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NHL Game Night: 1-26-17 Lightning at Panthers

Lightning waste inspired performance by young Vasilevskiy.

TB-1
FLA-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 37 shots for the OT loss. I feel sick for the kid, because he absolutely deserved the win tonight and had no chance on the two goals he allowed. The good news is that, with back-to-back quality starts, he's starting to answer some questions in the affirmative about his ability to be the starter. And, make no mistake about it, the mere fact he was given back-to-back starts is no coincidence. The Lightning are in full evaluation mode now with the season pretty much out of hand.

First Period
9:55 FLA Jokinen (5), (Trocheck, Yandle)(SH)
11:33 TB Kucherov (19), (Drouin, Killorn)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
1:49 FLA Marchessault (14), (Yandle, Jokinen)(PP)

Vasilevskiy was the game's third star. Well deserved.

Prior to the game defenseman Nikita Nesterov was dealt to Montreal for a 23-year old minor league depth defenseman (Jonathan Racine) and a late round draft pick. Moving Nesterov should be viewed as the team giving up on a young defenseman whose anemic offensive production never really balanced out his defensive deficiencies, which simply weren't improving.

As for the game, the Lightning played a pretty emotionless, antiseptic game in the First Period. But, as the Panthers acted like the classless lumberjacks they always do, the intensity level came up and the team played a fairly even game with a reasonable work rate. Still, we're not seeing certain players like the Triplets play as well as you'd like to see them right now in this evaluation period. Tyler Johnson ultimately wore the goat horns for taking a penalty following a terrible turnover in OT. That's not good from one of the guys on this roster who I honestly believe is being scrutinized to determine his long term role (or lack thereof) in the organization.

Jake Dotchin had 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 17:20. Mixed bag. I detected at least one bad turnover and his lack of foot speed and experience probably contributed to his two interference calls. That said, he did make some nice plays in all three zones, too. The issue I have with Dotchin is that, with his skating being what it is (and this probably goes with Witkowski, too), I have a hard time seeing him as more than a Band-aid. Can he be an NHL'er in a 6th/7th defenseman role? Perhaps. But, on an elite club like the Lightning should be?

Gabriel Dumont had 5 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 7:27. He may be small, but he sure did beat the stuffing out of McKegg tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Deal Nesterov to Montreal for Prospect, Pick

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired defenseman Jonathan Racine, along with a sixth-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft, from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defenseman Nikita Nesterov, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Racine, 23, has played in one NHL game, that coming during the 2013-14 season while a member of the Florida Panthers. He was traded from the Panthers to Montreal prior to the start of this season and has played 26 games for the St. John’s IceCaps, the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate. Racine has three assists and ranks fourth on the team and first among IceCaps’ defensemen for penalty minutes with 58.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Racine was originally a third round draft pick, 87th overall, of the Florida Panthers at the 2011 NHL Draft

The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 86

This is this week’s “86 86 86 86 86 86 86” edition of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· Kucherov’s journey to the NHL
· Dotchin’s debut
· Lightning could be on to something, or not at all, but I'm betting on _____
· What happens if TB is sellers? Who’s safe?
· Lots of work to do regardless if TB is buying or selling
· Nester-on or Nester-off?
· Mailbag apology

Click here to listen

AHL Game Night: 1-25-16 Crunch at Penguins

Another strong effort against the East's top team fails to yield the full two points.

SYR-2
WBS-3 (OT)

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the OT loss.

First Period
13:26 SYR Vermin (8), (Conacher, Gourde)

Second Period
4:15 WBS Kostopoulos (14), (Blueger)
6:30 WBS Porter (7), (Warsofsky, Gaunce)
9:31 SYR Comrie (4), (Hart, Ikonen)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
4:58 WBS Warsofsky (9), (unassisted)

The Crunch actually outshot the Penguins 41-29 in the contest, but couldn't bury the chance to pull out the victory.

Syracuse is 1 point back of Albany in the North Division with 1 game in hand on the Devils.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

KHL Game Day: 1-25-17

Spartak Moscow 1 vs. St. Petersburg 2
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 5 SOG
Season totals: 50 GP, 22-42-64, +33, 8 PIM

Nikita Gusev was scoreless in 17:59 of ice time as SKA edged Spartak 2-1. Ex-NHL'er Ilya Kovalchuk scored the Third Period game winner for SKA.

NHL Game Night: 1-24-17 Lightning at Blackhawks

Too little too late?

TB-5
CHI-2

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the victory. Vasilevskiy needs to string together some quality starts like this to begin to answer the question as to whether he can take over the starting duties from Bishop full time next season. That's one of the big agenda items still to be sorted out this year.

First Period
10:23 CHI Toews (9), (Panik, Hartman)
18:35 TB Boyle (12), (Filppula)

Second Period
1:26 CHI Keith (3), (Panarin, Toews)

Third Period
2:47 TB Nesterov (3), (Boyle)
6:14 TB Johnson (14), (Killorn, Filppula)
6:44 TB Johnson (15), (Killorn, Vasilevskiy)
17:55 TB Kucherov (18), (unassisted)(EN)

It's a good win against a quality opponent, take nothing away from it as an individual game. But, in the grand scheme of things, barring a crazy 10-game winning streak thrown in somewhere, the standings math is just too dire right now. Sitting on 49 points through 49 games, for the Lightning to get on pace to hit 96 points by game 80 with 2 games left to play, the team would have to get 47 of the next 62 possible points. That's .758 hockey to get on a comfortable playoff pace. Even if you want to gamble the team can get the 4 extra points in games 81 and 82 to get over the finish line and lower the target to 92 points by game 80, that's still .694 hockey and relying on a lot of help/tie breakers to fall the team's way. That's just nearly an impossible ask for this group.

Still, there were some positive developments in this game. I think the Lightning have some hard questions to ask of the three former members of The Triplets as to what degree they ride or die with them in the long run. Palat and Johnson have been inconsistent and Kucherov hasn't fully been himself since returning from injury earlier this season. So, for Johnson to step up and pot a couple of key goals in this game is hopefully the harbinger of a great stretch run the rest of the year.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:00 even. This was an extended look-see for the Lightning to diagnose what they have in a prospect, no doubt. I expect to see more of these types of cups of coffee the rest of the year with better ice time for young players to show their wares.

Gabriel Dumont had 2 hits and was 86% on 7 draws in 10:56.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

CHL Game Night: 1-24-17

Ontario Hockey League

Kitchener Rangers 0 @ Erie Otters 5

C Anthony Cirelli, Erie: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG, 7/17 FO
Season Totals: 32 GP, 13-25-38, +20, 8 PIM
With Erie: 7 GP, 0-5-5, +2, 0 PIM
With Oshawa: 26 GP, 13-21-34, +18, 8 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 62 GP, 21-38-59, -15 27 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 1-0-1, +3, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season Totals: 35 GP, 28-44-72, +45, 23 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 67 GP, 24-49-73, +19, 18 PIM

Taylor’s brother, Darren Raddysh (undrafted), had a goal and an assist to become Erie’s all-time leading scorer for a defenseman. Cirelli led the Otters in faceoffs taken with 17.

Western Hockey League

Kamloops Blazers 4 @ Portland Winterhawks 6

G Connor Ingram, KAM: No decision, nine saves on 13 shots
Season Totals: 28 GP, 17-9-1-0, 2.31 GAA, .929 sv%, 2 SO
2015-2016 Season: 61 GP, 34-15-5-4, 2.61 GAA, .922 sv%, 4 SO

Ingram allowed four goals on 13 shots in the first period before getting the hook. He escaped the loss as Kamloops ended up recovering - somewhat - fro a 4-0 deficit. The appearance made Ingram's GAA rise from 2.18 to 2.29 overnight.

NCAA Game Night: 1-24-17

No. 1 Boston University Terriers 1 @ Merrimack Warriors 3

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-0, -1, 4 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 21 GP, 0-4-4, +8, 20 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 26 GP, 1-1-2, -4, 26 PIM

New No. 1 BU promptly dropped a mid-week road game at Merrimack, 3-1. MacLeod was charged with hitting from behind and interference.

MHL Game Day: 1-23-17 and 1-24-17

1-23-17
CSKA Jr. 0 vs. Yaroslavl Jr. 2
Oleg Sosunov, Yaroslavl Jr., 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 29 GP, 0-0-0, E, 52 PIM

Ilya Konovalov turned aside all 38 shots he faced for the shutout in Loko Jr.'s 2-0 win over CSKA Jr. 18 year old defenseman Oleg Sosunov evened up his season plus-minus with a plus in the match.

1-24-17
CSKA Jr. 2 vs. Yaroslavl Jr. 3
Oleg Sosunov, Yaroslavl Jr., DNP
Season totals: 29 GP, 0-0-0, E, 52 PIM

2017 draft eligible Kirill Slepets scored a power play goal midway through the Third Period to lift Loko Jr. to a 3-2 victory over CSKA Jr.

Lightning Power Play Live: January 23, 2017

One of the highlights of my week is my Monday guest appearance on Greg Linnelli’s Lightning Power Play Live show on tblpowerplay.com.

Lightning Radio has provided us the audio file in case you missed it on Monday evening.

This week, Greg and I talk about what ails the Lightning, adjusting player upside projections, goaltending issues, signs of hope, and what’s going on in Syracuse and junior hockey.

Greg’s show airs each evening, and is one of the best shows out there for Lightning fans.

Enjoy:

Click here to listen

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