed it up with two brain dead coverage efforts on the next two goals didn't help matters, but if you had to put your finger on anything, you'd have to put it on Bishop's play tonight. If Ben Bishop plays like himself the rest of this series, I've got to say, I still like Tampa Bay's chances.

Game Two obviously takes on added importance for the Lightning. Fortunately, I thought their response in the Third Period of Game One was excellent. I thought they showed some very good habits while the Islanders showed some pretty awful habits turtling a bit in the final frame. That sort of thing tends to have a little carry over, so if I was a betting man I might place some currency behind the Lightning having an excellent start in Game Two and ultimately sending this series to Brooklyn tied up.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-26-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 7 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3
QMJHL Semifinals
Shawinigan lead best-of-7 series, 2-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 7-4-11, +6, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Shawinigan scored seven goals for the second straight game, taking a 2-1 series lead against the Sea Dogs. Yan was suspended for a cross-check.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-23-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 1 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 7
QMJHL Semifinals
Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 2-0-2, +1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 0 Hits
Playoff totals: 13 GP, 7-4-11, +6, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Shawinigan broke open a close, 2-1 game in the second period with five unanswered goals. Dennis Yan scored two of them; one on the power play. The Cataractes needed a Game 2 win after dropping Game 1 in overtime. The series now shifts to Saint John Tuesday tied, 1-1.

United States Hockey League

Green Bay Gamblers 1 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 2 (OT)
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Dubuque wins best-of-5 series, 3-1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Playoff totals: 4 GP, 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

The Saints got a goal from Brett Boeing (undrafted) at 16:55 of overtime to win the game and the series. Dubuque moves on past the higher-seeded Gamblers (sorry, Jon Cooper) and will face the winner of Cedar Rapids and Bloomington for the conference title. Cedar Rapids is currently up 2-1 in the series. Hunter Miska (Undrafted Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth commit) stopped 37/38 shots in Dubuque’s win. Zuhlsdorf had a secondary assist on the Saints’ regulation power play goal.

Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 4-22-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Saint John Sea Dogs 6 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 5 (OT)
QMJHL Semifinals
Saint John leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: Did not play (suspended)
Playoff totals: 8 GP, 1-2-3, -2, 23 PIM
Season totals: 47 GP, 7-12-19, -3, 84 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: Did not play (injured – out for playoffs)
Playoff totals: 5 GP, 5-2-7, +4, 8 PIM
Season totals: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

W Dennis Yan, SHAW: 1-0-1, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 2 Hits
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 5-4-9, +5, 22 PIM
Season totals: 62 GP, 32-37-69, +8, 86 PIM

Saint John drew first blood in its series against Shawinigan, stealing home ice advantage with a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 1. Yan scored his fifth goal of the playoffs, which temporarily tied the game at four in the third period. The Sea Dogs got the game-winner in the first minute of overtime. The winner of this series advances to the QMJHL Finals.

United States Hockey League

Green Bay Gamblers 1 @ Dubuque Fighting Saints 6
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Dubuque leads best-of-5 series, 2-1

D Ryan Zuhlsdorf, DBQ: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff totals: 3 GP, 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 0-27-27, -2, 59 PIM
(University of Minnesota signee)

Dubuque is one win away from advancing to the conference finals after defeating the visiting Gamblers 6-1 Friday. Game 4 is Saturday in Iowa.

NHL Playoff Game Night: 4-21-16 Red Wings at Lightning

Bishop single handedly sends Detroit to the golf course.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

DET-0
TB-1

Tampa Bay Wins the Series 4-1

Ben Bishop sparkled, stopping all 34 shots he faced for the series clinching shutout victory. He carried his teammates tonight, and administered elite-level U of Maine Justice.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
18:17 TB Killorn(3), (Callahan)

Bishop and Alex Killorn were the game's first and third stars, respectively.

Man, was this ever an important win. The Lightning looked gassed tonight, and with nagging injuries to the likes of Tyler Johnson stacking on top of more serious injuries to Brown, Stamkos, and Stralman, the team just was completely lacking in energy tonight with the exception of one or two players like Jonathan Drouin. As the game winded on and they squandered a bevy of power play opportunities in the First and Second Period, it was clear Bishop was going to have to steal the win, and he ultimately did. A Mrazek turnover behind his cage was picked off by a hustling Ryan Callahan, and the Lightning sent the Red Wings home for the second straight year. Burn the tape of everything but that goal and the handshake line, and lets move on.

On the other side of the Atlantic Division playoff bracket you have to sincerely hope that the Islanders and Panthers choose to kill each other in a bloody murder-suicide that lasts the span of the full seven games. Let the bodies hit the floor, please. Do I ultimately have a preference between the two? Well, I might slightly prefer to play the Islanders because Florida has the more established netminder in Luongo, but the Isles have the better overall depth and high-end scorers so it's a near wash. A healthy, energetic Lightning team has a very good chance of advancing against either one, though, and that's why Bishop's heroics tonight were so important.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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