Features

Articles that are feature stories.

Waiting Game Almost Over for Johnson


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Tyler Johnson tried to not think about it.

One step away from achieving his dream, the Syracuse Crunch forward, seeing teammate after teammate getting called up to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, kept a positive attitude.

“Everyone’s dream is to play in the NHL, so you’re always thinking about it,” Johnson said Tuesday. “At the same time, you can’t really worry about it. You have worry about playing here, and getting better. That’s what this league is about – getting better.”

Twenty-six of the 46 players participating in the AHL All-Star Game Jan. 28 have since made their NHL debuts, including the Crunch’s Richard Panik and Radko Gudas. Although Johnson was given a look during the abbreviated training camp after the end of the lockout, Johnson didn’t stick and still hasn’t played in a regular season NHL game.

Mikkelson Ready for Crunch Stretch Run


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Brendan Mikkelson is looking forward to the stretch run and playoffs, even if it is in the American Hockey League.

Mikkelson, who had trouble consistently cracking the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup, cleared waivers and was sent to the minor leagues Monday. The Regina native arrived in New York Tuesday, ready to refocus and rejoin the Eastern Conference-leading Syracuse Crunch.

Playing just four games with the Lightning this season, Mikkelson may stay in Syracuse through the Calder Cup playoffs, which would be his first time playing in the postseason since his rookie year with the Portland Pirates in 2007-08.

“I haven’t played in a week or so now,” Mikkelson said. “Hopefully I’ll be in the lineup and can contribute, and be someone who helps the team.”

Prospect of the Week: March 12, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for March 12 is … Radko Gudas, D, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA).

Lightning prospect followers have waited both patiently and impatiently for Radko Gudas to be called up to Tampa Bay, and it finally happened on Monday – but that’s not why he’s our Prospect of the Week.

What to Expect from Radko Gudas

It happened.

Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman called up 2010 third round draft pick Radko Gudas from the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch today.

Finally.

Gudas, a right-handed, people-moving defenseman, has been knocking at the NHL’s door for the past year, but especially in the last two months. While Tampa Bay’s defense has struggled, Gudas has been playing big, effective minutes in all game situations in Syracuse - just like Yzerman wanted.

It was only a matter of time before Yzerman couldn’t afford to leave Gudas in the AHL any longer.

What to Expect from Cedrick Desjardins

The Tampa Bay Lightning recalled goaltender Cedrick Desjardins from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Desjardins, 27, has appeared in 28 AHL games this season with the Syracuse Crunch and Hamilton Bulldogs, compiling a record of 11-5-2 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. Since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on February 14, Desjardins has notched a record of 4-2-0 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .928 save percentage including two shutouts with Syracuse. The 6-foot, 192-pound goaltender posted back-to-back shutouts with the Crunch on February 23 and 24. He ranks tied for fifth in the AHL in shutouts.

The Edmundston, New Brunswick, native has played in two career NHL games, both with the Lightning during the 2010-11 season, picking up a pair of victories while recording a 1.00 goals-against average and .968 save percentage.

What to expect from Desjardins:

Guy Boucher often talks of compete-levels, and there aren’t many goalies out there above Desjardins’ in that category.

Prospect of the Week: March 4, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for March 4 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse (AHL – USA).

Ondrej Palat liked being Prospect of the Week so much he did it again.

The Syracuse Crunch winger had his first career hat trick this past week, scoring three goals on Tuesday against Rochester. He was named first star for the Crunch in their 4-1 win. After a scoreless game against Albany on Friday, Palat had a power play goal in Syracuse’s overtime loss on Saturday.

Prospect of the Week: February 25, 2013

We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.

The Prospect of the Week for February 25 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Syracuse (AHL – USA)

Ondrej Palat doesn’t make headlines.

The Syracuse Crunch forward is a complimentary winger, usually photographed in the background of a dramatic goal or its celebration. But without him, that play probably doesn’t happen.

Palat gives a scoring line 2-way ability or playmaking, whichever is needed the most. Like Martin St. Louis with the Lightning, if a coach adds him to a line, that line gets better.

Bolt Prospects 2012-2013 Midterm Prospect Rankings

By Pete Choquette

It's been a long, strange trip for Bolt Prospects to arrive at this year's Midterm Prospect Rankings. Between the end of the NHL lockout and an abbreviated training camp, call-ups, graduations, and trades, there's been a lot of movement in the rankings. One lesson learned from the first half of this season: no more standing still for Lightning prospects. Even first and second round picks can't afford to stagnate in their development with so much quality depth within the organization. More than that, the youth movement is already beginning in Tampa Bay with three prospects currently up with the Lightning and recently graduated Keith Aulie also with the NHL club.

Trade Analysis: Tokarski Dealt to Habs

Longtime Tampa Bay Lightning prospect goaltender Dustin Tokarski was traded this morning to the Montreal Canadiens for former Lightning goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.

Desjardins, 27, has appeared in 22 games this season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, compiling a record of 7-13-2 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. The Edmundston, New Brunswick, native has played in two career NHL games, both with the Lightning during the 2010-11 season, picking up a pair of victories while recording a 1.00 goals-against average and .968 save percentage.

Top Lightning Prospects Confident Crunch Can Stop Slide


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The Syracuse Crunch's recent slide is the result of a myriad of factors.

After losing two straight games and six of their last seven, it is impossible for the Crunch to pinpoint one specific problem. With a little bit of everything to blame, the answers range from a mix of bad luck and tough opposition in net to defensive lapses and a lack of scoring.

“We just haven’t been playing the way we want to play,” said Crunch forward Tyler Johnson.

The Crunch hopes to remedy one of those problems, an absence of offense, by combining their top three point-scorers on the same line. With Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Brett Connolly practicing on the same unit, Syracuse hopes it becomes the team's slump-buster when Albany and Adirondack visit the Onondaga County War Memorial on Friday and Saturday.

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