Helenius, Riku

AHL Game Day 2/8: Admirals at Penguins

Norfolk limps into town, takes a whipping, and limps back out.

NOR-0
WBS-5

Riku Helenius allowed 4 goals on 35 shots before being pulled in the third period for Tyler Sims, who allowed 1 goal on 6 shots the rest of the way.

First Period
WBS Jeffrey, (6) (D'Aversa, Letestu), 16:56 (PP)
WBS Daoust, (7) (Taffe), 17:11

Second Period
WBS Daoust, (8) (Taffe, Goligoski), 10:14
WBS Letestu, (14) (Pesonen), 11:23

Third Period
WBS Pesonen, (15) (Letestu), 15:24

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night 2/7: Sound Tigers at Admirals

When this season is over, the Ads are going to look back at games like this where they had leads in the third period and left points on the table... and kick themselves.

BRI-3
NOR-2

Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 28 shots in the loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NOR Lundin, (3) (Bochenski, Konopka), 4:46 (PP)
NOR Keller, (8) (Bochenski, Jackson), 6:18
BRI Iggulden, (19) (Walter, Smith), 16:25

Third Period
BRI Colliton, (4) (MacDonald), 11:43
BRI Joensuu, (14) (Smith, Kohn), 19:03

Justin Keller was named the game's second star.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night 2/6: Sound Tigers at Admirals

Wow. Atta boy, Riku!

BRI-0
NOR-3

Riku Helenius pitches a 41 save shutout in his first career AHL start. A star is born?

First Period
NOR Bochenski, (17) (Konopka, Keller), 11:31

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NOR Bochenski, (18) (Smolenak, Lundin), 4:43
NOR Segal, (13) (Smolenak, Gratton), 15:38

Wow. This is where Karri Ramo needs to start feeling the heat coming up his back. Everyone's known for the past 2-1/2 years that Helenius is athletically capable, and the bizarre reshuffling and suspension situation has given Helenius an opportunity to finally get in between the pipes. And, damn-it-all if he hasn't seized the opportunity by the throat in his first start. Wow.

Wow!

Don't look now, but Vladimir Mihalik just got back to even for the season with a +3 night tonight. His play has picked up since the embarassment of the San Jose Sharks game.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Goalie-Go-Round

As the Super Bowl party leaves Tampa Bay on Monday, the goaltending situation for the Bolts is almost as suspenseful as last night's 4th quarter. Both the Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times are reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have (unofficially) signed Norfolk Admirals netminder Mike McKenna to an NHL contract in the aftermath of successful biceps tendon surgery to Olaf Kolzig on Saturday. Kolzig is expected to miss the remainder of the season rehabbing his repaired left arm. During the intermission of Friday night's game against Philadelphia, Lightning GM Brian Lawton hinted that McKenna was one of the alternatives being considered for the backup role to Mike Smith for the balance of the season. McKenna practiced with the team Monday morning ahead of flying out with the team to Long Island for Tuesday night's tilt against the struggling Islanders.

McKenna's signing triggered the reassignment of prospect goaltender Riku Helenius to Norfolk, presumably to start the remaining four games of fellow prospect goalie Karri Ramo's suspension. Ramo is currently serving a six game AHL suspension for leaving the bench during a late game on-ice altercation last week. In the interim, Admirals signed goaltender Tyler Sims to a PTO late last week to serve as the team's backup goaltender while Ramo serves out his suspension.

However, in surprising turn of events, both Tampa papers broke the news today that Mike Smith would not make the trip to New York with the team, citing an upper body injury to the Lightning's No.1 goalie, along with news that Ramo was being recalled from Norfolk on an emergency basis. It is unlikely that the recall will delay the completion of Ramo's suspension as the Admirals do not play again until Friday, and there's been no definitive word on whether McKenna or Ramo will start against the Islanders. Lawton, in a quote from the St. Pete Times, indicated that Smith's injury is fairly minor and he may join the team Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

NHL Game Night 1/30: Flyers at Lightning

The NHL league office is a mockery.

PHI-6
TB-1

Mike Smith allowed 6 goals on 30 shots for the loss before giving way to Riku Helenius who made his NHL debut and stopped the only 2 shots he faced.

First Period
07:03 PHI Richards (17), (Knuble, Gagne)
17:55 TB Prospal (13), (Ranger)(PP)

Second Period
08:05 PHI Jones (2), (Richards, Carle)(PP)
14:41 PHI Richards (18), (Lupul, Jones)

Third Period
07:59 PHI Carter (31), (Hartnell, Timonen)
10:47 PHI Hartnell (18), (Vaananen, Niittymaki)
13:08 PHI Carter (32), (unassisted)

What do you do when the league won't even allow you to compete? What do you do when you know that any borderline call and Toronto will go get on the phone and rule against you? I am amazed the NHL still hasn't gotten egg all over their face yet for the obvious bias and conflict of interest their decision a few seasons ago to move video replay to a "war room" in Toronto, and the subsequent effect it's had on the objectivity of the video officiating. It's been, what, four seasons now? And, the next borderline call that goes the Lightning's way will be the first. Two nights. Three video goal reviews. Every single damned one of them went against the Lightning.

In the first period, Mark Recchi may have kicked a puck in front of him which he whacked at and touched before it crossed the goal line. It wasn't obvious on video but the audio very clearly registered the sound of Recchi's stick hitting the puck. The goal was called good on the ice by the referee, but the decision was overturned by Toronto, despite a lack of conclusive evidence. In the third period Steven Stamkos batted a puck in on a rebound off Philly's goaltender Antero Nittymaki. The goal was immediately disallowed on the ice as batted in by a stick above the crossbar. This time? Toronto hides behind a lack of conclusive evidence and upholds what the referee's original call was. Same game. Same refs. Same video goal "war room." And the exact opposite calls. The other constant? Both were goals that would've been huge for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Waved off. And, every single person who has followed the Lightning in the past four seasons knew what the outcome of the review would be long before the ref hung up the phone. I mean, hell, 6'9" Zdeno Chara could whack a puck in with a high stick at his eye level three seasons ago and it counted in Toronto's eyes because it was against the Lightning, but 6'1" Steven Stamkos, standing legs apart lower to the ice for balance, bats a puck in at around shoulder height and it's "inconclusive." It's become a joke. They might as well name Vince McMahon the NHL's comissioner at this point.

Steve Downie had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 3 hits in 11:25. He would've had a helper had Stamkos' goal counted, but that was before Toronto got involved.

Matt Smaby had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:45. It's striking how comfortable he has looked in these past two games. Have I mentioned I think this league is a joke?

David Koci got in a fight and had 1 blocked shot in 4:08. I wish he'd go to Toronto and slug every biased nitwit manning the "war room."

Now, don't get me wrong. There's no telling how the game might've turned out had either of the goals counted. Antero Nittymaki played a great game, stopping breakaways by Jeff Halpern and Marty St. Louis and a subsequent penalty shot by Marty St. Louis. There's no guarantee a 2-1 Lightning lead would've led to a Lightning victory or that the Lightning cutting a third period deficit to 3-2 would've led to a Lightning comeback. The point is, the league did not even allow the Lightning to compete in this game. They didn't allow the Lightning to have a chance. There was only one outcome possible to this game thanks to Toronto, and that was a victory by Philadelphia. And, that's a farce.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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