No Lashoff? No Parrish? No problem.
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win. He's now 5-6-1 on the season with 1 shutout, a 2.01 GAA, and a rock solid .925 sv%. He's actually got better numbers than Tokarski.
LOW Palmieri, (18) (Vasyunov, Walter), 12:48
NOR Fornataro, (7) (Craig, Fadden), 17:33
NOR Simek, (15) (Szczechura), 12:16
NOR Craig, (15) (Tyrell, Szczechura), 17:25
NOR Craig, (16) (Fadden, Wishart), 18:39 (PP)
NOR Mihalik, (1) (Tyrell, Hall), 16:01
Ryan Craig, Paul Szczechura, and Vladimir Mihalik were the game's three stars. It was another banner night for the Presov Mafia between Janus' win, and both Juraj Simek, and Mihalik's goals. Mihalik's marker was his first of the season, and with a +3 night he jumped to +1 for the season.
Lowell got former Lightning d-man Cory Murphy back for this game, so they dressed 5 natural defensemen for this game rather than the 4 from last night, but it didn't matter. Even with Matt Lashoff out for a second straight game attending to family matters and Mark Parrish held out, presumably for a recall to the Lightning, the Admirals still dominated the Devils.
Norfolk remains in 3rd place in the East Division, 4 points behind 2nd place Albany, which dismantled Binghamton 7-0 tonight. Albany holds 1 game in hand. They widened their lead on 4th place Adirondack to 6 points after the Phantoms fell to Portland 5-4. Adirondack has 3 games in hand. They are now tied at 52 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after the Penguins upset Hershey 5-0 tonight. So the Pens are 6 points back of Norfolk with 2 games in hand. In 6th place is Syracuse, which lost 2-0 tonight to Manchester. They're 8 points behind Norfolk with 2 games in hand. All the way in 7th place in Bighamton, which is now 11 points back of Norfolk with 5 games in hand.
Norfolk's win moves them 1 point ahead of the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division, so the Admirals are starting to take the crossover off the table. Even if they finish 3rd in the East Division, finishing ahead of the crossover 5th place Atlantic team is critical for the Admirals if they want to avoid a date with Hershey in the first round of the playoffs. 5th in the Atlantic is now a 3-way logjam with Providence, Hartford, and Bridgeport all at 57 points. Providence knocked off Springfield 3-1 tonight and Bridgeport beat Hartford 6-4 to create the three team pile-up. Both Providence and Hartford have 1 game in hand on Norfolk.
Norfolk's next game is on Monday, which will be an epic clash in Albany against the River Rats. An Admirals win could pull the team to within 2 points of 2nd place in the East Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Jaroslav Janus stopped all 24 shots he faced tonight for his first shutout as a professional. He didn't have to face a ton of quality chances, but he got himself in front of the ones Lowell did have. His athleticism is outstanding, and if his positioning ever catches up, he'll be an NHLer.
NOR Parrish, (13) (Fornataro, Fadden), 11:58
NOR Simek, (14) (Keller, Mihalik), 17:40 (PP)
NOR Tyrell, (3) (Tarkir), 17:37 (SH)
Janus, Dana Tyrell, and Mark Parrish were the game's three stars. It was a big night for the Presov Mafia all around between Janus' shutout, Juraj Simek having a power play goal, and big Vladimir Mihalik getting his 10th point of the season. All three players were born in Presov, Slovakia, and all three played well tonight.
For my money, Tyrell was the best player on the ice tonight, though. He's starting to exhibit a level of hockey sense in how to use his speed that I've never seen in his career, and it's got to have the Lightning salivating. He's so quick and his acceleration is so outstanding, defensemen are terrified of him. He's starting to use that to his advantage and curling when he gets into the zone to buy an extra 2-3 feet of ice, or slowing up a step to also buy him some space, and it gives him the chance to make the pass or shoot. It's a lot like how Martin St. Louis uses his speed, and Tyrell's shorthanded goal was a prime example of it. He barrelled into the zone on a 2-on-2, started to slow up as an Admirals trailer was jumping into the zone, and just allowed the traffic to flow by the net before blistering a top corner shot for the goal. Buy stock in Tyrell now while it's still undervalued. You'll make your money back five fold. On a related note, Mitch Fadden is an absolute magician with the puck when he has time and space. He's fun to watch when he's running the power play from the right wing half board.
Norfolk outshot Lowell 41-24 in the game, and it seemed like they played 3/4 of the night in the Devils' zone. In fairness, Lowell only dressed 4 natural defensemen tonight due to injuries and call ups. Norfolk gets Lowell again tomorrow night, and considering the way the blueliners on Lowell's tongues were wagging from fatigue, it's a prime chance for Norfolk to get back-to-back wins in two nights against the same opponent, which is difficult to do.
From a standings standpoint, it was a nearly perfect night for the Admirals. In the East Division, 2nd place Albany fell to Hershey, so the Admirals now close to within 4 points of second place with the River Rats having 1 game in hand. 3rd place Norfolk extended its lead over 4th place Adirondack, which was idle, to 4 points with the Phantoms holding 3 games in hand. They also extended their lead over 5th place Syracuse to 6 points after Syracuse was defeated by Portland. Syracuse holds 2 games in hand over Norfolk, and fell into a tie at 50 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which defeated Binghamton tonight in a shootout. The Pens hold two games in hand on the Admirals. The Admirals extended their lead over 7th place Binghamton to 9 points in the process, but the Sens hold 5 games in hand.
In the crossover, Providence blew out the Atlantic Division's 5th place team, Hartford, pulling the Admirals to within 1 point of the Wolf Pack with Hartford holding 1 game in hand. As readers of this blog are probably sick of hearing at this point, if the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division finishes ahead of the 4th place team in the East Division, they will still go to the playoffs, so it's important for the Admirals to not only take care of business in their division. They also need to try to make sure they outpace 5th place in the Atlantic to maximize their playoff chances. Bridgeport and Providence are tied for 6th in the Atlantic with 55 points, 1 point behind Norfolk with the Bruins having 1 game in hand on the Ads.
Norfolk has 15 home games remaining on the schedule and 11 on the road. They've pulled to 2 games under .500 at The Scope and they're 4 games over .500 away from home. Point being: if the Admirals can keep improving on their Division-worst home mark, they'll be in fantastic shape.
Jim Johnson is 9-1-1-1 in his first dozen games as Head Coach. Instant gratification.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Love that headline on the press release from the Admirals. Move over Iverson.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 22 of 23 to get a win the Admirals absolutely needed to have.
ADK Kolanos, (4) (Dingle, Bellamy), 3:42
NOR Smolenak, (3) (Lundin, Mihalik), 17:47
NOR Craig, (9) (Smolenak, Jackson), 1:32
Ryan Craig (aka The Answer) and Radek Smolenak were the game's first and second stars. That's what you have to love about this year's version of the Admirals: sweet, sweet depth up front. Blair Jones has been hot as a firecracker and earned his callup. Last season that would've crushed the Ads. This season you've got a 20 goal, 50 point capable guy like Smolenak just waiting to pick up where Jones left off.
Vladimir Mihalik snapped a five-game pointless streak with a helper and pulled himself back to even in plus-minus for the season. Kudos to Scott Jackson for keying Craig and Smolenak's winning 2-on-1 in overtime. Jackson's posted a very respectable +8 rating so far this year.
Norfolk outshot Adirondack 36-23 in the game. I'm still waiting for when these shot imbalances are going to turn into some nice blowouts in the Admirals' favor rather than these nail biters. Norfolk's played so many close games this year. Norfolk can get back to .500 tomorrow night, but they'll have to do it in Hershey, which may be the toughest place in the AHL to go win a hockey game as a visitor.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk came out ready to kick butt tonight.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win. Slick Rik is now 3-1-0 on the season with a 1.51 GAA and .937 sv%. That's stylish. I wish the Lightning brass gave him a little more love publicly.
NOR Bochenski, (9) (Simek, Jones), 2:06
NOR Wishart, (1) (Bochenski, Simek), 3:20 (PP)
NOR Lundin, (2) (Karsums, Hall), 19:14
NOR Jones, (3) (Bochenski, Jackson), 5:26
BNG Hamel, (3) (Keller, Karlsson), 7:38
NOR Bochenski, (10) (Jones, Mihalik), 8:05
BNG Daugavins, (3) (Hennessy, Condra), 8:47
Brandon Bochenski, Blair Jones, and Ty Wishart were the game's three stars. Bochenski's 4 point night moves him over a point a game for the season with 16 in 15 games. He's currently 9th in the league in scoring. Jones has had two three point games in his last three contests, helping fill the void left when Ryan Craig was called up.
Mike Lundin is on pace for a 48 point season. He's tied for 11th in the league in scoring for defensemen, as of this writing. I would consider he and Bochenski to be very strong candidates to be AHL All-Stars if they stay on schedule.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Finally, the Admirals start to put it all together.
Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 16 shots for the win.
NOR Bochenski, (5) (Smolenak, Lundin), 2:44 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (6) (Szczechura, Jackson), 5:48
NOR Szczechura, (2) (Bochenski, Smolenak), 3:39
NOR Craig, (5) (Mihalik, Lundin), 7:59
POR Byron, (2) (Mancari, Generous), 9:02
POR Ennis, (5) , 11:52
There was a lot of talk about learning how to finish games coming off a road trip where Norfolk squandered leads in two of three games. Although the Admirals allowed the Pirates to cut a 4-0 lead in half in the second period, they shut the door completely in the third, allowing the Pirates just 6 shots in the final frame.
Who are you and what have you done with Vladimir Mihalik? Mihalik protected one of his teammates in the first period after a big hit by dropping the mitts, earning an instigator misconduct in the process. He then returned to the game and added a helper on Ryan Craig's goal to go with his 17 penalty minutes. New season, new Vladdy.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
All bad things must come to an end.
Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 15 shots for the loss before giving way to Karri Ramo, who allowed 2 goals on 11 shots the rest of the way. The Lightning have a signing decision with McKenna coming up this offseason, and I doubt allowing a goal to go through him and then being pulled was the final impression "Mack" wanted to make on management. Just my opinion, but we've probably seen the last of McKenna with the development of Riku Helenius in the AHL and the arrival of Dustin Tokarski to the pro ranks next season.
07:10 ATL Armstrong (21), (Bogosian, Enstrom)(PP)
16:30 ATL Perrin (7), (Reasoner, Exelby)(SH)
17:17 TB Pettinger (8), (Halpern, Quick)(PP)
09:15 ATL Kovalchuk (43), (White, Hainsey)
14:09 ATL Hainsey (6), (Peverley)(PP)
16:32 ATL Armstrong (22), (Kozlov, Peverley)
00:46 TB Stamkos (23), (unassisted)
06:20 ATL Stuart (5), (Reasoner)
The Lightning end up dropping from 31 wins and 71 points a year ago to 24 wins and 66 points this season. You know, for the amount of crap OK Hockey and their GM Brian Lawton talked garbage about the former GM, coaches, and scouts, I sure hope they man up and take accountability for the fact they did even worse this season, and then learn some valuable lessons (like defense and coaching are important, for instance). Post mortem to follow in the coming days. Draft lottery Tuesday night.
Noah Welch was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:58. He came on toward the end after an awful start to his stint with the Lightning. My preference would be to have Welch as a depth player in the organization offering veteran presence to the Norfolk Admirals next season. I'd love to see he and Richard Petiot wear the battleship next year.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 9:05. He was also 57% on draws. He does offer energy to the fourth line in the form of being an agitator and fighter, but I wanted to see more on the forecheck from Konopka. I like a fourth line that chews the ends off the boards, personally.
David Koci was -1 in 6:01. Long term, I think the Lightning need to draft and cultivate somebody who can play 8-10 minutes a night and fight the other team's heavies. I'm not sure Koci is that guy.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 4 shots, and 3 hits in 17:05. He was also 36% on draws. In the last week or two, I don't think there's another bubble guy who helped his stock more to make the team next season than Szczechura.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot in 11:26. I didn't see enough from Karsums to make me believe he shouldn't be ticketed for Norfolk next season, if he stays in North America.
Kevin Quick got his first NHL point, and assist, and was -1 with 1 shot in 14:57. There were shifts he looked overmatched tonight defensively and he reminded you that he's still got a couple of years in the making.
Matt Lashoff was -3 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 23:02. He'll want to burn the tape of this game, methinks.
Vladimir Mihalik was -1 with 2 blocked shots in 15:59. In his final callup of the year, his positioning and poise seemed to improve. However, you'd still like to see the assertiveness and aggression level go way up. He is just way too soft for a man his size right now. There's no excuse for anybody to ever physically beat him coming out from behind the net or the corners.
Game outing by the young defense.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 32 shots for the loss in his final start of the season.
00:36 TB Stamkos (22), (Konopka, St. Louis)
09:19 WSH Laich (21), (Backstrom, Green)(PP)
05:37 WSH Laich (22), (Green, Nylander)
06:08 WSH Steckel (8), (Bradley, Aucoin)
12:53 TB Pettinger (7), (Szczechura, Mihalik)
19:55 WSH Green (31), (unassisted)(EN)
Noah Welch had 3 hits and 3 blocked shots in 21:52. He's improved lately. I can't deny it.
Zenon Konopka had an assist and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 12:54. He was also 100% on draws. He had a strong first period, but got shuffled down to the lower lines later in the game.
David Koci had 2 penalty minutes in 6:30.
Paul Szczechura had 1 assist, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 16:31. He was also 50% on draws. He's really putting a stamp on the end of this season to make his case to be on the team next year. He's been flying the past couple of games.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 11:30. Karsums was the antithesis of Szczechura tonight, making the case why he belongs in Norfolk next season. He didn't get back in time on Washington's winning goal.
Kevin Quick had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:54. My gosh can he skate and my gosh does he have no fear with the puck on offense. Offensively, Kevin Quick's balls are so big their gravity effects the tides. I still say he needs to prove he can be a dominant player at the AHL season next year before he makes the jump in 2010-2011. However, he sure does remind you of Dan Boyle.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 assist and was +1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:14. He made a couple of nice plays, including a good pass that resulted in the Stamkos goal. He was in better position tonight, so his skating looked less awful. You could still time the release of his shot with a sun dial, though.
Geoff Kinrade was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 17:32. Sullivan even used him at the end of the game when the extra attacker was out. I was fairly impressed. He skates really well. Not Kevin Quick well, but well enough that you notice it. Contract?
The Panthers missed the playoffs again. Haaaa haaaa!
This team could be incredible if Lawton could find some defense without blowing up some other part of the team.
Karri Ramo allowed 5 goals on 30 shots for the loss. Despite allowing 5 goals, he actually didn't play all that badly. Two of Pittsburgh's goals came on breakaways and a third came on an uncovered player allowed to move in on Ramo all alone down the slot. The game winning goal was a case where Ramo was clearly interfered with after stopping the initial shot on the breakaway. Another goal came on a feed that went through the box on the PP down low to give Sid Crosby a clean look on Ramo moving laterally. Other than Cooke's goal to start the third period, which wasn't a bad goal so much as an untimely one, there's nothing I would fault Karri with. The decision is the 41st of Ramo's career, graduating him from prospect status here at BP.
05:00 PIT Fedotenko (16), (Staal, Kennedy)
10:08 PIT Crosby (31), (Malkin, Kunitz)(PP)
11:12 PIT Crosby (32), (Kunitz, Malkin)(PP)
01:08 PIT Cooke (12), (Staal, Letang)
04:31 TB Halpern (6), (Szczechura)(SH)
08:59 TB St. Louis (30), (Stamkos, Krajicek)
09:43 TB Szczechura (4), (unassisted)
11:43 PIT Sykora (25), (Fedotenko)
19:19 TB Halpern (7), (Karsums, Bochenski)
19:47 PIT Staal (22), (unassisted)(EN)
I give credit to the coaches and the players that no one laid down in the third period. It would've been damned easy to quit, but the Lightning came back and really gave the Pens a run for their money. They were one missed goaltender interference call away from getting to overtime. So, the heart is there, and for the most part the offensive potential is there. What's really lacking right now is two things: defense and penalty killing. The defense will get better by virtue of a healthy Andrej Meszaros and Paul Ranger. The penalty killing can't possibly get any worse. I don't know the stats, but the PK has been absolutely rancid the second half of this season.
Ryan Malone broke his hand blocking a shot in this game, making him the fifth key Lightning player to be shelved with a serious injury. He had already proven that last year wasn't a flash in the pan by potting his 26th goal. I give him credit. He's won me over. The injury may open up an opportunity for someone from Norfolk to get a two game cup of coffee. Blair Jones? Justin Keller? Juraj Simek?
Lets go Avs.
Noah Welch had 4 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:13 against the organization who drafted him.
Zenon Konopka was -1 with 2 hits in 9:58 and was 60% on draws. 9:58? Seemed like a lot more, in a good way. There are games where Konopka is nothing more than a circus clown, and then there are games like tonight where he plays hockey and he's a difference maker. He was a split second away from landing a shoulder-to-chin hit on Matt Cooke that would've made him a hero in Tampa Bay forever, and he about chewed the ends off the boards on the forecheck. Very well done.
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 22:56. Tonight was Smaby's 41st game of the season, meaning he joins Ramo as a freshly minted Bolt Prospects Alumni.
David Koci had 3 hits and 17 penalty minutes in 6:00 of ice time. His fight against Eric Godard seemed like the emotional tipping point of this game. Again, very well done.
Paul Szczechura had 1 goal, 1 assist, and was +2 with 2 penalty minutes, and 4 shots in 16:00. He also was 33% on draws. I don't know what it is about Pittsburgh, but when Szczechura sees that jersey he seems to duck into the nearest phone booth and turn into Superman. I still don't think Szczechura is in his best shape, but he was flying tonight. That's the best game he's played in months, and the kind of game he needs to get on tape if he wants to make the team next season.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist, 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:23. He was fairly invisible, despite the impressive stat line.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 1 hit in 17:23. I don't know if he got hurt or if the coaching staff was sending a message.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:41. Mobility is obviously an issue with Vladdy, but his lack of decisiveness remains a bigger concern to me.
2-1/2 hours of my life I'll never get back.
Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 21 shots for the loss. That might've been his worst game as a member of the Lightning. Each of the Islanders' first two goals are ones Mike probably would like back and he made another big puck handling error that he managed to get away with. He's got one more start scheduled this season, and that's probably a good thing. You'd hate to go out like that after a pretty successful year.
00:23 NYI Park (14), (Joensuu)
14:52 NYI Martinek (5), (Gervais, Joensuu)(PP)
16:38 TB Pettinger (6), (Karsums)(PP)
09:14 NYI Bailey (7), (Comeau, Gervais)(PP)
The Lightning waited 35 minutes tonight to start playing. Watching grass grow would've been more exciting.
Noah Welch had 3 hits and 3 blocked shots in 19:04. He's been decent the past two games, which is shocking considering how poorly he'd previously played.
Zenon Konopka had a fight, 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 67% on draws in 7:42. He earned his game check.
Matt Smaby was beastly with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 7 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 22:22. He's been so much better since taking a game off to nurse his foot injury. Graduation Tuesday. Bring your digital cap and gown.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 1 blocked shot in 15:33. He was also 38% on draws.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist and was -1 with 6 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:02. Like Welch, he's playing better in these past two games.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 3 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 27:17. He lost a couple of physical battles that resulted in one puck going in the net and one being rung off the post. He didn't do his younger pairing partner any favors.
Vladimir Mihalik was -1 with 1 shot in 13:05 paired primarily with Lashoff. I thought this was his best NHL game thus far, but that may not be saying much. He looked more confident, but he's still a little slow to react to the play. The guy's a mountain and he had 0 hits. That's still a problem. I was, admittedly, surprised he got the call over Ty Wishart or Kevin Quick.