C'est une belle chose.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the victory. He's a hot mess to watch, but the pucks are hitting him, and the Lightning have the offense to consistently get him to the pay window.
MTL 5:22, Lapierre 1 (unassisted)
MTL 18:07, Plekanec 1 (Cammalleri, Spacek)
TB 1:44, Clark 1 (PP) (Purcell, Malone)
TB 10:54, St. Louis 1 (Stamkos, Jones)
MTL 11:25, Kostitsyn 1 (Plekanec, Gorges)
TB 18:41, Stamkos 3 (PP) (Lecavalier, Malone)
TB 4:09, Malone 1 (Moore)
Ryan Malone was named the game's first star. Shame on the Montreal media for showing such a lack of class to not give Lecavalier or Stamkos a star for the game tying goal. Shame on the Montreal fan base for booing like a bunch of Panthers fans (all three of them) and then throwing things on the ice when a Montreal defender fell down on the game tying goal. These are supposed to be some of the best fans in the NHL, and they acted the fool tonight. The hockey gods made sure to punish them on Malone's game winner.
The Lightning outshot the Habs 47 to 27. Teddy Purcell and Steven Stamkos each had 8 shots on goal to lead the way for Tampa Bay. Purcell's a part of the newly found depth the Lightning have, and Stamkos will be an MVP finalist if this keeps up. He has five points in the first two games and he's scoring big goals between the insurance marker against Atlanta and the tying goal tonight.
I'll keep saying it: I firmly believe Stamkos will win at least one Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay in the next five years, and he might easily win two. He's got something special in the dedication department, and it's something a guy like Ovechkin lacks and something I think he has even more of than Sid Crosby. In the end equation, I have a feeling #91 is why Steve Yzerman took the Lightning job. It's easier to be successful when you inherit a Richard Trophy winner who works harder than 99.9% of the rest of the players in the league. He's like James Brown without the cape and a better shot; the hardest working man in showbiz today, and he's only 20 years old. Part of me is sickened by the fact the NHL isn't the least bit interested in building their brand around Stamkos and would rather market a punk like Ovechkin. On the other hand, the idea of Stamkos being allowed to lay in the weeds of the distraction-free media environment of Tampa Bay and what he could be able to accomplish in it without the spotlight on him intrigues me. In a way, I prefer not having the kind of zoo Montreal has around them on Stamkos' back trying to divert his attention from the only thing that matters to him right now: winning.
I'm not ashamed to say I loved the way Brett Clark played tonight. He looks to be really well suited for this system. He made a play in the offensive zone in overtime that I didn't believe he was capable of making by splitting two defenders and almost setting up a winning goal on his own. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this Lightning defense looks once Ohlund gets back from the shelf.
Dana Tyrell had 2 penalty minutes in 5:33 of ice time. Dana, brother, if you want ice time you can't be taking minor penalties when Boucher finally lets you hop the boards.
Michael Vernace was -1 with 1 shot in 10:57.
I'll reiterate what I said in the first preseason game: so far so good.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the win. He'll never win style points for the way he tends goal, but as long as he keeps the pucks he should stop out of the net, this Lightning team should have enough offense to win hockey games for him.
TB 5:23, Downie 1 (PP) (Malone, Clark)
TB 8:21, Moore 1 (Purcell, Bergenheim)
TB 2:20, Lecavalier 1 (PP) (St. Louis, Stamkos)
TB 5:21, Stamkos 1 (Hedman, Downie)
ATL 16:31, Enstrom 1 (PP) (Bergfors, Ladd)
ATL 18:12, Eager 1 (unassisted)
ATL 7:41, Thorburn 1 (Sopel, Eager)
TB 10:59, Stamkos 2 (Jones)
Steven Stamkos, Steve Downie, and Vincent Lecavalier were the game's three stars. The NHL should be absolutely terrified of the concept of Stamkos and Lecavalier getting on track early this season. Also, reports of Steve Downie's demise in the post-Tocchet era appear to have been greatly, greatly exaggerated.
Going into the season, I think we all had a sense that the pride and professionalism were returning to Tampa Bay with the circus leaving town and Mr. Vinik coming in as owner. Tonight was the first time that sense translated into something tangible on the ice. The team is offensively explosive and looks deeper than at any time since, well, ever. How far they will go will ultimately be a function of the goaltending they will get, but if these netminders can make the stops they should make, this club should be in good shape.
The great thing about tonight's game, similar the the Admirals' game down on the farm, is that they can take a lot of offensive confidence away from the game but they made enough mistakes that Coach Boucher is going to be able to continue to keep on his club and keep them from complacency going into Wednesday's game against Montreal. And, you know, Coach Boucher has this Montreal game circled on the calendar and is not going to allow his team to go into his first game against his hometown team and in front of the Canadian media flat and overly impressed with themselves.
Dana Tyrell was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 8:44 in his NHL debut.
Michael Vernace had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:04 in his Lightning debut.
(Tampa Bay Lightning press release) The Tampa Bay Lightning reduced their training camp roster by four today, assigning forwards Chris Durno and Johan Harju, as well as goaltender Cedrick Desjardins to the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League and releasing forward Eric Perrin from his tryout, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced.
(BP Note: With this latest news, it's apparent prospect Dana Tyrell has made the Lightning roster for opening night. Congratulations, Dana!)
A business-like rout of an inferior team at home. Nice.
Mike Smith allowed just 1 goal on 21 shots. I feel like after two strong starts that Smitty has won the opening night starting job.
FLA 13:51, Santorelli 1 (Weaver, Allen)
TB 4:32, Lecavalier 1 (PP) (St. Louis)
TB 7:22, Stamkos 1 (Downie, St. Louis)
TB 9:20, Stamkos 2 (PP) (Lecavalier, Kubina)
TB 7:44, Bergenheim 1 (Perrin, Vernace)
Johan Harju was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 11:14.
Dana Tyrell had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:39.
Michael Vernace had an assist and was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 15:12.
Yeah, we at BoltProspects always liked Magnus Paajarvi in his draft year.
Dan Ellis allowed 5 goals on 21 shots for the loss. Ugly stat line.
TB 4:33, Jones 1 (Purcell, Persson)
EDM 15:09, Paajarvi 1 (Belle, Plante)
EDM 18:34, Cogliano 1 (PP) (Foster, Paajarvi)
EDM 6:50, Paajarvi 2 (PP) (Penner, Plante)
EDM 7:57, Hall 1 (PP) (unassisted)
EDM 9:52, Paajarvi 3 (SH) (Foster)
TB 17:19, Ashton 1 (PP) (Wright, Clark)
Not an entirely surprising outcome, I suppose, considering Edmonton had most of its regular skaters going against the Lightning's lower liners, AHLers, and prospects. The only thing really concerning is to allow 5 goals on 21 shots in that scenario. Still, I wouldn't read much into tonight unless they get blown out in Calgary against the Fighting Feasters on Saturday with most of the regulars in.
Carter Ashton had 1 goal and was +1 with 1 shot and a slashing minor in 13:26. I'm of the opinion it would behoove the Lightning to, at the very least, use the 9 game tryout on Ashton. If he can stick on the team and develop over the course of the year, he could give the Lightning a lot of roster flexibility in February.
Brett Connolly was even with 1 shot in 12:13. I think he'll get a contract and then be ushered away to Prince George fairly soon.
Radko Gudas was even with 1 shot in 13:51. I doubt he makes it past the first round of cuts. He needs to get stronger and he needs some seasoning in Norfolk.
Johan Harju was -1 with 1 shot in 13:20. He got more ice time than the 9:30 Linus Omark got for the Oilers. I expect him to be on the bubble another week.
Blair Jones was -1 in 12:53. He could not duplicate what he did against the Hawks, which is the story of Blair's pro career. Probably on the bubble another week.
Vladimir Mihalik was -1 with 1 shot and a hooking minor in 16:43. He might survive the first round of cuts, but I doubt he survives the second.
Niklas Persson had 1 assist and was +1 with 2 shots in 16:09. Niklas seems to be on track to make the team. In fact, he might be the first of the bubble guys to move into the safe column.
Dana Tyrell was even with 2 shots in 14:02. He'll stay on the bubble another week, I think.
Michael Vernace was -1 with 1 shot in 22:02. He got a ton of ice time given Boucher's familiarity with him, but he was awful, by all accounts.
Box score from Yahoo! Sports.
So far so good.
Dan Ellis stopped 17 of 19 shots for the win.
TB 4:44, Hall 1 (Tyrell, Thompson)
TB 6:31, Moore 1 (Malone, Jackson)
DAL 1:19, Gagnon 1 (Vincour, Sutherby)
TB 3:39, Hall 2 (Tyrell, Jackson)
DAL 7:17, Larsen 1 (Vincour, Gagnon)
TB 10:55, Ohlund 1 (Purcell, Harju)
Nicklas Persson was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 14:35.
Johan Harju had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 15:24.
Tyrell had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:04.
Michael Vernace was even with 2 hits in 24:41.
Scott Jackson had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 hits and a fighting major in 16:27.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 15:27.
Panik wakes up from his game one slumber.
Jarsolav Janus stopped 40 of 43 shots in regulation and overtime before stopping 14 of 16 shooters in the marathon penalty shot session for the win.
TB - Panik (Wright, Zahn) 4:23
DET - Coetzee (Tatar) 5:56
TB - Tyrell (Marks) 3:09
TB - Wright (Connolly) 7:26
DET - Tatar (PP) (Macek, Ferraro) 2:46
DET - Parkes (Raedeke) 3:27
TB - Panik, Panik, Butcher
DET - Smith, Ferraro
Richard Panik had a goal and scored two of the Lightning's three goals in the shootout. The Lightning's unlikely hero was tournament tryout and former Canucks draft pick Matt Butcher. Dana Tyrell also emerged to score his first goal of the tournament.
The Lightning will face Dallas' prospects in the final game of the round robin phase. They may end up facing 2010 first round pick Jack Campbell in the process, with the stakes being a spot in the knock-out round.
Box score from Pointstreak.
The Lightning have assembled a preliminary roster for the upcoming prospects camp July 10-14 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The following roster, courtesy of Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, includes at least three goaltenders, 12 defensemen and 17 forwards. All 2010 draft choices will be participating.
At just barely 20 years old, Steven Stamkos has won a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's best goal scorer. Atta boy, young man.
Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 31 shots for the victory. Smitty got his save percentage up to an even .900 with the performance. That's something positive to build on, I suppose.
FLA 2:06, Olesz 14 (Dvorak, Matthias)
TB 8:01, Tanguay 10 (Bochenski, Lundin)
TB 10:20, Lecavalier 24 (Tanguay, Malone)
TB 19:47, Stamkos 51 (Lecavalier)(EN)
Congratulations to young Steven Stamkos, whose empty net goal put him for 51 for the season, tying him with Sidney Crosby for the league's best mark and a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy. Stammer will be the Lightning's second Richard Trophy winner, after Vincent Lecavalier won it with 52 goals in 2006-2007. When one considers that Stamkos just turned 20 in February, it has to be considered nothing less than a remarkable achievement for the young man. Steven Stamkos may be the answer to the question of what a guy like Ilya Kovalchuk, with his finishing ability, could have been without the cancerous selfishness. I said it when he entered the league: Stammer had the best shot of any 18 year old I'd seen enter the league since Kovalchuk. The difference is that Stamkos has dedicated himself to becoming a complete hockey player from his off ice conditioning and preparation to his willingness to backcheck and play the game the right way in all three zones. Mark my words: Steven Stamkos will win a championship in Tampa Bay; probably two or three when all is said and done. He's just scratching the surface of his talent. As time goes on, he's going to become as big a threat at even strength as he is on the power play, and his playmaking skills will catch up with his goal scoring ability. He's too hard of a worker not to continue to elevate his game.
That probably terrifies the NHL league establishment. Stamkos is the inconvenient truth of the NHL. After spending the past few seasons hyping Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the second coming of Gretzky and Lemieux, the idea of Stamkos in small market Tampa Bay becoming a better scorer than those two has to be terrifying the league offices. Too bad, Toronto.
And, for anyone trying to put an asterisk on Stamkos' achievement because he had three empty net goals, including the Trophy clincher, or because he played more games than Crosby or Ovechkin, or because he was fresher for not playing in the Olympics, or whatever: (how do I put this delicately?) you're an idiot. Seriously. Anyone who tries to argue Stamkos' achievement is somehow less impressive than what Crosby did is a moron, and should probably leave broadcasting or journalism right now. Hand in your microphone or laptop. Give back your press pass.
Did he have a league leading 24 power play goals (which, last I checked, still count on the scoreboard)? Sure. Did every team in the league that played the Lightning know Stamkos was the number one option? Yep. Could they stop him anyway? Nope. No one ever griped seriously about Kareem Abdul-Jabar's skyhook in the NBA. No one can gripe seriously about Stamkos' power play goals from the high slot or left wing circle. The fact is, Steven and the Lightning have found something that is undefendable unless you're willing to give up a 2-on-1 down low or a 105 mph bomb from the center point. And only Steven has the kind of finishing ability to make that play so incredibly effective.
Did he have 3 empty net goals while Crosby only had 1? Sure. But, how many 19-20 year olds do you know who a coach trusts to put on the ice in the last minute of a 1 goal game? Seriously? And, the reason he had 3 empty net goals is because Stamkos has blazing speed that eclipses even Crosby and possibly even Ovechkin. Stamkos' acceleration is the stuff of legend. If Crosby had it, I dare say he'd have more empty net goals too, but he doesn't. Give Stammer credit for the fact he does.
Did he play more games than Crosby and Ovechkin? Sure. But he also went through a grueling offseason program with Gary Roberts to make sure he was fit enough to avoid injuries. And when the scrapes did come, Stammer played through the pain. He also wasn't running around acting the fool like Ovechkin to get himself suspended, either. So, again, you're going to tell me that Stammer doesn't deserve credit for preparing properly, playing through pain when needed, and staying out of Colin Campbell's doghouse? Please. That's dumb.
Finally, there's the not-so-small matter of the fact that Stamkos plays on the 6th worst team on the league. Not the best team in the East (Ovechkin). Not the defending Stanley Cup Champions (Crosby). Mind you, Stammer doesn't play with awful teammates. Lecavalier, St. Louis, Downie, and Foster are good players, but are the Lightning's best players better than the Pens and Caps? Are they better than Malkin or Semin or Backstrom? Are the Lightning as deep as the Pens or Caps? Obviously not. Put it another way: if you put Stamkos on the Caps or Pens, how many goals would he have scored? Put me down for 60.
Also, congratulation to Zenon Konopka for winning the NHL's penalty minute crown with 265 penalty minutes. I will admit, I was opposed to carrying Konopka on the roster at first. He's become my guilty pleasure when watching a Lightning game, though, and I believe the Lightning should work hard to re-sign him this offseason. Amazingly, despite the large number of PIMs he had, I'm hard pressed to think of a time Konopka did something stupid and undisciplined to hurt the team. He scrapped at the appropriate times and unlike the preseason when he was getting his brains beat in pretty regularly, he held his own in all but one or two of the fights he was in. The fact he was also 62% on draws for the year and is great in the room makes him a valuable weapon for the Lightning that they need to lock up.
The Lightning will finish with the 6th worst record in the NHL. That means the Lightning will pick 2nd, 6th, or 7th this June. The 6th pick is by far the most statistically probable. If things go according to speculation, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, in some order, will go 1st and 2nd. If the Panthers and Isles were to stay in the 3rd and 5th positions, I would expect them to draft d-men like Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley, or Erik Gudbrandson. Columbus may be more of a wild card at 4th. That'll put the Lightning in an interesting spot. If the big righty shot d-man Gudranson is there, he might make a lot of sense for the club, but they could be tempted by some of the intriguing wingers available like Brett Connolly, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, or Vladimir Tarasenko. The team will be in a good spot to continue to build on the impressive core it has with the likes of Stamkos, Downie, and Hedman.
We'll let this season digest a little for the next couple of days before I write more. I will say this, though: sign Mike Lundin. Do it.
Scott Jackson had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 13:44 in his NHL debut. Congratulations to him. The promotion was well deserved. I kind of expected Dana Tyrell to get a reward recall instead, but Jackson is every bit as deserving. In a way, I could see him evolving into a little bigger version of ex-Lightning d-man Nolan Pratt.
With their boots on and their heads held high...
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 26 shots for the win. He finishes his rookie campaign with a 27-25-3 mark, 4 shutouts, a 2.51 GAA, and a .915 sv%. That's a very respectable starting point for a young career.
HER Bouchard, (21) (Perreault, Bourque), 8:43
NOR Fornataro, (11) (Dehner), 13:11
NOR Szczechura, (8) (Parrish, Craig), 2:36 (PP)
HER Giroux, (50) (Aucoin, Bourque), 15:43 (PP)
NOR Simek, (20) (Jones, Mihalik), 1:49
NOR Simek, (21) (Hall, Jackson), 5:41
NOR Hall, (16) , 19:51 (EN/SH)
Unfortunately, there will be no postseason for the Admirals as both Lowell and Bridgeport won tonight, meaning the crossover rule will go in effect. The propriety of the crossover rule is dubious at best considering the unbalanced schedules that are played, which meant Norfolk had to play world beaters Hershey 10 times while clubs like Bridgeport and Lowell got to feast off the worst team in the league, Springfield. Still, it is what it is, and Norfolk will cede its playoff spot to the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division. Norfolk finishes the regular season with 84 points (39-35-3-3).
In the short term, I suspect there might be a recall or two for tomorrow's Lightning season finale in Sunrise against the Panthers. Specifically, I feel like Dana Tyrell deserves a reward for his hard work, and the Lightning may want to take a look at Carter Ashton, who has spent his time on Norfolk's second line since Mark Parrish and Paul Szczechura were sent back down to Norfolk.
In the long term, this offseason will be a challenging one for the Admirals. The Lightning have a lot of decisions to make with veteran players like Ryan Craig and Adam Hall and 3rd and 4th year pros like Blair Jones, Simek, and Vladimir Mihalik. The only knowns I think Admirals fans can count on for next season are that the team will probably be younger and the team will probably still have fantastic goaltending between Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus, who actually has been practicing with the team this week and might've been ready to come back had the Admirals made the post season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.