Sloppy, but effective.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 32 shots for the victory. Ultimately, I thought he was the big differences in the game, as Vancouver got a rather pedestrian effort from Lack at the other end.
0:53 TB Stamkos (4), (Palat)
7:15 VAN Higgins (1), (Bonino, Edler)
8:26 TB Stamkos (5), (Callahan, Palat)
2:42 VAN Edler (1), (D. Sedin, Bieksa)(PP)
16:48 TB Callahan (3), (Stamkos, Garrison)(PP)
6:04 TB Killorn (2), (Johnson, Stralman)
On the surface, a 4-2 win in Vancouver looks sweet as sugar, but anyone who watched the game or looks deeper in the stats can see the Lightning's play was closer to another word that starts with the letter "s". They got away with playing pond hockey in the First Period and spending most of the Second Period in the box because they've got an elite goaltender (thank goodness). Out of necessity, with Hedman out with an upper body injury and only 5 defensemen, I thought they settled into a more efficient game in the Third Period, but fatigue and Vancouver's urgency tilted the ice in the Canucks' favor where, again, Bishop had to be on his game. That effort tonight might get you points in places like Calgary and Edmonton later in this trip, but if they put that on the ice against a team like Minnesota, they're going to get blown out.
With Hedman's injury, with the big Swede out for at least the rest of this trip, it's my sincere hope that A.) Radko Gudas gets back in the lineup quickly, and B.) Cooper starts to dress 7 D playing both Gudas and Barberio to thin out the ice time, and C.) If he does so, Connolly gets out of the lineup. I've watched Cooper bench an AHL MVP, Cory Conacher, for taking too many minor penalties and hurting his team. I've watched him bench Alex Killorn, one of his best rookies, for the same thing. Connolly is becoming maddening in that respect, and it's because he's got a bad habit of not moving his feet. He's a half step out of the play too often and that means he's reaching. And, when you're reaching, you're taking penalties. The offensive zone penalty he took tonight in the Third Period took a Lightning team that was playing fairly under control with a lead and scrambled them for the rest of the final frame. Unacceptable. When Jonathan Drouin comes back from Syracuse, I know whose spot in the lineup he needs to take, and it's not old man Brendan Morrow's. Morrow had 5 hits tonight, including 1 that saved a goal, and drew a penalty. Given the choice between getting that 10 minutes from Morrow or the 10 minutes the Lightning got from Connolly, sign me up for Team Brendan. Seriously, that's what Connolly puts out in front of the home province? That?
Vladislav Namestnikov had 1 shot and was 60% on draws in 8:30. In a tight game against a team that has a fair number of talented veterans, Coach Cooper seemed to be hiding his kid line a bit. Can't say I blame him entirely.
Crunch's stars help pull out big victory over Bingo.
Kristers Gudlevskis had an excellent night allowing just 2 goals on 45 shots for the victory. Both defenses were porous, but Gudlevskis outdueled his counterpart at the opposite end of the rink.
BNG Schneider, (1) (Prince, Wideman), 3:58
SYR Marchessault, (2) (Paquette, Drouin), 5:19
SYR Vermin, (1) (Blunden), 5:44
BNG Puempel, (1) (Johnson, Schneider), 8:51 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (2) (Vermin, Kunyk), 13:20
SYR Corrente, (1) (Paquette, Drouin), 14:30
Mike Blunden, Jonathan Drouin, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. Drouin had 2 helpers and a game high 7 shots on goal. The current plan appears to be for Drouin to remain with the Crunch through next weekend before he rejoins the Lightning.
Syracuse travels to Worcester to play the Sharks next 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.
Jonathan Drouin chipped the puck past the defenseman, rushed down the ice and wristed the puck into the top right corner.
Drouin, the Tampa Bay Lightning's third overall pick in 2013, netted the game-winning goal in the third period of his professional debut to lift the Syracuse Crunch to a 3-2 victory over the Springfield Falcons at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"I tried some passes today and they didn't go through," Drouin said. "I decided to shoot that one, and I'm pretty happy it went in."
Drouin, on a rehab assignment after sustaining a slight fracture in his right hand during training camp, was on the ice for all three Crunch goals.
"Those guys are easy to play with," Drouin said of his linemates. "(Jonathan) Marchessault is fast and (Cedric Paquette) thinks the game well."
Closing arguments for the Lightning's young forwards.
Ben Bishop looked to be in midseason form allowing 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. Florida was clearly embarrassed in their last outing and for getting blitzed in the First Period again tonight. They were out for redemption, but Bishop was having none of it.
3:21 FLA Barkov (1), (Campbell, Kulikov)(PP)
5:46 TB Kucherov (1), (unassisted)
10:21 TB Stamkos (1), (Hedman, Callahan)(PP)
18:59 TB Brown (1), (Boyle)
4:40 TB Stralman (1), (Johnson, Killorn)(PP)
Now the Lightning's brass will convene for the difficult decision of shaping the team's 23-man roster for opening night. They likely have a little more breathing room with the option of putting Jonathan Drouin on short-term IR and giving him a brief conditioning stint in the AHL when he gets off it, but the numbers game still is a difficult one. Mind you, they may have tipped their hand by putting Vladislav Namestnikov in the lineup tonight ahead of Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Marchessault, but we shall see.
Two things I feel very confident about after this preseason, though: 1.) Andrej Sustr and I will always have difficulty finding shirts with the proper sleeve length, and 2.) Jon Cooper will be drinking a fine, very old scotch out of the Governor's Cup by season's end. Book it.
Box score from NHL.com.