As far as Lightning prospect watching goes, outside of a Calder Cup it’s hard to top the past week.
Our top-rated prospect, Jonathan Drouin, was finally freed, taking the left wing spot on Tampa Bay’s top line next to Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan. Drouin was also promoted to the top power play unit, though “promoted” could be interpreted as a reply to an S.O.S. signal that didn’t include red lights.
Then there’s 19-year-old goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Our No. 2 prospect made his NHL debut with a stellar performance in Philadelphia, allowing an early, no-chance deflection goal. On Saturday, Vasilevskiy put on a cape and turned in one of the best goaltending performances in Lightning history, stopping 45 of 47 shots in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Islanders. Lightning skaters had the best seats in the house for Vasy’s show and did their fair share of watching.
Magnitogorsk 3 vs. Ekaterinburg 0
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, SO, 41/41, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Season totals: 34 GP, 23-4-4, 4 SO, 1.68 GAA, .939 sv%
Vasily Koshechkin turned aside all 41 shots he faced to lead Magnitka to a 3-0 Christmas Eve triumph over Ekatrinburg. Ex-Jackets pick Sergei Mozyakin had 2 goals and 3 points in the victory.
Bratislava 4 vs. Nizhnekamsk 6
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, Loss, 32/37, 5.04 GAA, .865 sv%
Season totals: 22 GP, 6-11-5, 2 SP, 2.75 GAA, .896 sv%
Ex-Syracuse Crunch Dan Sexton had a pair of goals to help Nizhnekamsk defeat Slovan Bratislava 6-4. Ex-NHLer Ladislav Nagy had a goal in defeat for Slovan.
Christmas done Triplets style.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the victory. Tonight was light work until Third Period garbage time, which was a welcome relief after the volume of shots/chances he faced on Long Island.
6:54 TB Johnson (11), (Kucherov, Palat)
19:56 TB Johnson (12), (Palat, Hedman)
0:52 TB Kucherov (14), (Carle, Filppula)
2:37 TB Johnson (13), (Kucherov, Palat)
10:15 PIT Hornqvist (13), (Klinkhammer)
9:55 PIT Kunitz (10), (Malkin)
18:29 PIT Letang (8), (Hornqvist, Malkin)
This was a very important win for a number of reasons. One, it showed the thing that happened on Long Island was an aberration. Two, it allows the team to feel good headed into the Winter Break and they can start after the break with a pretty fresh slate. Third, it helped them bury the long losing streak they've had against Pittsburgh, which is a team they'll likely see over the next few years as a playoff adversary. True, the Pens were depleted. True the Pens were tired. I'm not under any delusions that the Lightning bested the Penguins' most fearsome lineup tonight. But, it's something positive to build on, and they did have Crosby, Malkin, and (for a little while) Fleury on the rink.
When the Lightning come back from break, the first 5 things they need to work on are: power play, power play, power play, power play, and power play. It's bad right now. Absolutely terrible. Time for the coaching staff to take some egg nog down into Cooper's laboratory and white board something fresh, because what they're doing right now is an atrocity masquerading as a travesty.
With 4 games to go in this 10-game segment, the Lightning sit 7 points shy of the 12 they would want per segment, but just 2 points shy of the spot they need to be at the end of the 4th segment (48 points) thanks to the insurance points they've squirreled away. 7 out of 8 possible points is tough, but you'd like to see the Lightning get at least 5 or 6 out the 8 possible points so they don't burn off too much of what they have in the bank in case another rainy day pops up.
Cedric Paquette had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:29. I thought he played his role really well tonight.
Jonathan Drouin was -2 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:04. I'm not a huge fan of the Drouin/Stamkos/Connolly combination that was put together by Cooper tonight, because I'm not sure I see a lot of puck retrieval on that line unless Stammer does it.
Bratislava 2 vs. Togliatti 3 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, SO Loss, 18/20, 1.85 GAA, .900 sv%
Season totals: 21 GP, 6-10-5, 2 SO, 2.64 GAA, .898 sv%
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 of 2 to convert in the penalty shot session in Slovan's 3-2 loss to Togliatti. Ex-Lightning prospect Michal Sersen assisted on the Third Period tying goal for Slovan in the match. Former Lightning draft pick Fedor Fedorov also had a helper for Togliatti.
Rapid City Rush 5 at Wichita Thunder 4 SO
F Danick Gauthier, WIC: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 27 GP, 12-13-25, +1, 35 PIM, 91 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 1 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
D Daniel Milan, WIC: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 0-5-5, -6, 53 PIM, 29 SOG
The Thunder and Rush battled to an 11 round shootout before Rapid City finally secured the extra point. Danick Gauthier failed to convert in the shootout, and was held pointless in his 3rd straight game. His goal-drought now stands at 5 straight games. Feels like Gauthier is in a mini-funk since the Dec 7th thug-fest in Elmira when he received a fighting major and a 10 minute misconduct. In those seven games, Gauthier is 1-3-4 in contrast to the 11-10-21 in the 20 games prior. Wichita now breaks for the holidays, with their next game on Dec 27th against the division leading Americans.