Artem Sergeev saw his opportunity and responded.
With three significant injuries to the Crunch blueline, Sergeev has thrived with increased ice time. The 20-year-old rookie defenseman has averaged close to 20 minutes a night and played in all situations, as Syracuse has gone 4-2 to snap out of a recent slide.
For Syracuse Crunch coach Rob Zettler, Sergeev has elevated his play in the last few weeks.
"I've really liked his physical play," Zettler said. "He's been smart. He uses his body well. He's a big, thick guy and he's strong. He's starting to understand how he can best use it to his advantage, and he's done that lately."
Ten questions for this year's Lightning prospect season...
The most impressive win of the preseason.
7:31 TB Sergeev, (Filppula )(PP)
15:25 STL Steen, (Backes)
14:10 TB Connolly, (Filppula, Killorn)
15:12 STL Shattock, (unassisted)
15:59 TB Palat, (Johnson, Panik)
05:39 TB Labrie, (Filppula , Brewer)
07:28 STL Oshie, (Bouwmeester)
You don't want to overblow the importance of this game. It was, after all, a preseason game. But, in fairness, St. Louis pretty much iced their NHL side and the Lightning iced their third and fourth lines and a whole lot of prospect defensemen. To pull off the victory is an impressive case of a team fighting above its weight class, and at 3-0-0 so far in the preseason we're seeing, perhaps, that a different culture is rising up.
If you follow the ice time tonight, it was Mark Barberio's big showcase, garnering 22:22 in the match to lead all Lightning defensemen. Barberio was even on the night against, pretty much, the top weapons of a pretty good playoff team, so that's not a bad showing on paper for the young d-man. It's probably the minimum he needed to make sure he kept the upper hand in the fight for one of the last 2 defenseman spots on the roster. Artem Sergeev, surprisingly, also topped the 20 minute mark at 20:24, besting both of his Eastern European Soul Machine bandmates, Dmitry Korobov and the soulful Andrej Sustr.
Up front, the Lightning again got production and solid play from Brett Connolly, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Richard Panik. These four, honestly, may be giving the Lightning the luxury of being able to take their time with young Jonathan Drouin. And, certainly, the Lightning have to be pleased with their $5M per investment, Filppula, getting helpers in triplicate against what really amounts to the Blues' opening night d-corps and goaltender.
Box score from Tampabaylightning.com.
Get away day at War Memorial.
Pat Nagle allowed 5 goals on 37 shots for the loss. That was Nagle's second appearance of his AHL career and his first decision as the Crunch threw out a B lineup and B effort with nothing much to play for in the last regular season game.
BNG Cowick, (16) (Grant, Schneider), 14:13
BNG Grant, (19) (Wideman), 1:56
BNG Ceci, (1) (Da Costa, Stone), 4:28
SYR Sustr, (2) (Barberio, Sexton), 6:47 (PP)
BNG Schneider, (17) (Cowick), 12:13
BNG Robinson, (2) (Cannone), 19:17
Dan Sexton was the game's third star.
With Portland getting thumped by Bridgeport 4-1, Syracuse's first round opponent is now set. The third seeded Crunch will draw the sixth seeded Pirates. To be honest, if I had to pick an opponent, Portland's not the scariest one on the board. When you look at their lineup, they have some nice defensemen but lack scoring depth up front and, above all, their goaltending doesn't really terrify you. This first round series may be the toughest one for Syracuse to get past, so I am fairly relieved they didn't draw a team like Wilkes-Barre/Scranton right away.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Val-d’Or Foreurs 5 @ Baie-Comeau Drakkar 4
D Artem Sergeev, VDO: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 1 SOG, 1 Hit
Season totals: 45 GP, 6-25-31, +18, 51 PIM
Sergeev was back after missing Saturday’s game due to a brief suspension. He was scoreless, but his teammates netted three goals in a decisive third period to win, 5-4. Former Lightning prospect camper Brandon Hynes had two goals and two assists for the Foreurs.
Ontario Hockey League
Barrie Colts 3 @ Brampton Battalion 5
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 54 GP, 4-17-21, E, 58 PIM
With Barrie: 16 GP, 2-5-7, -1, 19 PIM
With Owen Sound: 38 GP, 2-12-14, +1, 39 PIM
D Dylan Blujus, BRAM: 0-1-1, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 56 GP, 2-21-23, -7, 46 PIM
Two streaks ended on Sunday as Dylan Blujus (pictured) snapped his season-long (tie) six-game scoreless streak and Barrie defenseman Jake Dotchin’s career-long four-game point streak came to an end. Brampton scored four times in the second period on 16 shots. They only managed two in the third period.