Syracuse withstands Portland's best punch.
Syracuse Leads the Best-of-Five Series 1-0
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the victory. 2 of those goals were softies on wrap-arounds that Desjardins needs to wipe out of his game quickly moving forward in these playoffs. He scares me. Point blank, the guy scares me.
POR Dziurzynski, (1) (Werek), 10:53
POR Rundblad, (1) (Gormley, Martinook), 17:16 (PP)
SYR Johnson, (1) (Panik, Palat), 6:37 (PP)
POR Brown, (1) (Lane, Miele), 8:23
SYR Barberio, (1) (Palat, Johnson), 13:32 (PP)
SYR Sexton, (1) (Sustr, Devos), 7:54
SYR Panik, (1) (Palat, Johnson), 6:36 (PP)
Richard Panik, Tyler Johnson, and Radko Gudas were the game's three stars. While not terribly visible at even strength, Panik showed great hands around the net on the PP setting up Johnson's goal and outwaiting Portland's netminder on the game winner. Panik attack, y'all.
That, I suspect, was Portland's best chance to seize upset momentum in this series. They got a couple of softies out of Desjardins and had the 2 goal lead on the road with a chance to steal home ice in a short 5-game series. The Crunch kept chipping away at it though and eventually wore out the Pirates, who now may have to go without Boris Valabik for a few games after a vicious elbowing major that led to Panik's winner. Syracuse now just has to make sure Brett Connolly, the recipient of that elbow, is healthy along with Johnson and Mark Barberio, each of whom also got banged up during the game. All three returned to action, so hopefully everything is going to be fine.
As quiet as a 3 assist night can be, I thought Ondrej Palat along with Johnson were Syracuse's best players tonight. Palat also drew three penalties out of Portland on top of his scoresheet production.
Game Two is tomorrow night. We'll see what Portland has in the tank.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Down to one more to go.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 24 shots for the loss.
04:22 BOS Seidenberg (3), (Marchand, Seguin)
13:31 BOS Paille (10), (Campbell, Thornton)
Again, I'm looking for effort and competitiveness in garbage time of the season. The Lightning outshot a very good Boston team 30-24 in the Bruins' barn. They knew they were in a game tonight, and the silver lining of the loss is the Lightning remain in 3rd most ping pong ball position.
Alex Killorn] had 4 shots and 1 hit in 14:30.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 3 hits in 14:11.
Radko Gudas had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:40.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie played 11:20.
Ben Bishop allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory.
17:03 TOR Kessel (17), (Bozak)
05:54 TB Stamkos (29), (Thompson, Carle)
15:48 TB St. Louis (14), (Thompson)
19:36 TOR Lupul (11), (MacArthur, Franson)
03:13 TB Gudas (2), (Purcell, Stamkos)
13:08 TB St. Louis (15), (Aulie, Tyrell)
17:11 TB St. Louis (16), (Lecavalier)(EN)
Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Nate Thompson were the game's three stars. What a treat for the Lightning fans who stuck it out and went to the game to get to witness one of the franchise's greats posting a hatter, and how appropriate he polishes it off from an assist from #4. Hold onto nights like these, Lightning fans.
Luckily, the Lightning are still in third-most-ping-pong-balls position by 1 point, and you love to see W's. Strategically speaking, though, they'll be potentially shooting themselves in the foot if they win either of their last two games. Now, I'm not saying they should lay down, but I do think they need to consider giving a close-up inspection of the ice surface.
Alex Killorn was -2 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 16:33.
Richard Panik was -2 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 14:14. He will be on the way to Syracuse for the playoffs.
Radko Gudas was +2 and blew smoke past Reimer on the slap shot for his goal. 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:35. He will be headed to Syracuse too.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 13:01.
The AHL has announced the schedule for the opening round, best-of-five series in the AHL playoffs. Syracuse, as the 3 seed, will be squaring off with the Portland Pirates, which are the 6 seed. The series will begin Saturday night in Syracuse and proceed under a 2-2-1 format as follows:
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “C” (best-of-5)
3-Syracuse Crunch vs. 6-Portland Pirates
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Portland at Syracuse, 7:30
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Portland at Syracuse, 7:30
Game 3 – Thurs., May 2 – Syracuse at Portland, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 3 – Syracuse at Portland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 5 – Portland at Syracuse, 7:30
Syracuse will be required to submit their playoff roster to the AHL by 3 pm on Monday. Several players currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning may be on that roster including Alex Killorn, Richard Panik, Radko Gudas, Dana Tyrell, Keith Aulie, and/or Pierre-Cedric Labrie. The Lightning's final regular season game is on Saturday night against the Florida Panthers.
Competitive? Check. Strategic? Check.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the loss in his return from a high ankle sprain. I'm going to chalk up his first period performance to rust and compliment him on shutting the door the rest of the way. That's what good goaltenders do after they stub their toes in the opening frame.
00:16 CAR Semin (12), (E. Staal)
10:45 CAR Tlusty (20), (Semin, Corvo)
18:46 CAR Tlusty (21), (E. Staal, Semin)
10:07 TB Stamkos (28), (Salo, St. Louis)(PP)
02:16 TB St. Louis (13), (Lecavalier)
Martin St. Louis was the game's second star.
Again, the big thing for me in garbage time of the season is seeing effort and competitiveness. This string of 1-goal losses may not be the greatest for morale, but they show a team that is still trying and, whether we like to admit it or not, they're helping the Lightning strategically by improving potential draft position. Carolina leapfrogging Tampa Bay now puts the Lightning with the third most ping pong balls, 3 points ahead of Colorado in the standings. And, after 40 minutes, Colorado currently leads in their game 4-2. If they hold on, the Lightning move closer to having the second most ping pong balls.
Why is that important? This is a 3+1 draft, which is to say there are 3 really coveted franchise caliber prospects and 1 wild card (Nichushkin). If the Lightning are in position in the top-3, they might be able to land top defenseman Seth Jones. But, even if they can't, having the opportunity to draft one of the two coveted forwards out of the QMJHL gives the Lightning a lot of flexibility. They could trade the pick for an NHL defenseman. They could hold onto the pick, use it, and trade one of the valuable young forwards they already have for an NHL defenseman. Or, they could trade down and try to extract a king's ransom and take multiple defensemen later in the top-60 in a very deep draft. The world definitely opens up if the Lightning pick in the top-3.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 1 shot in 15:27.
Richard Panik was -1 with 2 penalty minutes and 2 shots in 13:03.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 5 hits in 14:10.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:11.
Another respectable, competitive effort in garbage time of the season.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the loss.
04:04 MTL Galchenyuk (9), (Gallagher, Drewiske)
15:05 MTL Gionta (13), (Plekanec, Pacioretty)
17:36 TB Panik (5), (Hedman, Killorn)(PP)
05:07 TB Lecavalier (10), (Pouliot, Hedman)
19:13 MTL Gionta (14), (Weber, Ryder)
At this stage of the season, I'm looking for effort and competitiveness more so than wins. Baby steps.
With 4 goals and 19 points now in 40 games, we can start to take a peek at what Victor Hedman might be at in an 82 game season. It comes out to a very respectable 8 goal, 39 point season. Bear in mind Hedman's gotten a greener light since Cooper took over behind the bench, which is why I'd expect his scoring pace to pick up.
Alex Killorn had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:08. It's been interesting to see his ice time slowly turned down. Projected over 82 games, Killorn's 7 goals and 19 points in 34 games pro-rates to 17 goals and 46 points. Pretty good rookie numbers.
Richard Panik had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 10:59. That scoring line on his power play goal, being assisted by Killorn and Hedman, was like a telegram from the future. It's a much smaller sample set of 22 games, but his 5 goals and 9 points projects to about 19 goals and 34 points in an 82 game season, which is pretty good given how small his average ice time numbers are. It might be hard to consider holding him off the team next season.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:35.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie played 10:19.
Semi-respectable result in garbage time of the season.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 36 shots but then allowed 2 of 3 to score in the penalty shot for the old SOL.
01:23 WPG Ladd (17), (Wheeler, Little)
10:27 TB St. Louis (12), (unassisted)
08:37 WPG Wheeler (16), (Ladd, Bogosian)
17:54 WPG Ladd (18), (Wheeler, Bogosian)(PP)
05:19 TB Labrie (2), (Thompson, Gudas)
11:17 TB Stamkos (27), (Carle)
WPG- Santorelli, Ladd
Winnipeg should consider themselves extremely fotunate to have survived Tampa Bay's deployment of the secret weapon, P.C. Labrie.
Alex Killorn had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 17:39.
Richard Panik was +1 with 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:56. Interesting to see his ice time nudging up toward Killorn's.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 16:11.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie laid waste to a Pavelec rebound and all in his path for a goal, a +1 rating, 2 shots, and 3 hits in 10:49. If he gave Labrie anymore ice time, Cooper would have to turn himself in for war crimes.
Feel the Nichushkin-mentum.
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss including his obligatory 1 that he'd want back.
04:09 BUF Ennis (10), (Vanek, Ehrhoff)(PP)
08:00 BUF Hecht (4), (Gerbe)
12:37 BUF Porter (4), (Flynn, Ott)
13:30 TB Pouliot (8), (Brewer, Lecavalier)
The Lightning outshot Buffalo 33-22 with most of that coming once they spotted the Sabres the 3 goal lead. I have no idea what sort of weird sports psychology issue makes a team only start playing harder once they fall behind big. It's bizarre. That's something for Jon Cooper to sort out in the offseason. In the meantime, the Lightning will be looking at one of the big three draft prospects or possibly Traktor Chelyabinsk power forward Valery Nichushkin in their future.
Alex Killorn had 3 shots in 20:26.
Richard Panik was -2 with 2 shots and 1 hit. The biggest challenge for a young player isn't proving you can be brilliant as Panik was last night. The biggest challenge is proving you can do it consistently, and Panik was a non-factor tonight.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 5 hits and 2 blocked shots in 17:40.
13:45 WSH Brouwer (16), (Ribiero, Ovechkin)(PP)
18:45 WSH Hillen (2), (Beagle, Oleksy)
19:22 WSH Ovechkin (27), (Backstrom)
02:41 WSH Chimera (2), (Perrault, Oleksy)
03:55 TB Panik (3), (Pyatt, Purcell)
05:26 WSH Fehr (8), (Perreault)
18:47 TB St. Louis (10), (Stamkos, Pouliot)
04:23 TB Panik (4), (Gudas, Aulie)
08:17 TB St. Louis (11), (Hedman, Pyatt)
17:25 TB Purcell (11), (Pyatt, Panik)
02:59 WSH Green (10), (Ribiero, Fehr)(PP)
Richard Panik was the game's third star.
I expected the Lightning to get routed tonight. That's why I spent most of it watching Peca in the Quinnipiac game. And, it pretty much went to plan until all of a sudden the Lightning decided not to lay down. Whatever Jon Cooper said to them, they had the hearts of lions in the Third Period and to start Overtime. It's a shame one bad defensive play (Matt Carle) got them in the box and they lose on a 4-on-3 situation. Still, you have to like the show of character.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 4 shots and 1 hit in 20:14.
Panik went insane with 2 goals, 1 assist, and a +4 rating. 4 shots and 4 hits too in 15:32. He's got this kind of ability, folks. He's a beast when it comes together.
Radko Gudas had a helper, 1 shot, and 4 hits in 17:14.
Like Lou Rawls said, "Love is a hurtin' thing."
Ben Bishop allowed 6 goals on 45 shots for the loss. Guessing he's out of gas after spending much of the year in a deep goaltending rotation.
04:07 PIT Jokinen (8), (Morrow, Dupuis)
06:02 PIT Dupuis (20), (Kennedy, Niskanen)(PP)
16:00 TB Purcell (9), (Stamkos, Salo)(PP)
01:48 PIT Kunitz (21), (Iginla, Letang)(PP)
05:46 TB Connolly (1), (Panik, Killorn)
01:24 PIT Malkin (8), (unassisted)
04:45 PIT Jokinen (9), (Murray, Dupuis)
16:40 PIT Glass (1), (Jokinen, Iginla)(PP)
19:42 TB Purcell (10), (St. Louis, Carle)(PP)
I actually thought the Lightning set themselves up well to pull the upset heading into the Third Period, but after Bishop allowed the soft goal to Malkin the wheels started to come off. It's time to face facts, Steve Yzerman pulled the trigger on Boucher about 1 month too late to give Cooper the time he needed to turn this season around. The good news is that most, not all, but most of the Syracuse kids played decent games against the Pittsburgh machine tonight. That bodes well for next season.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 16:47. I wish he didn't play so tentative. Would've loved for him to score and then punch Pierre McGuire in the mush whilst explaining, "Learn to pronounce my name baldy." He was named a Second Team AHL All-Star today.
Alex Killorn had a helper but was -2 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 17:31. He's been logging a ton of ice time lately and I wonder if he's hitting a bit of a rookie wall.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 12:29. Looked darned good with the puck on his stick. Looked fast and dangerous. He was also named a First Team AHL All-Star today.
Richard Panik had a helper and was -1 with 3 hits in 11:36. He had the primary helper on Connolly's beautiful tic-tac-toe goal. Connolly was named a Second Team AHL All-Star today, by the way.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 16 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:43. He's getting caught up ice too much. I like the effort level and toughness, but he needs to clean up some of his decision making.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 9:31.
Time to start sending the kids back to Syracuse for the playoffs. With the roster they have right now, the Crunch are in danger of a first round upset. It's too valuable a developmental opportunity and the NHL season is lost. Put Pouliot and Pyatt back in and send a couple key players down. It's the shrewd thing to do.