Jones, Blair

Lightning Reassign Jones to Admirals

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned center Blair Jones to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced Sunday.

Jones, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, appeared in two games for the Lightning after being recalled on Friday. He recorded one shot on goal and averaged 12:43 in ice time per game. Jones has played in 26 career NHL games with the Lightning, recording a goal and three points. He was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the fourth round (102nd overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

NHL Game Night: 12-5-09 Islanders at Lightning

Just what the doctor ordered.

NYI-0
TB-4

Mike Smith stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout. He's been fairly resilient this season. He had a terrible game against Ottawa earlier in the year and he had a good start his next time out afterwards. He was suspect a couple of times against Boston, in my opinion, but he shut the door tonight against the Isles.

First Period
TB 1:35, Malone 16 (Meszaros, St. Louis)
TB 19:08, Downie 5 (Meszaros, St. Louis)(PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
TB 2:58, Halpern 5 (Foster, Lecavalier)(PP)
TB 10:31, Hedman 1 (Lecavalier, Tanguay)

Steve Downie is quietly becoming a real weapon on the power play, and Jeff Halpern is obviously a new man after his conversion to the wing.

Zenon Konopka had 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, and was 71% on draws in 7:34.

James Wright had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 50% on draws in 12:51.

Blair Jones had 1 shot, 1 blocked shot, and was 50% on draws in 12:00.

Victor Hedman scored his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 21:32. To use the basketball vernacular, the big man filled the lane and finished with authority on the "fast break" 3-on-1. Seriously, he looked like a shark attacking his prey the way he recognized the odd man rush situation and used his speed to blast right to the net and he made no mistakes with his shot. Beautiful, beautiful goal.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-4-09 Lightning at Devils

I'd almost rather lose a game 4-2 then cough up a winning goal in the last minute. Almost.

TB-2
NJ-3

Antero Niittymaki allowed 3 goals on 19 shots for the loss. It's been an alarming trend over the last week and a half where the Lightning haven't been getting quite the same level of goaltending they were getting, and the results have very quickly turned sour because of it. That's not to say Niitty was terrible, but 3 goals on 19 shots isn't a pretty number.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
TB 1:26, Lecavalier 6 (Halpern)

Third Period
NJ 1:15, Rolston 9 (Niedermayer)(PP)
NJ 5:14, Bergfors 8 (Zharkov)(PP)
TB 17:00, Downie 4 (Stamkos, Malone)(PP)
NJ 19:21, Langenbrunner 6 (Greene, Rolston)

Zenon Konopka had 5 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 7:18.

Paul Szczechura played just 4:12 in the game.

James Wright got in his first NHL fight and had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 9:23.

Blair Jones had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 13:27. Let me be one of the first to say how proud I am of Blair to work his way into this opportunity. He has always had a lot of promise since his days in junior, but he's fluctuated between the penthouse in his rookie season and the doghouse for the past couple of seasons because he's a bit of a laid back Western farm boy, as Steve Stirling once put it to me, so the physical and defensive intensity hasn't always been there night in and night out. He's really started to understand more about being prepared to go every night and he's earned this chance. Let that be a lesson to all the youngsters in Norfolk: even in your fourth season of pro you've got a chance if you work hard, prepare like a professional, and put it together at the rink.

Victor Hedman was +1 with 1 hit in 19:32.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12-4-09 Admirals at Phantoms

Love that headline on the press release from the Admirals. Move over Iverson.

NOR-2
ADK-1 (OT)

Dustin Tokarski stopped 22 of 23 to get a win the Admirals absolutely needed to have.

First Period
ADK Kolanos, (4) (Dingle, Bellamy), 3:42

Second Period
NOR Smolenak, (3) (Lundin, Mihalik), 17:47

Third Period
NO SCORING

Overtime
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.

Blair Jones Recalled to Tampa

TAMPA BAY, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled center Blair Jones from the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.

Jones, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Central Butte, Saskatchewan, led the Admirals in assists, was second in points and was tied for third in goals. The fourth-year pro had six goals and 13 assists while appearing in all 25 games so far for the Admirals in 2009-10. His recall will end a stretch of 155 consecutive games played for Norfolk – the second-longest consecutive games played streak in AHL Admirals history.

Jones’ recall comes on the heels of a spectacular month of November. In November, Jones was tied for second in the American Hockey League in points (16), was second in plus/minus (+11), was fourth in assists (11) and was tied for 20th in goals (5).

Last season, Jones set career highs with 20 goals, 34 assists and 54 points in all 80 games. He ranked second in scoring, fourth in goals, second in assists and tied for second in power play goals (8) with Norfolk in 2008-09. He also established a new AHL Admirals franchise record with 271 shots on goal, ranking third in the American Hockey League.

AHL Game Night: 11-28

So hard to defeat a team on back to back nights.

ALB-3
NOR-2

Riku Helenius allowed 3 goals on 29 shots in the loss.

First Period
NOR Craig, (8) (Jones, Wishart), 5:03
ALB Boychuk, (6) (Chaput, Samson), 13:53
ALB Micflikier, (3) (Hennigar, Harrison), 14:50

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
ALB Carson, (3) (Boychuk, Chaput), 6:26 (PP)
NOR Graham, (1) (Hall, Jones), 12:30

Ethan Graham and Blair Jones were named the game's second and third stars. Jones has been absolutely unstoppable with 5 goals and 16 points in his last 13 games.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-27 River Rats at Admirals

A huge overtime victory for a Norfolk team that needs to right the ship at home.

ALB-3
NOR-4 (OT)

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the win.

First Period
NOR Hall, (3) (Tyrell, Smaby), 6:51
ALB Micflikier, (2) (Hennigar), 7:59
ALB Dodge, (6) (Pistilli, Angelidis), 16:39

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NOR Jones, (6) (Craig, Jackson), 5:48
NOR Syroczynski, (4) (Graham), 7:41
ALB Angelidis, (1) (Blanchard), 8:48

Overtime
NOR Wishart, (2) (Craig, Bochenski), 3:50

Ty Wishart and Blair Jones were the game's first and second stars. Norfolk absolutely poured it on, outshooting Albany 46-30, including 17-6 in the Third Period. The win moves the Admirals back to 11-12-1, and into a three-way tie at 23 points for second place in the East Division with Bighamton and Albany. They're in a tough spot in that they've played a lot more games (24) than some other teams in the division like Wilkes-Barre. However, they've also got a very home-friendly stretch of games over the next month. Now is the time for the Ads to not only regroup, but start to make a bit of a move.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-25 Penguins at Admirals

The losing streak hits four.

WBS-3
NOR-1

Riku Helenius allowed three goals on 31 shots for the loss.

First Period
WBS Wallace, (5) (Caputi, Smith), 11:22
WBS Wallace, (6) (Smith), 13:09
NOR Simek, (4) (Jones, Smolenak), 19:44 (PP)

Second Period
No scoring

Third Period
WBS Smith, (4) (Strait, Caputi), 0:33

Blair Jones now has 13 points in his last 11 games and a modest two game point streak. Radek Smolenak has three points in his last two games. Helenius has lost three of his last four, but his season-long GAA remains under two (1.99).

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 11-22 Admirals at Sharks

Thud.

NOR-2
WOR-3

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss.

First Period
WOR McCarthy, (2) (Zalewski, Mashinter), 18:08

Second Period
NOR Syroczynski, (3) (Smolenak), 16:11

Third Period
WOR Quirk, (1) (Callahan), 1:10
WOR Curadeau, (1) (Groulx, Stalock), 4:12
NOR Jones, (5) (Smolenak, Graham), 16:01

Blair Jones was named the game's third star. That's 4 goals and 12 points in his last 10 games. You wonder if and when Jones will get an NHL shot.

Norfolk drops back below .500 and now must regroup back at home in Norfolk.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 11-20 Admirals at Devils

McKenna's revenge on the Lightning organization.

NOR-1
LOW-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the loss to former Lightning goaltender Mike McKenna.

First Period
LOW Zharkov, (5) (Walter, Perkovich), 0:24
LOW Swift, (4) (Magnan, Murphy), 12:12

Second Period
NOR Bochenski, (12) (Jones, Mihalik), 12:33

Third Period
NO SCORING

In his last 8 games, Blair Jones has 3 goals and 11 points. That's good news. Matt Lashoff is scoreless and -3 in 4 games since returning from injury. That's bad news. If you had told me that after 14 games with Norfolk that Lashoff would only have 1 goal and 2 points and be -9, I might've laughed at you. It's not so funny now. In my mind he's ceded a lot of ground to Mike Lundin in terms of the roster situation coming up for next season. Lundin's probably in line to be a PlanetUSA All-Star. The only honor Lashoff might be able to win for his play so far this year would be at a dog show. It's hard to believe this is the same player who looked so impressive for the Lightning down the stretch of last season. What happened, and how does it get fixed?

In my mind, due to payroll constraints, the Lightning are probably in a situation where they need to decide which one out of Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros they want to keep long term after this season. As a consequence, there will be an opening for a mobile two-way, puck moving defenseman, and entering the year I though Lashoff had an edge on Lundin in winning that spot if it does indeed come open. Now? Lundin by a mile. Lashoff needs to pick it up at both ends of the rink.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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