Namestnikov, Vladislav

Namestnikov Elevating Game In Postseason


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Vladislav Namestnikov dipped his shoulder, turned the corner on the defenseman and drove right to the net.

The Crunch forward plowed through Springfield Falcons goalie Curtis McElhinney, creating a rebound for Mark Barberio to bury less than a second later to give Syracuse a two-goal lead in the fourth game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last week. It was Namestnikov’s first of two assists on the night, his first professional postseason points.

"Not a lot of players make that play," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "A lot of players go behind the net instead of going to the front of the net. He's got the courage and the speed to make those plays."

For Zettler, it’s just one example of the recent development in Namestnikov’s game.

"Over the last two or three weeks, his play has really elevated," Zettler said of the 20-year-old. "He's really skating well, he's battling for pucks and going to the hard areas."

AHL Playoff Game Night: 4-28-13 Pirates at Crunch

Game Two goes according to plan.

POR-2
SYR-4

Syracuse Leads the Best-of-Five Series 2-0

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 20 shots for the victory. He looked much more solid tonight in net. The team needs him to play like that moving forward if they want to reach their ultimate goal.

First Period
SYR Palat, (1) (Johnson, Taormina), 9:33
SYR Brown, (1) (Angelidis, Wyman), 10:41

Second Period
SYR Johnson, (2) (Palat), 0:49 (SH)
SYR Connolly, (1) (Sexton, Devos), 14:36
POR Gormley, (1) (Shinnimin, Johnson), 16:50

Third Period
POR Johnson, (1) (Lessio, Gormley), 9:40

Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Matt Taormina were the game's three stars.

I continue to be extremely impressed by Palat. He's been the complete package through 2 games in this series. Just like last season, good things happen when the man has the puck. I was also impressed with Vladislav Namestnikov, who got a lot more ice time with Richard Panik getting kicked out after a secondary altercation. Portland tried targeting Namestnikov, and Vladdy rose to the challenge. He was feisty and he landed some good hits in the Third Period, to go along with his usual puckhandling and playmaking.

Game Three is Thursday in Portland. This is where Zettler's going to earn his big boy coaching pants. Portland's going to throw everything they have left at Syracuse in the First Period, and if Syracuse is complacent, bad things will happen. Playoffs are about attrition as much as anything, and if you have a chance to finish an opponent off, you do it. Anything that extends a series is another set of shifts where one of your key players can get hurt, so you have to finish the drill ASAP, and with Providence falling behind 2-0 in their series and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton up 2-0 in theirs, it's looking like a very good Pens team is lurking on the horizon. Syracuse wants to be healthy and rested for that potential opponent.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-23-13 Devils at Crunch

Still hanging onto first place.

ALB-1
SYR-3

Riku Helenius allowed 1 goal on 28 shots for the victory. He came within 54 seconds of a shutout before Albany's power play goal. Still, with the effort tonight, Helenius has finally managed to get his save percentage back to .900 for the season. He had a good February and is having a good March, which the Lightning have to hope leads to a good Option B for Syracuse come playoff time.

First Period
SYR Namestnikov, (5) (Gauthier, Jacques), 13:39
SYR Sexton, (6) (Wyman), 14:25

Second Period
SYR Brown, (10) (Wyman, Sexton), 14:00

Third Period
ALB Anderson, (13) (Whitney, Gelinas), 19:06 (PP)

Dan Sexton, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Helenius were the game's three stars. Namestnikov's strong play in March also has to have the Lightning extremely happy. We at the website can't wait to see him and Nikita Kucherov lined up together, which could happen this season depending on how the QMJHL playoffs go.

With Providence going down to Worcester, Syracuse holds a 2 point lead on Binghamton for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Springfield and Providence lag by 3 points. Syracuse gets Rochester next on Wednesday, and with just 11 games left in the regular season every point matters from here on out, as it could be the difference between being 1 seed or a 4 seed.

6 of Syracuse's remaining 11 games are at home, including a nice 5 game homestand to close out the regular season. Also, 6 of the 11 games are against teams that currently would not make the playoffs, although the team they have the most games left with, ironically Norfolk, is just 2 points out of 8th in the East.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-16-13 Devils at Crunch

Jon Cooper? Still Jedi.

ALB-2
SYR-6

Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 30 shots for the victory.

First Period
SYR Connolly, (25) (Namestnikov, Devos), 6:08
SYR Cote, (2) (Angelidis, Nightingale), 6:38
SYR Panik, (22) (Connolly, Sexton), 10:38 (PP)

Second Period
SYR Brown, (9) (Angelidis, Mikkelson), 7:22
SYR Devos, (4) (Connolly, Namestnikov), 9:11
SYR Connolly, (26) (Barberio, Oberg), 9:57 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Kelly, (2) (Wohlberg), 8:00
ALB Whitney, (22) (Zalewski, Anderson), 12:38

Brett Connolly, Vladislav Namestnikov, and J.P Cote were the game's three stars.

With Tyler Johnson up in Tampa, Connolly becomes the Crunch's hope for hardware and plaudits. He currently sits in 3rd in the league in scoring, 4 points back of Grand Rapids' Gustav Nyquist. His 26 goals are also now tied for 5th is the AHL.

Vladdy Namestnikov continuing to play well continues to bode very well for the future.

As good a coaching job as Jon Cooper did last season, if he wins the Eastern Conference and even manages to post the best record in the AHL this season, it'll be an even more amazing job. It's hard to believe that with half of his team's core torturing the Carolina Hurricanes in Tampa, Cooper's team still managed to fly out to a 6-0 lead in Albany. He's a special coach. I can't say anything more and still do it justice.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 3-15-13 Admirals at Crunch

Shootout in Syracuse.

NOR-4
SYR-3 (SO)

Cedrick Desjardins was back with the Crunch tonight and stopped 34 of 37 before allowing 1 of 4 to convert in the shootout session to take the SO Loss.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Namestnikov, (4) (Devos, Barberio), 1:43
NOR Wilson, (6) (Brittain, Guenin), 5:55
NOR Wagner, (5) , 11:14

Third Period
NOR Brittain, (10) (Clark, Lindholm), 6:23
SYR Nightingale, (2) (Angelidis, Namestnikov), 7:19
SYR Angelidis, (10) (Taormina, Barberio), 19:40

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
NOR- Brittain
SYR- NONE

Mike Angelidis and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's first and second stars.

I guess tonight was the first time you could honestly say this Syracuse roster was nearly unrecognizable compared to the team the organization has iced much of the last 2 years. No more Conacher or Johnson or Palat. No more Gudas on the backline. Tokarski traded.

All that said, it's a hopeful sign the team was competitive tonight and that one of the next wave, Vlad Namestnikov, stepped up in an expanded role. That's the way it's going to have to be the rest of the way with the Lightning floundering and so many of the veteran prospects getting their chance in Tampa Bay.

The Crunch face Albany tomorrow. Syracuse holds a 3 point edge in the Eastern Conference with the Crunch holding a 2 point edge of Binghamton and a 3 point edge on Springfield and Providence.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

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