In Russian Superleague action today, winger Anton But had a goal and two assists as Yaroslavl tied Novokuznetsk 5-5.
A tie was also in the offing in the match between Togliatti and Nizhnekasmk. Vasily Koshechkin allowed a third period goal to allow Neftekhimik to tie Lada 2-2. Koshechkin's record moves to 14-5-3 on the year.
At a glance, here is the schedule for Lightning prospects in the round robin phase at the 2006 IIHF U-20 World Junior Championships (all times EST):
1. Finland vs. Canada (7pm)
2. Slovakia vs. Latvia (10pm)
3. Russia vs. Slovakia (10pm)
4. USA vs. Finland (11pm)
5. Czech Republic vs. Slovakia (10pm)
6. Finland vs. Norway (11pm)
7. Slovakia vs. Sweden (10pm)
8. Switzerland vs. Finland (11pm)
In Tampa, Pavel Kubina continues to nurse a groin strain which may or may not prompt the recall of a defenseman from Springfield by Monday's game against Carolina. Fatigue along the backline was obvious for the Lightning in their game against Buffalo last night as they were forced to go with five defensemen again for the duration of the contest. If a defenseman is recalled, Timo Helbling or Doug O'Brien appear to be the two most logical options for the Lightning.
In Springfield, on top of the recalls of Ryan Craig and Darren Reid, winger Zbynek Hrdel is expected to be out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury. The Falcons had originally decided to recall Justin Kelly, Randy Rowe and winger Brandon Elliot to the Falcons, but Elliot broke his hand in a fight in his last ECHL game prompting Adam Henrich to be recalled instead. Rowe suffered an abdominal injury that also kept him from being recalled and likely won't be back until December 30th.
In Johnstown, Mike Egener is finally close to returning from his own knee injury. He should be a welcome addition to the Chiefs lineup. However, the Chiefs have lost not only Rowe and Elliot, but will be without veteran Paul Caponigri for two to three weeks with a concussion also suffered in the midst of a fight.
SKA St. Petersburg defeated Lada Togliatti 2-0 yesterday. As a result, Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin's record on the season drops to 14-5-2. Koshechkin still leads the league in save percentage (.948), goals against average (1.21) and shutouts (tied with Travis Scott with 8).
All I want for Christmas is my hockey team to get the chip back on its shoulder. Right now this club is doing nothing to dissuade its critics up north from the idea the 2004 Stanley Cup team was nothing more than a flash in the pan. Question is, do these Lightning care enough to prove it wasn't?
Vincent Lecavalier was given a one game suspension for a high sticking incident that was ruled to be intentional and thus did not play tonight. Pavel Kubina also did not play and thus the team went with 5 defensemen tonight. John Grahame stopped 27 of 30 in the game before the Sabres tacked on an empty net goal. Honestly though, it means little if the club is going to provide so little goal support for him.
Paul Ranger played 20:18 of even hockey. Ryan Craig played 10:08 and registered three shots on goal. Darren Reid played 7:43. Evgeny Artyukhin, after taking an early hooking call, was the low man amongst rookies with 6:26 of ice time.
I hope this team takes the opportunity over the next two days to reflect on where it is, how it has allowed itself to fall so far behind in its own division, and what will happen if they don't show up to work ready to play 60 minutes of desperate hockey on Monday.
Game sheet from NHL.com.