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.
Bishop smacks down his ex-team.
14:29 OTT Alfredsson (9), (Turris, Phillips)
02:35 TB Labrie (1), (Thompson, Crombeen)
04:28 TB Lecavalier (9), (Purcell, St. Louis)(PP)
00:21 OTT Latendresse (6), (Turris, Wiercioch)
14:56 TB Stamkos (26), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
Vincent Lecavalier, Sami Salo, and The Secret Weapon, Pierre-Cedric Labrie were the game's three stars. Lecavalier is now over a point a game since coming back from the broken foot. It's a shame we'll never know what kind of season he could've had if he hadn't tried to play on a bad wheel for a month.
Old man Alfredsson retiring won't cost me any tears. The man's been cutting our hearts out for years.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 shot in 14:12 in his NHL debut. 4 giveaways. Oof.
Alex Killorn had 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 22:13.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 1 shot and was 75% on draws in 11:49.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 9:37.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:05.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie scored his first NHL goal and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 8:30. Check the man's shooting percentage. Sniper. (Tongue firmly in cheek.)
End of the road?
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 37 shots for the loss. We're starting to see what the book is on Bishop now. He's tough as nails to score on in close but may be a little more vulnerable from long range a la Martin Brodeur and a few other bigger-sized goaltenders. I've been pleasantly surprised how he handles himself as a puck handler, on top of that.
01:52 TB Lecavalier (8), (St. Louis, Salo)
03:14 WSH Ovechkin (24), (Hillen, Backstrom)
06:37 TB Killorn (7), (Lecavalier, Carle)
12:54 WSH Carlson (6), (Ward, Hillen)
16:21 WSH Ward (8), (Perrault, Chimera)
19:55 WSH Ovechkin (25), (Ribiero)(EN)
Vincent Lecavalier was the game's third star. He has 3 points in 3 games since returning from the broken foot.
It's a tough, tough way to see your season possibly slip away. The past 2 nights saw a pair of 1 goal games that could've easily gone the other way, and just 1 or 2 mistakes and bad bounces made the difference. It's a shame, and the kind of thing that should keep these guys up at nights during the offseason. My biggest regret is that the outcome of these games may very well have gone the other way had Victor Hedman been in the lineup. Again, it's a shame.
The Lightning's divisional deficit grows back to 8 points, with seemingly not enough games left to close the gap.
Alex Killorn had a beautiful goal and was -1 with 2 shots in 16:19.
Matt Taormina was -1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 16:52.
Tyler Johnson had 1 shot, 1 hit, and was 58% on draws in 11:15.
Richard Panik was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 13:15. The guy has got to quit giving away the puck in the neutral zone. It's a career killing bad habit.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 shots and 7 hits in 19:26.
This is a tough one to take.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the loss. It's a tough way to lose on a strange goal that will no doubt stick in Bishop's craw for a little while.
13:45 NYI Grabner (12), (Tavares)
04:44 TB Panik (2), (Lecavalier, Carle)
04:00 TB Carle (4), (Stamkos, Pouliot)
13:34 NYI Martin (3), (Lee, Streit)
19:46 NYI MacDonald (3), (Bailey)(EN)
It's the first regulation loss of Jon Cooper's tenure in Tampa Bay. Matt Carle was named the game's third star.
Alex Killorn was -2 with 4 shots and 1 blocked shot in 22:02.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 2 hits in 11:28.
Richard Panik hooked up with Vincent Lecavalier for a beautiful goal and was +1 with 1 shot and 10:08. The good was the quick release he showed on an amazing behind the back feed from Lecavalier. The bad came in the form of some questionable decisions Panik made with the puck in the neutral zone.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:20. Tonight was one of the rare nights Radko looked to me to have heavy legs. I was surprised.
Bishop making Yzerman look like a genius.
Ben Bishop stopped all 45 shots he faced for the shutout after being acquired from Ottawa in exchange for Cory Conacher. That's quite the debut for a goaltender who is the latest to be tasked with trying to close the gaping hole left since Nikolai Khabibulin shuffled off to Chicago many moons ago. I do like the deal Yzerman made. After a red hot first 7 games in the NHL, Conacher had cooled off greatly in the 28 games since and was not having the impact on a shift-to-shift basis some of the other rookies were having. He's not chopped liver, mind you, but he also was probably never going to have higher trade value and Yzerman knew that. Leveraging that asset for a true NHL goaltender is shrewd.
00:28 TB Purcell (8), (Carle)
15:55 TB Pyatt (8), (Killorn, Brewer)
19:17 TB Aulie (2), (Stamkos, St. Louis)
02:24 TB St. Louis (9), (Pouliot, Carle)
07:30 TB Pouliot (7), (Stamkos, St. Louis)
For anyone who thinks Victor Hedman isn't important to this team, look what happened tonight with him out with a lower body injury early. 45 shots against and Bishop really having to bust it to save the Lightning's bacon. Hurry back soon #77. Also, we'll see if Vincent Lecavalier manages to get back into the lineup too after also leaving in his return from the shelf. I did really like Coach Cooper's thought of putting the vet between two potential stars like Connolly and Panik, and I'd love to see them get back to it.
So it's not all roses in a 5-0 win, but good goaltending has a way of making everything look better.
Alex Killorn had a helper and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 18:33.
Tyler Johnson had 3 hits and 1 blocked shot and was 40% on draws in 10:42.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 1 hit in 13:28.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 4 penalty minutes, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:34.
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.
Goaltending makes the difference.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 24 shots for the loss. At the end of the day, he's simply not an NHL goaltender. Winnipeg has a decent NHL goaltender in Pavelec, and that was the difference between winning and losing tonight. It was an incredibly tough spot to put Cedrick in starting him after the coaching change and the Lightning got about what I expected from it.
14:02 WPG Little (5), (Wheeler)
02:35 WPG Byfuglien (6), (Wheeler, Little)(PP)
06:20 TB Stamkos (22), (St. Louis, Salo)(PP)
09:35 WPG Enstrom (3), (Ladd, Little)
05:01 TB Conacher (9), (Brewer)
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
Now we move on to the elephant in the room, which is the question of who will be the next Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Let me make this plain: it would be incredibly foolish to select anyone other than Jon Cooper to coach this team. If there is any prejudice against AHL coaches because of Guy Boucher's inability to sustain the success he had early in his tenure, it should be tempered by the fact Cooper has achieved far more in his AHL career than Boucher ever managed. Where Boucher's Hamilton team fell in the AHL Finals, Cooper has won a Calder Cup with Norfolk and set historic records in the process He also, against all odds, has Syracuse in first in the Eastern Conference despite losing his best players to callup. He's done so without teams flush with top-60 draft picks, either. Take a look at the players the Lightning have brought up from Syracuse. Other than Panik, none of them were selected in the top-60, and Conacher and Johnson were undrafted free agents. And yet, they're in the NHL. Why? Partly because Jon Cooper has taught them to play the game the right way, and to maximize the talent that they have. Indeed, they are the living embodiment of Jon Cooper's resume. They backcheck well and are defensively responsible. They play with physical edge. They hustle their bags off. Above all, they're winners.
They, along with young stars Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman, are the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning. And there are even more of Jon Cooper's players on the way up to the NHL. Brett Connolly, at a minimum, will join the team, and there are several others who will also be knocking on the door as well. If the next few years are destined to be played out by Jon Cooper's kids, does it not make sense that Jon Cooper should be the one to lead them? Not an NHL retread. Not another team's AHL coach, who does not nearly have the same record as Cooper or the unbelievable rapport Cooper has with the organization's young future stars. And with Andrej Sustr on his way to Tampa Bay next week and a top-10 pick looking to be in the offing this June, who better than Cooper, who we gave the monicker The Rookie Whisperer last year with Norfolk, to break them into the pro game?
My deep hope is that Steve Thomas being behind the bench tonight in Winnipeg along with Boucher's assistants was a tell. I hope it's a clear indicator that Jon Cooper is on the way. And, if he is, I have no doubt the future is very bright and the Lightning will be back as one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference very, very soon.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 19:27.
Tyler Johnson had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:47. He was also 47% on draws.
Richard Panik had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:30. Holy God is he hard on the puck though. You better bring a SAM missile if you want to knock him off of it once he's got it.
Ondrej Palat had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:13.
Radko Gudas was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 19:51.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 2 hits in 5:04 before leaving with the dreaded upper-body injury.
Cory Conacher had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots in 14:24.
That's seven Tampacuse players. Plus Aulie. That's over a third of the team's skaters. This is such a no-brainer decision, and it needs to be made correctly tomorrow before the Lightning can begin to climb again toward greatness.
Same garbage. Different day.
12:49 OTT Silfverberg (8), (Methot)
14:29 OTT Gryba (1), (Turris, Methot)
17:01 OTT Latendresse (4), (Silfverberg, Zibanejad)
19:50 OTT Alfredsson (7), (Wiercioch, Gonchar)(PP)
11:37 TB Johnson (2), (Brewer, Panik)
13:53 TB Johnson (3), (Carle)
18:01 TB Purcell (7), (Hedman, Salo)
19:39 OTT Alfredsson (8), (Turris, Greening)(EN)
Tyler Johnson was the game's third star.
It was like a replay of the Toronto game. The Lightning came out strong. They had some chances and some zone time in Ottawa's end but couldn't cash in. Brain farts turn into goals. One or two goals become a four goal lead for the bad guys. Next thing you know the team's in garbage time where it seems like the veterans have checked out and only the Tampacuse kids are doing work. It's something that needs to be corrected. There's still 17 games left to go, and if veterans are already mentally checked out and making tee times, they need to be gone from this organization at the deadline. Period. Point blank.
Alex Killorn had 2 penalty minutes, 5 shots, and 5 hits in 18:37.
Johnson had 2 goals and was +1 with 3 shots and 2 hits in 16:10. He was also 70% on draws. He's doing everything he needs to do right now to ink his name onto Tampa's roster for next season.
Richard Panik had a helper and was +2 with 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:45. He was impactful in his return to the team, hitting a post in the First Period, being active physically, and getting a helper in the final frame. It was really fun to see Palat/Johnson/Panik getting to play together in the NHL and they looked like their chemistry definitely translated to the show.
Ondrej Palat was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 12:21.
Radko Gudas had 2 shots, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:54.
End of the road?
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 18 shots for the loss. Anders Lindback relieved Garon and allowed 1 on 8 shots, but left with the dreaded lower body injury in the Third Period. It's unfortunate considering how well Lindback has played of late.
06:56 TOR Lupul (3), (Kadri, Gunnarsson)
00:52 TOR Phaneuf (5), (Gannarsson, Kadri)
06:53 TOR Bozak (8), (Kessel, Fraser)
07:22 TOR Kulemin (4), (Kadri, Lupul)
07:44 TB Gudas (1), (Labrie, Crombeen)
17:02 TB Conacher (8), (Johnson, St. Louis)
It's hard not to wonder if that Second Period was the death knell for the season. The team actually didn't look that bad, especially in the First Period when Stamkos' line was sort of having their way. But, the passes were just not crisp tonight and that led to turnovers around their own blueline that led to goals against. It's a tale as old as time.
Alex Killorn was -2 with 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 15:03.
Tyler Johnson had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 15:26.
Ondrej Palat had 3 shots and 4 hits in 14:07.
Radko Gudas had his first NHL goal/point and was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 18:46. Well done young man.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie had a helper for his first NHL point of this season and he was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 9:14.
Cory Conacher had the goal in front of the home area crowd and was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 17:56.
When/if Steve Yzerman makes the decision the playoffs are too improbable for the Lightning, one wonders if players like Johnson, Palat, and Gudas may be ticketed back for Syracuse to get another taste of a deep AHL playoff run in preparation for next season.