The Lightning's season is circling the drain.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 4 goals on 44 shots for the loss. He was markedly better today than his past couple of starts, but unfortunately he didn't get much support in front of him as the Lightning got outpossessed and outplayed at the skater positions.
5:34 TB Kucherov (16), (Namestnikov, Nesterov)
1:11 PHI Konecny (6), (Voracek, MacDonald)
8:42 PHI Couturier (7), (Provorov, Voracek)
9:51 PHI Raffl (8), (Giroux, Schultz)
16:44 TB Killorn (13), (Nesterov, Drouin)
17:41 PHI Gudas (2), (Schenn)
The Lightning just got whipped today. They got outshot 44-26 and the score reflected it. They simply played a flat game, lost most every 50/50 puck, and their passing was awful in all three zones. There's no excuse for this team to play this flat, given that they should be fighting for the playoff lives at the moment. We're getting very near to a point of no return from which the Lightning simply won't have a realistic chance to get back into it in the standings. You'd think you'd see the urgency because of that. Nope. This team, after two and a half years of heavy lifting, just looks out of gas. There's consequences (big roster changes) that come with that if that happens to be the case.
Luke Witkowski was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:29. I thought he played a really nice game this afternoon.
Matthew Peca was -2 in 13:07. He made a pretty horrendous turnover to Voracek at the end of the First Period that Vasilevskiy bailed him out of. Beyond that, it was his second straight subpar outing. He's probably not much longer for the NHL on this callup stint if this keeps up.
Adam Erne had 3 shots and 3 hits in 8:36. He played another nice game today. He had some big hits, stole the puck to create a scoring chance for a teammate in the offensive zone on another play, and drew a penalty getting hooked on a breakaway on another play. He was one of the few Lightning players who looked like he had energy today.
Awful goaltending hands Lightning failure.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 18 shots for the loss. Three of those goals were of the awful variety, and the third goal, which came as the Lightning were mounting a push to try to knot the game at 2-2, was an absolute back breaker. Hockey is a frustrating, terrible sport when you're the victim of bad goaltending and your team has to work five times harder to get a goal, which is what happened tonight.
2:25 NSH Fisher (11), (Johansen, Ekholm)(PP)
3:56 NSH Forsberg (9), (Fiala, Johansen)
6:12 TB Johnson (12), (Hedman, Killorn)
13:21 NSH Sissons (3), (Fisher)
14:04 NSH Ellis (5), (Wilson, Arvidsson)
14:02 NSH Sissons (4), (Jarnkrok)(EN)
17:00 NSH Sissons (5), (Jarnkrok, Bitetto)
The Lightning actually had a decent night in terms of raw puck possession stats. It wasn't equaling a ton of scoring chances, but the game was not nearly the lopsided disaster the score indicates... except that the goaltending was terrible. That's been the biggest difference between this Lightning team and those of the recent past. Even when Bishop was healthy earlier this year the Lightning were not getting consistent goaltending. They have to hope and pray when he returns that he will re-find some of his Vezina candidate caliber form. Without it, they haven't got a prayer.
The Lightning failed to get 12 points for a second 10-game segment of the year, getting just 10 points in this one after managing just 7 points the previous segment. At the roughly midway point of the campaign, they're a full 6 points off comfortable playoff pace, meaning they'll have to play at least .675 hockey the rest of the way to get there safely. That's not impossible, but it's incredibly difficult and pretty much a fool's errand to try without good goaltending.
Slater Koekkoek was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:29.
Matthew Peca was -2 with 2 hits in 11:17. He was also 56% on 9 draws. This was the first night of his NHL stint that he wasn't really a noticable positive in the lineup.
Adam Erne was -2 with 1 shot and 6 hits in 14:59. He continues to look the part and made a swooping power forward move off the right wing that was a bright spot in a fairly abysmal night.
Lightning crumble under Jets forecheck.
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 33 shots for the loss. He made a lot of big saves on odd man rushes and breakaways, but at the end of the day his 4th goal allowed to Byfuglien, which was extremely soft, ended up being the critical margin (empty netter excluded) as soft goals often are.
7:25 WPF Scheifele (16), (Laine, Enstrom)(PP)
3:43 TB Peca (1), (Namestnikov, Killorn)
4:30 WPG Ehlers (11), (unassisted)(PS)
5:19 WPG Trouba (2), (Perrault, Wheeler)
14:44 WPG Byfuglien (5), (Morrissey, Wheeler)
3:26 TB Palat (7), (Johnson, Kucherov)
9:28 WPG Ehlers (12), (Laine, Trouba)
12:22 TB Kucherov (14), (Johnson, Hedman)(PP)
17:29 TB Kucherov (15), (Hedman, Drouin)(PP)
18:37 WPG Laine (20), (Scheifele, Ehlers)(EN)
Nikita Kucherov was the game's second star.
The Lightning were by far and away the better team in this game for the first 24 minutes of hockey before the bottom dropped out. The other 36 minutes were absolutely embarrassing as Winnipeg's forecheck ran roughshod over Tampa Bay and revealed a lot of coverage and puck moving mistakes. It's disappointing.
The Lightning now must defeat Nashville in the segment four finale to avoid digging their season playoff pace deficit of 4 points any deeper. This Winnipeg game was very winnable on paper and would've given the team a chance to trim their deficit. Now there's a very real possibility the hole will be even deeper at the season's midway point, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. I mean, I could complain about the dubious nature of the Ehlers penalty shot goal given it wasn't really a clear breakaway and more of a partial break, in my view, but I can't muster outrage against the refs considering the team allowed themselves to get run over the rest of the night.
Slater Koekkoek had 1 blocked shot in 13:57. His lack of development this season has been an unfortunate impediment for the team. They desperately could use a big, consistent, mobile puck mover. Koekkoek has all the athletic tools to be that, but it just hasn't settled down and come together for him yet.
Matthew Peca scored his first NHL goal and 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 13:33. He was also 50% on 10 draws. His goal showed off one of his strengths coming up from the NCAA out of Quinnipiac. He's very dangerous off the rush and his wrister coming in off the wing for the score was beautiful. I say it again: he's really helped replace a lot of what the team could have lost with the Point injury.
Adam Erne was -1 with 1 shot and 4 hits in 12:03. He had a very impressive debut despite the inauspicious stat line. Clearly, you can see the athletic gifts he brings to the game. He's a very good skater for such a big game with a surprisingly strong, swooping stride, and he's a very good offensive player from the hashmarks down. He had a chance on a rebound he overskated and nearly set up Bournival for a goal on a nice move peeling out of the corner but was a little off on his pass. He's going to be an NHL'er. There's little doubt of that. You could see that in tonight's game. The question is whether he can put all of his gifts together consistently to becoming a scoring line contributor.
Bingo's goaltender thieves a win.
Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 22 shots before conceding to 1 of 2 in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
6:25 BNG Rodewald (9), (Varone, Kostka)(PP)
16:06 SYR Dumont (5), (unassisted)
5:54 SYR Comrie (3), (Taormina, Erne)(PP)
19:23 BNG Robinson (6), (Perron, Paul)
Adam Erne was the game's second star.
Syracuse outshot Binghamton 39-22 in the game, but Senators netminder Chris Driedger turned aside 37 shots to pilfer the result.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Adam Erne had a hand in every Syracuse goal, but the Crunch came up short.
The Syracuse forward netted a pair of goals and assists for his first four-point night as a pro, but the depleted Crunch fell to the Hartford Wolf Pack, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.
Three of the Crunch’s six leading scorers are on recall to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Obviously, we want to win hockey games regardless of the lineup,” Erne said. “I don’t think that’s really an excuse for us. I think we need to find a way to win these games.”
Frantic Syracuse comeback falls just short.
Adam Wilcox allowed 5 goals on 24 shots for the loss. With Ben Bishop potentially injured for the long term and Gudlevskis up in Tampa Bay, Syracuse's crease belongs to Wilcox now. We'll see how he handles the challenge.
16:08 SYR Erne (7), (Peca)
19:42 HFD Graves (4), (Joly, Jensen)
2:58 HFD Tambellini (5), (Fontaine, Kampfer)(PP)
6:21 HFD Bodie (6), (Oksanen, McPherson)
7:48 SYR Hart (3), (Erne)
17:28 HFD Oksanen (2), (Bodie, McRae)
1:01 SYR Erne (8), (Taormina)
2:11 HFD Fontaine (4), (Nieves)
4:00 SYR Walcott (1), (Gourde, Erne)
Adam Erne and Brian Hart were the game's first and third stars. Erne's 4 point night moves him to 5 goals and 10 points in 9 games in the month of December. An afterthought for much of the past few seasons, the former 2nd round pick Hart now has 3 goals and 4 points in the past 5 games. Two young power forwards starting to make a little progress, at least on the scoresheet, is a positive thing.
Syracuse's North Division lead has now shrunk to 2 points, although the Crunch still hold a couple of games in hand on Albany.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch top Devils in key 4 point game atop the division standings.
Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.
8:08 ALB Quenneville (8), (Mandat)
14:07 SYR Richard (7), (Condra, Dotchin)
11:04 ALB Coleman (6), (Pietila)
5:42 SYR Erne (6), (Peca, Thomas)(PP)
14:36 SYR Gourde (7), (Dotchin, Condra)
18:42 SYR Condra (5), (Gourde, Dotchin)(EN)
Yanni Gourde, Adam Erne, and Jake Dotchin were the game's three stars. Dotchin with assists in triplicate is making waves at right side defense with Witkowski shuttling back and forth to the big club and Blujus out injured.
Syracuse pulls 3 points clear atop the North Division.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Syracuse puts on a clinic.
Adam Wilcox stopped all 25 shots he faced for the win and his first professional shutout.
4:17 SYR Morin (3), (Taormina, Richard)(PP)
5:32 SYR Condra (4), (Dotchin, Taormina)
10:02 SYR Erne (4), (Taormina, Condra)
14:39 SYR Erne (5), (Gourde, Condra)(EN)
Adam Erne snapped a 7 game goal drought with a pair of markers tonight, as well.
A coach's dream is when his team builds a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes, puts it on lockdown in the Third Period, and then adds an EN goal just to rub salt in the wound. That's how you draw it up.
With the win, at this moment, Syracuse finally has overtaken Albany for first place in the North Division and sits 4 points back of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Bridgeport for tops in the Eastern Conference, with games in hand on each of those teams (2 in Bridgeport's case).
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Crunch put up a touchdown and an extra point.
Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 31 shots while drinking from the cool, clear waters of sweet, sweet goal support for the win.
2:46 SYR Peca (4), (Condra, Walcott)
12:07 RCH Geiger (1), (Nylander, Muzito-Bagenda)
17:04 SYR Richard (1), (Conacher, Gourde)
5:09 SYR Gourde (4), (Morin, Masin)
19:00 SYR Vermin (3), (Conacher, Taormina)(PP)
9:04 RCH Muzito-Bagenda (2), (Strachan, Rodrigues)
12:28 SYR Erne (3), (Morin, Peca)
13:34 SYR Richard (2), (Conacher, Gourde)
19:36 SYR Richard (3), (Condra, Bournival)
Tanner Richard, Yanni Gourde, and Matthew Peca were the game's three stars. All hail Tanner Richard, your Dark Swiss Overlord of Garbage Time Hat Tricks. After a less than stellar training camp and difficult start to the season. Richard now has points in consecutive games and hopefully will take off from here. Also good to see youngsters like Peca and Adam Erne find the scoresheet. This is a veteran dominated team, but these talented youngsters are the ones who are going to push this team over the top. Also, congratulations to defenseman Dominik Masin on his first pro point.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The new AHL website is bad, and they should feel bad.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the victory. Life is good when you have low shot totals to face and sweet, sweet goal support.
3:55 SYR Erne (1), (Blujus, Peca)(PP)
13:01 SYR McGinn (1), (Erne, Witkowski)
17:05 SYR Vermin (1), (Conacher, Dumont)
17:27 SYR Bournival, (Dumont, Dotchin)
6:55 RCH Bailey (1), (Fedun)
Syracuse's depth at forward this season is obscene, on paper, and it will only get better when Ryan Callahan gets healthy and (possibly/probably) pushes young Brayden Point down to the Crunch to learn to play center as a pro. With that in mind, Syracuse's ceiling this year may be defined by if/when the Lightning resolve their goaltending situation up top, and if/when Gudlevskis moves up because of it. Syracuse is likely to have everything else, so they just need the goaltending to potentially make an epic run this year.
Box score from TheAHL.com.