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NHL Playoff Game Night 4/18: Devils at Lightning

Buckle up, this could be a long series now.

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Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 37 shots in the loss. He was great tonight though. No complaints. Gomez's OT winner was just a great shot. Martin St. Louis led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist. Eric Perrin and Vincent Lecavalier had the Lightning's goals. Filip Kuba, Brad Richards and Vaclav Prospal added assists.

The good news? New Jersey still can't stop the Lightning's big guns. They have no answer for Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis. None.

The bad news? On balance this was probably the first game of the series where the Jersey skaters really outplayed the Lightning's skaters. Far too many turnovers by the Lightning to count. They must tighten up going into a critical Game Five.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Anzalone Out as Chiefs Coach?

In today's Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, reporter Mike Mastovich states the future of Johnstown Chiefs coach Frank Anzalone, one of only four ECHL coaches with 300 wins (332), is in limbo.

“I’ve been in Tampa. The hockey operations situation is in the hands of (Lightning GM) Jay Feaster,” Anzalone told the newspaper. Anzalone attended the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoff game against visiting New Jersey on Monday night after meeting with Feaster for his year-end evaluation. “I don’t know 100 percent what they are or are not doing. Obviously I will be affected by hockey operations systems, whether I like it or not.”

To read the full article, see the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.

CHL Playoffs Game Night 4/16: Goliath Falls

Everett 2 @ Prince George 8
Prince George wins best-of-7 series 4-2

The Everett Silvertips entered the 2007 WHL Playoffs with the league's best record, its top seed, and the top ranking in the entire Canadian Hockey League. In fact, Everett was ranked No.1 in the CHL 14 of the last 15 weeks of the season. They entered Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals series with Prince George with a 2 games to 0 lead on the Cougars, seemingly coasting to the WHL Conference Finals.

NHL Playoff Game Night 4/16: Devils at Lightning

The Lightning take a 2-1 series lead as the Devils still have no answer for Tampa's big guns.

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Johan Holmqvist stopped 30 of 32 shots faced for the win. Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards each had 1 goal and 1 assist and Martin St. Louis had a pair of helpers but it was Vaclav Prospal's third period goal that finally snuffed out the Devils' hopes of stealing a Game Three road win. Filip Kuba also added an assist.

The Devils got a ridiculously lucky goal on a 2-on-1 centering feed from Zach Parise that bounced off a sliding Dan Boyle and in. Otherwise, this is a 3-1 win. Just like Game One should have been a 3-1 win. Almost like Game Two was a 3-1 win. The Lightning are having little trouble getting to three goals even against the much honored Martin Brodeur and it seems the only way the Devils can get to 3 goals themselves is if Holmer implodes. So long as Holmqvist continues to provide good goaltending, the Lightning should have the upper hand in this series.

Now the Lightning have put New Jersey in a situation where they've got to win 3 of the next 4 games to win the series. That's good, not great. Stepping on Jersey's throat by taking Game Four and getting this to a 3-1 series lead? That would be great.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Chiefs Owner Tells Paper "Changes are Coming"

In an April 14 article by Mike Mastovich of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown Chiefs President Jim Weber promised that changes are coming.

“Last year we went farther in the playoffs and I’m not happy that we took a step back,” Weber told the paper. “I gave this system two years. I’m starting a reassessment process, everything from top to bottom. I’m going to take into consideration some things the fans said and things people in the hockey operation said. In the end, I’m going to take full responsibility for doing what is right for the entertainment factor for the fans as well as the on-ice product.”

Mastovich notes the Lightning handled personnel moves during a 33-33-6 fifth-place season and “it’s no secret that without Tampa Bay assigning the majority of the players and offsetting many expenses associated with hockey operations, this team would be history in Johnstown.”

He also states that the constant player movement between Johnstown and Springfield was detrimental to the team, leaving them embarrassingly short on players some nights, and fans “frequently complained they were bored watching players attempt to execute [Tampa Bay’s] system.”

Head Coach Frank Anzalone told the newspaper fans should be proud of Chiefs players this year despite the team’s first round exit. However, he also stated: “Yeah, everybody wants to quote-unquote go deep in the playoffs and win Kelly Cups. But you have to have a team built for that. This organization is built to develop hockey players.”

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