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.
Strong 55 minutes of hockey marred by late game collapse.
Ray Emery stopped all 10 shots he faced before giving way to Adam Wilcox midway through regulation. Wilcox played well for 25 minutes before eventually allowing 3 goals for the OT loss. He stopped 14 of 17 overall on the night. Emery's performance lays down a strong initial claim to the role of Bishop's backup heading into the regular season with Vasilevskiy shelved the first couple of months of the campaign.
2:58 TB Condra (1), (Angelidis, DeAngelo)
1:01 TB Drouin (1), (Killorn, Hedman)
15:18 NSH Bass (1), (Bourque, Jones)
17:28 NSH Arvidsson (1), (Fiala)
3:50 NSH Ekholm (1), (Forsberg, Ellis)(PP)
Brayden Point was the game's second star.
Unfortunately, the last 9 minutes or so of hockey kind of overshadowed 55 minutes of hockey where the Lightning accomplished most of what they set out to do tonight. They got good performances from the backup goaltenders. They got Drouin on track early in preseason. They got some good performances from the young players, especially the young defensemen. I think the staff will be happy with the night, on balance, but you want to finish it off and get the result, of course.
Anthony DeAngelo had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 21:03. They let their young thoroughbreds out for a good long run tonight.
Mike Angelidis had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit and 3 blocked shots in 11:37. He was also 67% on draws. Productive in his ice time, but that IT was limited because the Lightning know what they have there and the role he's going to be put into. Not a lot of mystery with Angelidis.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 hit and 5 blocked shots in 18:17.
Point was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 16:03. He was also a very nice 71% on draws. The guy has just gotten universal praise by everyone who has seen him in the last half a year or so.
Joel Vermin had 1 blocked shot in 13:55.
Henri Ikonen had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:35.
Mitchell Stephens was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 14:11. It says a lot that they gave him a touch more IT than some of the more established prospects who were in Syracuse last season. They obviously have high hopes for Stephens.
Dylan Blujus had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 19:30. Also hit a crossbar. Nice, well-rounded stat line. Good to see, with a nice chunk of minutes.
Adam Erne was -1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 14:40. Activity is good. Syracuse fans should be excited to get DeAngelo and Erne into the program this season.
Division title in peril.
Adam Wilcox allowed 3 goals on 30 shots for the loss in his professional debut.
SYR Blujus, (3) (Martindale, Gourde), 11:21 (PP)
SPR Tynan, (12) (Pinkston, Vogelhuber), 14:05
SPR Anderson, (7) (Milano, St. Denis), 18:01
SPR Tynan, (13) (Collins, Milano), 12:05 (PP)
Dylan Blujus was the game's third star.
It wasn't surprising the team struggled to score with Jonathan Marchessault on emergency recall to Tampa with Jonathan Drouin under the weather. Losing Marchessault essentially guts the Crunch of the engine that makes their offense go. The good news is Drouin and a slew of other injured Lightning players will be back when the playoffs start next week, so I would expect Marchessault and Witkowski, at a minimum, to be back with the Crunch for the rest of their run this year.
Syracuse's lead in the division slipped to 2 points over Hartford with the loss.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 14 shots for the victory. Not a typo. Light work for the Yak today.
SYR Courtnall, (6) (Blujus, Vermin), 10:25
SPR Adam, (14) (Chaput, Hoeffel), 16:52
SYR Marchessault, (19) (Blujus, Richard), 3:04 (PP)
SYR Gourde, (26) (Ashton, Koekkoek), 19:40 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (18) (Mormina), 14:03
Justin Courtnall continues to look like another Julien BriseBois trash to treasure conversion.
Things get interesting in the next couple of weeks for Syracuse as the amateur ranks yield some ATO opportunities for the Lightning organization. Specifically, Brayden Point could be a prime addition on an ATO for the Crunch, and an early exit from the NCAA tournament could put Matthew Peca in a Crunch jersey very soon, too. Both would be nice additions to a Crunch team in need of more speed and skill, especially up the middle.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Comets streak past Crunch in the Third.
Allen York allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the loss.
SYR Richard, (12) (Dotchin, Blujus), 5:41 (PP)
UTI Baertschi, (11) (Blain, Friesen), 6:54
UTI Conacher, (6) (Andersson, Friesen), 2:00
UTI Shinkaruk, (9) (O'Reilly, Corrado), 4:01
SYR Marchessault, (18) (Richard, Blujus), 15:27 (PP)
UTI Baertschi, (12) (Friesen, Grenier), 19:15 (EN)
Syracuse may have lost the war tonight, but at least the AHL's abbreviation for them isn't an acronym for Urinary Tract Infections. Escalate the rivalry with Grade A scalding rhetoric. It's always good for the soul.
Box score from TheAHL.com.