Crunch make Phantoms vanish in OT.
Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 48 shots for the victory. Suffice it to say McKenna hasn't cloaked himself in glory thus far in Syracuse, but he bathed in the deep waters of sweet, sweet goal support tonight.
7:40 SYR Koekkoek (2), (Lynch, Vermin)
4:09 SYR Kurtz (2), (Thomas, Blujus)
6:54 LV Fazleev (6), (Aube-Kubel)
12:15 LV Martel (17), (McDonald, Zengerle)(PP)
13:15 LV Miele (8), (Conner, Brennan)(PP)
8:16 SYR Lynch (3), (McNamee, Racine)
17:56 LV Martel (18), (Alt, Miele)
18:56 SYR Taormina (14), (Lynch)(PP)
3:51 SYR McGinn (6), (Taormina, Peca)
Kevin Lynch and Mike McKenna were the game's first and third stars. McKenna was an interesting selection after getting bailed out by a Crunch extra attacker goal that took him off the hook for a late game softie.
At the moment, Syracuse holds a 3 point lead atop the North Division with 1 game in hand on Albany.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
How many mistakes by #89 do you need to see before you make a move?
1:39 STL Tarasenko (11), (Parayko)
9:37 STL Tarasenko (12), (Steen, Shattenkirk)(PP)
10:39 TB Paquette (2), (Drouin, Vermin)
13:17 STL Shattenkirk (5), (Steen, Fabbri)(PP)
1:44 STL Shattenkirk (6), (Steen, Tarasenko)(PP)
14:25 TB Johnson (8), (Kucherov, Palat)
1:41 TB Kucherov (12), (Hedman, Boyle)(PP)
8:11 STL Tarasenko (13), (Fabbri, Shattenkirk)
11:56 TB Paquette (3), (Drouin, Vermin)
Cedric Paquette was the game's third star.
Valiant effort by the Lightning who overcame a ton of early mistakes in this game to make it competitive in the Third Period. There were a lot of silver linings in this loss that hopefully the team can build off, presuming they can correct the stupid mistakes that led to all 5 goals, be it the turnovers than yielded 2 of the goals directly or the penalties that yielded the other 3.
With that said, I'm placing the goat horns firmly upon the brow of Nikita Nesterov. He had two turnovers that led to a penalty and a goal in the first case and a goal directly in the second case. When you couple that with the fact that just before the second mistake he had the tying goal on his stick and missed the net, I'll come out and say it: I'm over 89. The whole calculus with an offensive defenseman is he's supposed to give you a possession and skill advantage that cancels out any negatives at the defensive end of the ice. But when a guy stinks this bad at his decision making in the offensive zone, struggles regularly with corralling pucks and moving them, and doesn't put points on the board when the chances come, why should the Lightning waste 17:00 of ice time on him? I'll take Dylan Blujus over that tomorrow. Cripes, I'll take the ghost of Yves Racine over him right now.
Halfway through the third 10-game segment of the season, the Lightning are in significant trouble with 27 points. They need 9 of 10 possible points to close the segment to stay on playoff pace and 10 of 10 if they want to get to the desired 12 for the segment. That seems incredibly unlikely at this hour, so the question of the night may be just how deep the hole will be that the Lightning have to dig out of once the next 5 game stretch concludes.
Brayden Point was -2 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:24.
Joel Vermin had 2 helpers and was +2 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:13. He made a definitive statement tonight. He was active and he was dangerous, far more so than fellow call up Bournival. He gave the Lightning exactly what they needed from that transaction. Very impressed.
The desperate search for rock bottom continues.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 38 shots for the loss. One soul destroying softie in garbage time. The rest weren't necessarily his fault.
5:30 CBJ Karlsson (4), (Anderson, Murray)
3:40 CBJ Wennberg (5), (Jones)
16:00 CBJ Anderson (7), (Hartnell, Nutivaara)
1:57 CBJ Hartnell (5), (Savard, Anderson)
12:38 CBJ Gagner (8), (unassisted)
17:10 TB Filppula (5), (Point, Sustr)
You have the intersection of two very bad factors conspiring to make the Lightning an uncompetitive team right now. First, you've got an injury to Anton Stralman forcing certain young defensemen to play above their weight class and, at the moment, they're showing they can't handle it. Second, you've got veteran players who should be your best players making mistakes they simply cannot be making. Victor Hedman's looked terrible the past few games. Jonathan Drouin's picture's been on the side of the milk carton. Even Nikita Kucherov had a horrifically bad turnover in this game that led to a key goal that put Tampa Bay down 2-0.
What's needed? A general commitment to get back to basics and play a simpler, harder working game to get a little more possession and draw a few more penalties. Also, perhaps a minor roster shake up. If the coaching staff's faith in players like Koekkoek and Witkowski is flagging, what's the harm in giving a player like Dylan Blujus a look? You'll lose games 6-1? And what's the harm in letting some of the Lightning's tired, nicked up forwards take a little rest in lieu of some speedy energy players like Joel Vermin or Michael Bournival? A little new blood and enthusiasm wouldn't be a bad thing at this moment.
I could comment on Tim Peel's ridiculous wave off of a goal where Ondrej Palat neither touched Bobrovsky nor shoved Jack Johnson into Bobrovsky. As clownish as that call was, and as damaging as it was in this game, though, the Lightning have more than the referees to be concerned about at this time.
Brayden Point had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot in 15:56.
Luke Witkowski had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 9:07.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:55.
Crunch overcome turkey coma to clip Marlies in OT.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 30 shots for the OT win.
3:41 TOR Kapanen (9), (Greening, Holl)
12:46 TOR Froese (9), (Leipsic)
1:01 TOR Greening (3), (Clune)(SH)
2:10 SYR Morin (1), (Taormina, Comrie)(PP)
5:07 SYR Vermin (4), (Darcy, Peca)(PP)
5:42 SYR Bournival (5), (Masin)
15:00 TOR Rychel (3), (Leipsic, Valiev)(PP)
15:23 SYR Taormina (3), (Bournival, Letourneau-Leblond)
1:59 SYR Blujus (1), (Walcott, Gourde)
Dylan Blujus and Gudlevskis were the game's first and third stars.
The Crunch having an early Thanksgiving hangover and falling behind 3-0 early at home was predictable but unacceptable. That was the theme of the night throughout the Lightning organization, by the way: the home Thanksgiving hangover. Fortunately, Syracuse showed a lot of resiliency in roaring back to life in the Second Period before Blujus eventually scored the winning goal in his return from injury. It's kind of a shame that Blujus got nicked up when he did given the injuries the Lightning have up top, because looking at his timetable he should be close to earning his first cup of coffee with the Lightning.
Syracuse pulls to within 3 points of the division lead with 2 games in hand on Albany. If they can go on a little run, first place seems there for the taking.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Lightning miss a second straight preseason shutout by an eyelash.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots for the OT win. The lone blemish was a goal surrendered in a 6-on-4 situation with 1:05 left in regulation. If the performances of the past two nights by Gudlevskis and Vasilevskiy are any indication, Yzerman might have the flexibility he needs if he does choose to move Ben Bishop for cap reasons.
5:21 TB Johnson (1), (Palat, Nesterov)[/b]
18:55 CAR Skinner (2), (DiGiuseppe, Rask)
1:38 TB Palat (1), (unassisted)
Very interesting lineup tonight from the Lightning and a pleasantly surprising performance. Tonight's group mixed in more NHL forwards, at least on the wings, but they pretty much went with Syracuse's defensive corps plus Nikita Nesterov, who may be a bubble player in this camp. It helps when you have Vasilevskiy behind you, but to almost get a shutout with that group is not too shabby.
Brayden Point had 4 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 16:09. He was also 33% on 9 draws. Sorry, son, you don't get to score a goal every game.
Cam Darcy had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:31 and was 30% on 10 draws. PLEASE, Jeff Halpern, teach these kids to win faceoffs.
Joel Vermin had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:44.
Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 14:02. For a guy who didn't score, his stat line still looks quite active, I have to say.
Henri Ikonen had 1 blocked shot in 14:15. The window is closing on the young Finn.
Brian Hart had 4 hits in 10:14. He then hit someone with an aluminum chair and put them in the Sharpshooter.
Luke Witkowski was +1 with 4 hits and 2 blocked shots in 21:10. He's not giving any quarter in camp to anybody.
Dominik Masin had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 19:55.
Matt Taormina had 1 shot in 19:46.
Dylan Blujus had 3 blocked shots in 19:29.
Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:10.
Syracuse Crunch clamp down on Panthers B squad.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout victory. This is an excellent start for a netminder who just got a prove it contract who may have an NHL backup opportunity looming in his future once the Lightning sort out their starting situation up top.
3:54 TB Morin (1), (unassisted)
14:48 TB Point (2), (Morin, Bournival)
Gudlevskis, Jeremy Morin, and Slater Koekkoek were the game's three stars. Kudos to the Lightning equipment guys for having the sense of humor to stick Morin in #33. He's one letter away from being a Lightning all-timer. Made me double-take, for certain.
If the Lightning preseason opener was a showcase for the team's junior prospects, tonight was an opportunity for many prospects earmarked for the Syracuse Crunch. And, on first blush, I'd think new coach Benoit Groulx will be pleased with what he saw tonight.
Matthew Peca had 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 19:37. 90% on 10 draws is pleasing to the eye. I remain convinced that for Syracuse to go anywhere, Peca's going to have to become a big time AHL player. He'll have a little more help this season with Brayden Point in Syracuse, but as an older and more experienced guy, he's one I suspect needs to become one of the leaders for the Crunch.
Tanner Richard had 2 hits in 16:49. 13% on 8 draws is a little cringe-worthy stat line on draws. He's on the clock now to make a push and earn a look in the NHL. Not sure he really flashed enough tonight.
Brayden Point had his second goal in as many games and was +2 with 3 shots in 14:02. He was also 45% on 11 draws. The Lightning are already trying to tamp down expectations because they know Point needs seasoning and experience, but his raw talent is undeniable.
Yanni Gourde had 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 16:58.
Mike Halmo had 4 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 11:48.
Gabriel Dumont had 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:57.
Daniel Walcott had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:43.
Dylan Blujus had 3 shots and 4 blocked shots in 18:34. Blujus is a guy who somewhat falls into the same boat as Richard. He needs to start making a push to challenge Witkowski to become the Lightning's first righty callup from Syracuse.
Jake Dotchin was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:48.
Slater Koekkoek was +1 in 16:40. The Lightning have played Koekkoek in both games, which is telling, but they've also resolved not to give him a gigantic load of minutes in these games as they might've been tempted to do. That tells me they're easing Koekkoek into a marathon rather than putting him through a sprint of a look-see.
Crunch beginning to master the playoff push.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 30 shots for the victory. 4 straight wins now from Kristers, who has refound his form after scuttling through January and February.
SYR Blujus, (6) (Peca, McGinn), 8:41
ALB Johnson, (2) (Crandall), 11:59
SYR Martindale, (3) (Gourde, Koekkoek), 13:16
SYR Drouin, (8) (Erne, Richard), 7:42
Dylan Blujus, Gudlevskis, and Jonathan Drouin were the game's three stars. With a fourth alarm clock now acquired and in place, nothing can stop Jonathan Drouin. And yes, I'll applaud whichever BoltProspects reader cleverly Photoshops Drouin sporting the Flavor Flav clock chain.
For the moment, Syracuse moves into 4th in the North Division by virtue of their 7-2-1 record over the last 10 games. However, it's looking like to get into the dance, Syracuse will need to get all the way up to 3rd in the division because of the unbalanced divisions. They're 1 point back of Utica now, but the Comets have 2 games in hand. Bottom line: they have to stay this hot the next 9 games to make it in.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Vasiy says, "LET THERE BE KITTENS!"
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 27 shots he faced for the shutout victory.
SYR Darcy, (2) (DeAngelo, Peca), 14:44 (PP)
SYR Walcott, (1) (Blujus, Broll), 7:46
SYR Blujus, (2) (Koekkoek, Peca), 2:38 (PP)
SYR McGinn, (6) (DeAngelo, Blujus), 18:11
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Dylan Blujus sees the positives in the competition.
With the eight defenseman combining for more than 1,500 pro games, the Syracuse Crunch has been forced to make tough decisions on who to play each night. Blujus knows that the amount of depth on the Syracuse blue line means any player who struggles is likely to watch the next game from the stands.
In his second year pro, Blujus has worked to strengthen his play in his own zone and chip in on offense when he can to keep his spot in the lineup.
“It’s also good for the D because you have to have a good game every night, because there’s someone who’s going to take your ice time if you’re not playing good,” Blujus said. “It’s tough, but it’s good for us.”
Crunch hang on for opening night win.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 3 goals on 29 shots for the victory. He didn't have a ton of work in the first half of the game, but made a handful of key stops at key moments in the second half of the contest to preserve the win, including a big glove stop at the end of the Third Period.
Click on any of the goals listed to see a GIF of the play.
LV Martel, (1) (Conner, Cousins), 16:31
It was kind of a tale of two games tonight, with Syracuse looking dominant in the first part of the game, only allowing the Phantoms chances on the odd unforced turnover and on the man advantage. They established a 4-1 lead in the Second Period and it had the look of a laugher, but they allowed Lehigh Valley to stick around and eventually spent the bulk of the Third Period protecting the dreaded 2 goal lead. They had a handful of very good forechecking shifts in the final frame to take some of the pressure off, but in the end it was a lot closer than it should have been.
Snap decision on this iteration of the Crunch is that they're very similar to last year's edition. Not surprising. They have decent speed but didn't look terribly threatening off the rush. Their bread and butter is still going to be the cycle and manufacturing those greasy goals, punctuated by the occasional laser beam from Marchessault (who was lethal tonight from the slot). With only one PP opportunity on the night, it's too early to judge if their extra man unit will be better than the travesty they called a power play last season.
As for the key newcomers, I thought Matthew Peca played a nice, responsible two-way game. He wasn't able to flash on the rush as I'd have expected, but I'm sure that'll come. Anthony DeAngelo got a helper for his first AHL point, but didn't get a chance to flash his offensive skill much in the game. Defensively, he reminds me a bit of Paul Ranger when Ranger was a rookie pro. That is to say, he's in the right zip code positionally, and even though he's not in perfect spots he's mobile enough to close the gap quickly. If he's anything like Ranger, he'll get sharper in that aspect as time goes on. Adam Erne had one very poor tripping penalty, but also showed a lot of the qualities that make him a valued prospect. He hits to hurt and he was very good on the cycle and on the forecheck in the Third Period as Syracuse was nursing the lead.
Box score from TheAHL.com.