The kids at forward stake their claim.
Riku Helenius was perfect on 15 shots before giving way to Cedrick Desjardins, who allowed 1 goal on 17 shots the rest of the way. It's a good showing for the potential tandem for Syracuse this season.
5:41 TB Connolly, (Hedman)
6:51 TB Palat, (unassisted)
6:44 TB Stamkos, (Malone, Witkowski)
18:41 TB Connolly, (Hedman, Sustr)
0:46 NSH Cullen, (unassisted)(SH)
2:03 TB Panik, (Kucherov, Taormina)(PP)
Brett Connolly, Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman were the game's three stars. Connolly also scored in a big scrimmage earlier in preseason to draw the praise of Jon Cooper and with Connolly and the PTP line (Palat, Johnson, and Panik) all playing well the roster calculus gets very interesting.
In particular, note Jonathan Drouin only got 12:23 of ice time tonight. Follow the ice time in these games, because it will tell you who the club is looking at and who is earning a little longer look. For instance, note Andrej Sustr with over 20 minutes of ice time, which was almost 4 minutes more than Keith Aulie. Interesting stuff.
Box score from Tampabaylightning.com.
All good things...
Grand Rapids Wins the Series 4-2
Grand Rapids Wins the Calder Cup
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 23 shots in a game that encapsulated the Finals for Desjardins. Brilliant at times, he allowed a goal through him on the eventual game winner by Evans that he surely wishes he had back. It will be interesting to see how Julien BriseBois retools between the pipes for next season, because you can make the argument the difference between Desjardins and Mrazek was, in large part, the difference between champion and runner-up.
SYR Panik, (9) (Taormina, Palat), 17:15
GR Callahan, (6) (Ferraro, Grant), 2:23
GR Tatar, (15) (Nyquist, Ferraro), 12:41 (PP)
SYR Sustr, (2) (Namestnikov, Devos), 5:14
GR Evans, (2) (Callahan, Sheahan), 9:54
GR Tatar, (16) (Andersson, Nyquist), 19:11 (EN/PP)
GR Andersson, (3) (Glendening), 19:54 (EN)
I think Lightning fans everywhere, even with the bitterness of this defeat, need to start by saying, "thank you" to this group of players. The team we've referred to as "SyraNo" on this site, which won a championship in Norfolk last year and almost did again this year with Syracuse has been one of the best groups of players ever to take the ice together in the AHL. A lot of these guys, like Radko Gudas who returned tonight from injury, are ticketed for the NHL next year. Others, some of the really veteran guys, may move on in the offseason. So, this group of guys will never be together again, but we should tip our hat to them for two years of sustained brilliance the likes of which we're unlikely to see again anytime soon.
As for the young prospects who will likely return to Syracuse next season, I found myself highly impressed with Vladislav Namestnikov and Andrej Sustr, both of whom got stronger as the playoffs wore on. Namestnikov is a legit threat to be an AHL All-Star next season, if not more, with his wizardry with the puck and Sustr is something rare and interesting in pro hockey. You have to put aside the fact Andrej is 6'8", because he refuses to play to type. He's not a bone crunching stay-at-homer, and there's a lot of times he looks like a forward with his ability to read the play offensively and jump into the action. His feed to Tyler Johnson in the slot in the Third Period tonight was an incredible bit of vision that I think stunned TJ a bit, and darned near got Syracuse the key goal they needed in the final frame. That's after he tied the game once in the final period with an absolute bullet from the point. These two guys will be fun to watch develop next season.
Ondrej Palat finishes the playoffs as the AHL leader in postseason scoring. Well done, Mr. Palat.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Oh so close to getting the 2 points in the final road game of the season.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 5 goals on 25 shots for the loss. Yuck.
LE Thomas, (22) (Hishon, Lauridsen), 4:13
SYR Sexton, (8) (Palat, Richard), 18:28
SYR Namestnikov, (6) (Sustr, Korobov), 10:50 (PP)
LE Connolly, (9) (Thomas, Beaupre), 14:14
LE Vincour, (15) (Pock, Sullivan), 18:34 (PP)
SYR Sustr, (1) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 2:03 (PP)
SYR Devos, (6) (Brown, Taormina), 3:26
LE Vincour, (16) (Hishon, Carey), 9:42
LE Agozzino, (19) (Walker, Pock), 2:49
Ondrej Palat got the extremely rare penalty shot in Overtime, but failed to convert against Lake Erie netminder Kent Patterson.
Congratulations to Andrej Sustr on his first pro point, first pro goal, and first pro multi-point game.
Tanner Richard got a helper. In related news, water is wet.
Syracuse is now 3 points back of Providence and 1 points back of Springfield in the conference and 3 points ahead of Binghamton in the division. They head home for a hugely important 5 game homestand to finish the regular season. With Ryan Malone back for Tampa Bay, might Coach Zettler get back one of his star players for the kick at the finish line?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forwards Dana Tyrell and Brett Connolly from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Additionally the team has reassigned forwards Mike Angelidis and Ondrej Palat, along with defenseman Andrej Sustr and goaltender Cedrick Desjardins to the Crunch.
I still hate shootouts.
Mathieu Garon allowed 2 goals on 25 shots and was 1 for 2 in the shootout for the SOL. He got outdueled badly by Markstrom, and Lightning fans have to be cursing the day Lindback got his high ankle sprain.
08:36 FLA Kopecky (13), (Brennan, Fleischmann)
16:41 FLA Rallo (1), (Brennan, Kuba)(PP)
05:38 TB Pyatt (7), (Purcell, Carle)
10:32 Killorn (6), (Hedman, Purcell)
The Lightning completely dominated large swaths of this game and deserved better than to only get 1 point out of it. It's damned hard to put together a winning streak when you're surrendering a soft goal or two every game, and the Lightning desperately need a winning streak.
Mike Angelidis was 43% on draws in 7:22.
Alex Killorn had a goal and was +1 with 4 shots in 23:20. He's so money.
Andrej Sustr was +1 with 1 shot in 8:19. Officially 2 giveaways. That'll get your ice time down in single digit minutes as a rookie.
Tyler Johnson had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 58% on draws in 16:53.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 2 shots and 3 hits in 11:39.
Radko Gudas had a fight, 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 11:55.
Cory Conacher played 14:04 in the game.
Jon Cooper knows the way to the pay window.
Mathieu Garon allowed 4 goals on 25 shots, but was 2 for 2 in the PS session for the victory. He was pretty dreadful tonight, but the Lightning picked him up.
05:50 NJ Loktionov (7), (D'Agostini, Greene)
06:41 NJ Kostopoulos (1), (unassisted)(PS)
08:00 TB Stamkos (24), (St. Louis, Aulie)
10:26 TB Thompson (7), (Panik, Gudas)
13:58 NJ Greene (3), (D'Agostini, Zidlicky)(PP)
02:39 NJ Carter (4), (unassisted)(SH)
07:11 TB Stamkos (25), (Killorn)
19:44 TB Killorn (5), (Stamkos, Carle)
TB- Purcell, Hedman
Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn were the game's first and third stars. Coach Cooper saw just what a special player he inherits in Stamkos tonight. Everytime the Lightning looked ready to implode, Stammer got a big goal, and then he had the cool assist on Killorn's game tying tally with the extra attacker.
Love that the effort level is back from the entire team.
Killorn had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +2 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 20:52.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 13:07 in his NHL debut. High praise for a rookie defenseman: I didn't notice him.
Tyler Johnson had 1 hit and was 67% on draws in 14:26.
Richard Panik had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot in 12:25.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 3 hits in 12:52.
Radko Gudas had a helper and was +1 with 7 penalty minutes, 2 shots, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:23. Pretty standard for Radko's office hours.
Cory Conacher was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:22.