Waiting for this team to mature is painful sometimes.
Karri Ramo allowed 5 goals on 39 shots for the overtime loss. Really, it was a tale of two games for Karri. He was playing very well through the first 32 minutes or so of the game, and then he made an incredibly stupid decision to throw his stick that resulted in a penalty shot and the wheels started to fall off a little. About two minutes later Karri, who I think was a little rattled and out of focus, didn't come out and challenge a shot from a rush coming down the wing and got beat glove side and suddenly the Lightning went from being solidly in control to being in a dog fight. The lesson is an important one: in regular season hockey, one mistake generally doesn't kill you. It's when you allow yourself to lose focus and things start to snowball that you lose hockey games. Karri was screened on New Jersey's third goal and hung out to dry on a bad line change on the game winner. He might want the rebound back on Jersey's fourth goal, but that wasn't egregious to me. But it was that one lull in focus that probably cost the Lightning a second point. Tonight was Karri's 40th NHL decision, so he will graduate from BP prospect status with his next one, but there's still much for the 22 year old to learn.
01:38 TB Artyukhin (6), (Melichar)
05:09 TB Stamkos (21), (St. Louis, Lashoff)(PP)
13:05 NJ Shanahan (6), (unassisted)(PS)
14:50 NJ Pandolfo (5), (Langenbrunner, Oduya)
18:29 NJ Langenbrunner (26), (Rolston, Parise)(PP)
02:41 TB Malone (26), (unassisted)
10:35 NJ Langenbrunner (27), (Zajac, Parise)
14:06 TB Karsums (1), (Pettinger, Krajicek)
01:21 NJ Parise (43), (Zajac, Martin)
It wasn't exactly a banner night in the goaltending or the defensive department, but there were some positives to point to up front. Steven Stamkos tied Brad Richards' Lightning rookie record for goals at 21. That record's good as gone.
Ryan Malone scored his 26th of the season, which is pretty remarkable considering how lost he looked with injuries early in the year. I confess, I wasn't a big proponent of the Malone deal in the offseason, because he didn't have a proven track record that merited handing him that much money. Well, now he's got a track record. He's one goal shy of matching last year's 27 goals and one would think with some health and some stability behind the bench, 30-35 goals should be within his reach next year. People have been comparing Ryan to Fredrik Modin, and I don't think the comparison is really that apt. Freddy was better along the wall and was far more of a sniper. Ryan isn't as good as he could be along the wall at his size and is more of a garbage man, although he has surprisingly good hands in open ice as evidence by his de-jocking on Brodeur on the breakaway tonight. In some ways, he's kind of the answer to the question, "What if Dave Andreychuk could skate?"
Noah Welch was +2 with 3 hits in 19:44. I can't believe I just typed that either.
Matt Smaby was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 26:00. One of those minuses came on that bad change in overtime. Smaby is now 2 games away from graduation here at BP. Considering Tocchet's been rotating Ramo and McKenna, that means there may be a double graduation coming up Tuesday against the Penguins.
David Koci was +1 with 5 hits in 8:47.
Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 blocked shot and was 38% on draws in 14:33. I thought he came out flying in the first period, but faded as the game went on. Maybe it was conditioning?
Martins Karsums can say he scored his first NHL goal on Martin Brodeur. How cool is that? He had 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:54. He also picked off a pass in the neutral zone and nearly generated a nice scoring chance for himself earlier in the game. He was better tonight than most every game thus far in a Lightning jersey.
Matt Lashoff dispenses PP assists like a Pez dispenser. He also had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in a team high 27:40 tonight. He's got 7 assists in 9 games in a Lightning uniform. There ain't nothing wrong with that kind of production.
Desperate Phantoms claw the second point away from Norfolk.
Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 37 shots for the OT loss.
PHI Ratchuk, (4) (Clackson, Raduns), 15:37
NOR Konopka, (17) (Kinrade, Simek), 1:02
NOR Quick, (1) (Swanson, Kinrade), 2:58
PHI Sirianni, (11) (Kane, Syvret), 4:06
PHI Ross, (29) (Bartulis), 1:37
Kevin Quick, who scored his first career AHL goal, was named the game's second star.
Forward Brandon Buck was signed today to an ATO and was scoreless and shotless in his debut.
The point gained by Norfolk, coupled with an Albany loss, moved the Admirals into a tie with the River Rats at 69 points, with 5 games left for both teams in the season. Albany currently holds the tiebreak by having one more regulation win than the Admirals. Still a lot to play for.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
No quit in Norfolk.
Craig Kowalski allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the win.
HER Bourque, (21) (Giroux, Kronwall), 0:51
NOR Jones, (18) (Konopka, Lundin), 14:55 (PP)
NOR Smolenak, (22) (Wishart, Segal), 16:36
NOR Swanson, (1) (Wishart, Konopka), 10:48
HER Giroux, (55) (Bourque, Kronwall), 1:01
ATO forward John Swanson, who was signed today out of St. Cloud State, potted the game winning goal in his first pro game and was named third star. Well played. Kowalski was the game's first star.
Radek Smolenak potted his 22nd goal of the season while Blair Jones inched closer to the 20 goal plateau by lighting the lamp for the 18th time this year. There are still questions about Jones' intensity, no doubt, but 20 goals has to make you stand up and take notice.
Ty Wishart returned to the ice for the first time in about three weeks and hit the scoresheet for helpers in duplicate for the first multi-point game of his pro career.
It kind of snuck up on me: but Mike Lundin has 26 points now in Norfolk. He has a very real opportunity to hit 30 points in about 50 AHL games with the Admirals. I know Darren Rumble really likes Lundin, but the question remains about how well he fits with what Rick Tocchet is trying to do in Tampa Bay. There's no doubt in my mind, though, that his time in the AHL this year has been beneficial to his development and some NHL team is going to reap the rewards next season with a better player.
Norfolk's win, its 30th of the season, and Albany's loss inches the Admirals within 1 point of climbing out of the division basement with 6 games to go in the season. The Admirals also improved to 20-14-4 on home ice with the victory. Norfolk's final two home games of the season are this weekend, meaning the worst the Admirals could finish on their home rink is 4 games over .500. However incremental it may be, there is progress in Norfolk, VA.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
N.A. Juniors Playoff Game Night: 3/31
Courtnall has a full month of practices ahead of him.
BCHL Playoffs â€“ Coastal Conference Finals
Powell River Kings 4 @ Victoria Grizzlies 1
Powell River wins Best of 7 series 4-3
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 0-0-0, 4 PIM (slashing, roughing)
Playoff totals: 14 GP, 2-4-6, 24 PIM
Season totals: 60 GP, 22-41-63, 98 PIM
Top-seeded Victoria, owned by Lightning co-owner Len Barrie, will not be advancing to the BCHL championship series. Despite coming back from a 3-1 series deficit, the Grizzlies lost on their home ice 4-1 in Game 7, ending the BCHL playoffs - but not career - of Lightning prospect Justin Courtnall. The former 7th rounder was second on the team in scoring during the regular season, but had a hard time finding the scoresheet during the playoffs for the second straight year.
The Lightning's forecheck officially belongs on a milk carton.
Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 39 shots in the loss. He rebounded from a couple of puck handling errors and was otherwise very solid. The Lightning have a tough decision to make with McKenna. Ordinarily, you would want a veteran #3 goaltender like McKenna in your organization. But, it will be very tough for the Lightning to send Riku Helenius or Dustin Tokarski down to the Coast if they do re-sign McKenna.
14:03 BOS Wheeler (20), (Savard)
06:56 BOS Chara (17), (Bergeron, Krejci)(PP)
13:35 BOS Kobasew (20), (Chara, Krejci)(PP)
12:07 TB Stamkos (20), (Malone, Lashoff)
Other than Stammer's 20th of the season tonight, there's not a whole lot to be excited about from the past couple of games.
Noah Welch had 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 11:34.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 hits in 20:30. Good to have the big guy back. I thought he moved pretty well tonight after sitting out the game against Ottawa.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 10:55.
Richard Petiot was +1 with 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 5 hits in 19:42.
Matt Lashoff had 1 assist and was +1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 21:41. There were one or two plays tonight where Lashoff made plays that are hopefully indicative of the way his game is going to evolve next season: playing the proper angle defensively and then cancelling out the opposing forward physically. I'm just guessing he had a little extra juice playing against his old organization, but if he can do that consistently, he's going to be a stud defenseman in this league. The offense is there (6 assists in 8 games so far with the Lightning). If his defensive game rounds out, he's going to be every bit as good as Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros.