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.
The streak continues.
The Syracuse Crunch netted a pair of power play goals in a 3-2 victory over the Albany River Rats in the final game before the holiday break at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The nine-game win streak is the longest the franchise has had in its three years affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Syracuse leads the Northeast Division and is second overall in the Eastern Conference. While the Crunch would like to keep the momentum rolling, they are welcoming a short rest.
"They deserve it," Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler said of the break. "These guys played very hard. You could see it out there. It was a chippy, kind of nasty game, but I think our players played hard and they deserve the five days."
This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:
· Analyzing Vasilevskiy's debut
· Taylor Hall trade rumors
· Interview with Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis
· BP Mailbag (More on TB goaltending future, KHL fallout, Artem Sergeev status update)
· TB prospect World Juniors preview
To listen on Lightning Radio, go to TBLPowerPlay.com.
Previous BP Podcast editions:
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.
Ontario Hockey League
Windsor Spitfires 4 @ Saginaw Spirit 7
W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, E, 6 PIM
Season totals: 27 GP, 9-7-16, -12, 49 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM
DiGiacinto broke a personal three-game scoreless drought with an assist Saturday.