Connolly, Brett

NHL Game Night: 10-7-11 Lightning at Hurricanes

The 2011-2012 regular season begins just as the 2010-2011 regular season ended. Tears for Hurricanes fans.

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CAR-1

Dwayne Roloson made 32 saves for the victory. He took care of business.

First Period
CAR Skinner,(1)(Gleason, Ruutu), 8:07

Second Period
TB St. Louis, (1)(Stamkos), 5:19
TB Lecavalier, (1)(Stamkos, St. Louis), 17:50 (PP)

Third Period
TB Downie, (1)(Bergeron, Shannon), 12:22 (PP)
TB Hall, (1)(Thompson, Jones), 12:32
TB Malone, (1)(Purcell, Brewer), 16:58

Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were the game's first and second stars.

That's how an elite team handles its business on opening night. Carolina has a young team with a lot of enthusiasm and they came out hard in the first period, and the Lightning just stomped the living daylights out of them in the final 40 minutes. That's what contenders do to borderline, mediocre teams.

Beautiful hand-eye coordination by Vincent Lecavalier on his power play goal. Stammer-esque, dare we say?

You have to love how just about everyone on the team got to drink from the well of prosperity in this one. When you get not just the top guys, but also the second tier of guys like Malone and Shannon and you even get the 4th liners some cookies too, that's how you build confidence up and down the lineup.

The despair of the Hurricane's announcing duo is still a sweet melody to my ears. Get ready for 81 more like that, boys.

Brett Connolly had 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 14:20 in his NHL debut.

Blair Jones, who is the human victory cigar at Bolt Prospects, had a helper, 2 shots, and was +1 in 9:04. We're throwing a parade when he graduates from prospect status later this season. It's almost like a child's high school graduation for us, because sometimes it seems like we've been covering him for 17-18 years.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Prospect of the Week (10.2.11)

(Week ending October 2)

This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award. The award is (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions. There are no trophies or plaques or chocolate coins involved, but we’re fairly certain this will carry heavy weight among players in the global hockey community (we were able to find a picture of him with a trophy, however. Pretend it's from us.). Quite simply, we wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospect’s achievement on the ice.

This week’s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to … Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-29-11 Lightning at Canadiens

Lightning looking strong for the start of the season, but still room for improvement.

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MTL-0

Dwayne Roloson stopped all 24 shots he faced. He looks sharp. Ready to go.

First Period
TB 9:15 Stamkos, (Gervais)
TB 11:51 Stamkos, (St. Louis, Gilroy)

Second Period
TB 16:43 Connolly, (St. Louis, Kubina)

Third Period
TB 18:49, Connolly, (Malone)

The game could've been a 6-0 final. Vincent Lecavalier had a soft goal by Peter Budaj taken off the board by a quick whistle and another play by Tom Pyatt that was likely a goal wasn't counted. Overall, it was a very strong effort by the forwards and goaltenders, but there's room for improvement on the backline. They looked a little sloppy in their own end turning the puck over on breakouts and there was a 10 minute period at the end of the first period they were living dangerously within the first 10 feet of their blueline in the Lightning zone. That's got to get cleaned up. The Canadiens hit a few posts tonight and Roloson was sharp. That won't always be the case, though. Boucher has things to harp about on this game tape.

The question of what to do with Brett Connolly is an interesting one. Bob McKenzie is saying he's likely to start the season with the Lightning and at least get a regular season audition, and it's hard to argue with that because he keeps scoring. That said, he doesn't pass the eyeball test, to me, when it comes to having NHL strength on the puck. I will say this, though, if he doesn't stick in Tampa this year he'll probably the Calder Trophy favorite going into next season.

The rest of the bubble forwards had a tougher time of it, in my opinion. Pyatt got a goal waved off so he was probably the best of the rest. Dana Tyrell skated really well but had some turnovers and stubbed his toe in some situations where he could've been more dangerous offensively. Blair Jones' slow first step really stood out in this game where there was a lot of flow. He hits everything that moves, and he's an honest player, but he looked like a SUV on a street full of sports cars tonight.

Mattias Ritola looks to be in and Connolly may get his NHL regular season audition and Pyatt is probably going to make it. Tyrell and Jones may not make it to the finish line, though.

Box score from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-23-11 Panthers at Lightning

God even hates Panthers fans in preseason.

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Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 of 33 for the win. Hide the children and the silverware, old man Roli is back in town.

First Period
08:06 TB Ritola, (Kubina, Connolly)(PP)

Second Period
06:31 TB Shannon, (Kubina, Bergeron)(PP)
12:55 TB Shannon, (Stamkos, Clark)

Third Period
00:23 TB Ashton, (Brewer)
04:20 FLA Skille, (Robak)(PP)
16:20 FLA Repik, (Robak, Derlyuk)
18:46 TB Lecavalier, (Purcell, Hedman)

As the Lightning move a little closer to icing their opening night lineup, now reading the tea leaves gets more interesting.

Carter Ashton and Brett Connolly each got over 14 minutes of ice time, while Cory Conacher, Dana Tyrell, and Blair Jones got less, especially Jones. Connolly and Conacher remain decisive underdogs, but the battle between Ashton, Tyrell, and Jones for positioning is fascinating. Boucher knows what he has in Tyrell, and to a lesser extent Jones. For Ashton to get himself a goal and play 14+ quality minutes is a key step for him in trying to establish a comfort level with Boucher.

And, then there's the matter of Mattias Ritola, who is a different player now than when Boucher had him in the lineup the first half of last season. He got over 14 minutes and quite a bit of PK ice time. Like Ashton, for him to get a goal and play 14+ quality minutes helps establish a comfort level with the coaching staff. I'd say he was probably the big winner on the night.

Box score from NHL.com.

Lightning Sign 2010 First Round Draft Pick Brett Connolly

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed right wing Brett Connolly to a standard three-year, entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Connolly, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, spent last season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, recording 46 goals, 27 assists and 73 points in 59 games played. He set WHL career-highs for goals and points while also ranking third among all WHL goal-scorers. His 15 power-play goals ranked 12th.

A native of Campbell River, British Colombia, Connolly has spent each of the past four seasons with Prince George of the WHL. Throughout his career he has amassed 86 goals and 152 points in 144 WHL games. He has also appeared in five career postseason games, registering two points.

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