While Dylan Blujus broke through for his first goal last week, his real strides have come in his own zone.
With an increase in ice time due to injuries and call-ups, the defenseman has started to find his groove with the Syracuse Crunch. Head coach Rob Zettler has seen steady progress in Blujus' game since he made his professional debut nearly three months ago.
"I would say over the last month, (Blujus) has been a much better defenseman, meaning he's going back for pucks more confidently and he's not as prone to get rid of pucks as quickly," Zettler said of the Buffalo native. "The beginning of the year, he'd get back and rim it around the boards and it would [cause] a cluster in our end for a little while because of it. He's just being a little bit more patient with the puck and smarter with the puck."
Blujus, Vasilevskiy can't hold off the Pack.
Anrei Vasilevskiy allowed 3 goals on 38 shots for the OT loss. He almost helped Syracuse overcome what ended up being a 38-26 shot deficit.
HFD C. Bourque, (15) (Kostka, Lindberg), 12:00 (PP)
HFD O'Donnell, (2) (Nehring, Spinell), 2:58
SYR Ikonen, (3) (Vermin, Angelidis), 3:56
SYR Blujus, (1) (Namestnikov), 3:58 (PP)
HFD McIlrath, (1) (Hrivik, Kristo), 2:34
Congratulations to Dylan Blujus, who scored his first pro goal on the PP to tie the game at 2-2 and eventually force OT. Blujuspalooza!
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The Gourde and Richard Show rolls on.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 22 shots and stopped 2 of 3 in the penalty shot session for the SO win.
ALB Timmins, (5) (Thompson), 1:06
SYR Gourde, (3) , 4:49
SYR Vermin, (4) (Dotchin, Marchessault), 2:52
ALB Sestito, (3) (Scarlett), 2:44
SYR- Gourde, Richard
Joel Vermin and Tanner Richard were the game's first and third stars. After posting just 1 point in 8 games in the month of October, Yanni Gourde had 3 goals and 6 points in 5 games in November. Richard, who faced the same futility at the scoresheet in October, has 2 goals and 5 points in 5 games this month, and obviously had the shootout winner tonight.
I also remain pleasantly surprised by the production of some of the Lightning's middle-tier rookie blueliners. Both Dylan Blujus and Jake Dotchin continue to hover around a half a point a game and are on the plus side of the ledger for the year.
With the win, Syracuse climbs into 8th place in the Eastern Conference, just 2 points back of division leaders Hartford and Bridgeport. Syracuse faces Hershey next on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Legends were born tonight in Syracuse, New York.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 2 goals on 29 shots for his first professional victory in North America.
SYR Marchessault, (1) (Cote, Blujus), 8:44
SPR Tyrell, (1) (Madaisky, Sedlak), 15:45
SPR Monardo, (1) (Sifers, Madaisky), 3:53
SYR Paquette, (3) (Marchessault, Kunyk), 18:51
SYR Drouin, (1) , 7:18
I envy the folks who were in the arena tonight. Not only did they get to witness the first North American pro win by Vasilevskiy, but the first pro point by one of the truly great young players in the game. A future immortal. A young man who needs no introduction. 50 years ago when they recount this night to their grandchildren, and they will, they'll speak his name with the hushed reverence it deserves...
But, seriously. We love Blujus here at Bolt Prospects, and we love Vasilevskiy, but all that was overshadowed by the professional debut of Jonathan Drouin, who lived up to his billing. He was +3. He was dangerous all night in helping to tilt the ice in Syracuse's favor. And, of course, he scored the game winner on a partial break that began with a quick little defensive play in his own end and was completed with a top shelf, cookie jar breaking shot.
Syracuse gets Binghamton tomorrow night as the Jonny (Jouer au) Hockey road show continues on its short run in the AHL.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Two games into his professional career, Dylan Blujus is showing he belongs in the AHL.
The 20-year-old defenseman made his pro debut with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday against Springfield, and over two games last weekend had an even plus-minus rating with six shots.
"It went pretty well, just getting that first pro game under my belt felt nice," Blujus said. "Get the nerves out early, now I can start playing my game and start making plays."
Despite a few expected hiccups, Crunch coach Rob Zettler was impressed with the puck movement by each of his rookie defensemen.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed defenseman Dylan Blujus to a three-year entry-level contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Blujus, 20, skated in 55 games with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League during the 2013-14 season, collecting four goals and 30 points to go along with 56 penalty minutes. He led all Battalion defensemen for assists with 26. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman also skated in 22 playoff games for North Bay, posting four goals and 10 points. Blujus led all North Bay defensemen for playoff goals, with three of his four tallies coming on the man-advantage. He helped guide the Battalion to the OHL Championships against the Guelph Storm.
The Buffalo, New York native has played in 256 career OHL games over four seasons with Brampton and North Bay, amassing 17 goals and 119 points. He recorded a career-best plus-12 rating in 2013-14.
Ten questions for this year's Lightning prospect season...
Apologies for the delayed observations but personal circumstances have necessitated a combined summary of impressions from several days I attended.
The bulk of the following observations stem from last Wednesday's 3-on-3 tournament action (I was unable to make it Tuesday) although some does come from the on-ice sessions last Sunday and Monday. Here are some thoughts on a limited number of camp participants, from those I went out of my way to watch and those my eyes kept being drawn to:
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 19 is … Dylan Blujus, D, Brampton (OHL – Canada).
For years Lightning prospect followers have pounded their fists on their computer tables in demand of a right-handed defenseman capable of impacting a game at both ends of the ice. They got their wish last June when the Bolts selected Brampton (OHL) defenseman Dylan Blujus in the second round (40th overall).
Blujus had just completed a 34-point season with the Battalion and was a prime candidate for a breakout season offensively in 2012-2013.
That hasn’t exactly happened for the young Amherst, New York, native, as he just finished his third OHL season with fewer goals and points than his second season despite playing more games. Not everything shows up on the stat sheet, obviously, and Blujus has further developed his physical game while playing big minutes for a defense-first club.
Ontario Hockey League
Peterborough Petes 2 @ Brampton Battalion 5
D Dylan Blujus, BRAM: 0-2-2, +2, 0 PIM, *First Star*
Season totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
Blujus had two assists for the second time this week, helping the Battalion to a regular season-ending 5-2 win over the Petes. The 2012 second rounder was named first star for his efforts. He finishes the regular season with a new career high in penalty minutes. He tied his career high for assists in a season with 27. Fourth-seeded Brampton will play No. 5 Sudbury in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.