The Lightning pull out a critical win in the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 36 shots before allowing 1 of 2 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. Since the Lightning's drubbing against Carolina, Ramo has rebounded (perhaps a bad choice of words in Karri's case) to go 2-0-3. He's got a nice .919 save percentage over that span, too, by my count. Rebound control remains an issue, but he's making the first saves, which is critical. He could save the Lightning a small fortune by proving he can be Smitty's backup with continued good performances down the stretch.
06:12 ATL Kozlov (22), (Enstrom, Armstrong)
17:49 ATL White (20), (Kozlov, Kovalchuk)(PP)
03:50 TB Stamkos (17), (Krajicek, St. Louis)
05:12 TB Stamkos (18), (Lashoff, Lecavalier)(PP)
12:52 ATL Kovalchuk (37), (White, Enstrom)(PP)
15:36 TB Prospal (18), (Krajicek)
The Lightning managed to crawl back into this game after laying down in the First Period the same way they laid down in the Third Period against the Caps. They're fortunate the Thrashers stink in that regard and let them get back to even.
Steven Stamkos continues his steady march to 20 goals as he racked up his 17th and 18th tonight. Keep shooting, young man. It's hard to believe he only had 6 goals at the end of the month of January. In his last 16 games, Stamkos has 11 goals and 16 points. That pro-rates to a 56 goal, 82 point campaign over 82 games. That's not to say he'll stay this hot for a full year next season. But, to me, with an entire offseason to train and build his body and the work ethic he's already displayed, I would not be shocked at all to see him pot 40 goals and 80-90 points next year. I think the league was lulled into a false sense of security about Stamkos when he didn't come out of the hockey womb a preformed point-a-game player and when Barry Melrose decided to chuck #91 under the bus after he was fired. Hopefully Stamkos' amazing late season productivity continues to fly under the radar and sets him up to storm the league early next season. I suspect I'll almost feel pity for teams who have to choose between dying by Stammer or Vincent Lecavalier's hand next year with the two playing on opposite scoring lines. Almost.
Have the Lightning actually won a game in the third jerseys, by the way? If someone knows the team's record with them on, by all means post it. I suspect it's almost terrible enough to warrant burning the new threads.
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 24:37. This was a good rebound game after going -4 against Washington.
David Koci had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 6:45.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 shot in 12:41.
Martins Karsums had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:19. He was better tonight.
Richard Petiot was -1 with 6 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:11. He was awful in the first period as Atlanta took advantage of his slow feet. To his credit, he got it back together in the final 40 minutes. I like him as a #8 or #9 d-man who can come up from Norfolk if there's an injury.
Matt Lashoff had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes and was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 28:18, which led the team in ice time. 3 games in a Lightning jersey: 3 power play assists. You can't complain about that kind of production. He deals a good pass for a one-timer, which can get a defenseman paid on a power play that features shooters like Stamkos, Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis. His skating allows him to potentially eat big minutes like he did tonight, too. Darren Eliot claimed tonight that his skating had somehow been "exposed." It's a shame that someone swapped out his Thrashers flavored Kool-Aid for bad moonshine. Here's to hoping his eyesight returns to him soon.
For some inexplicable reason, the Lightning decided to do a drive by for the third period.
Mike McKenna allowed 5 goals on 30 shots for the loss. He probably would've like to have had Washington's second goal back, and Washington's last goal came off a bad rebound. But the Lightning completely laid down in front of him in the third period, so it's not like McKenna is the one who takes the blame.
07:43 WSH Ovechkin (50), (Backstrom)
17:39 TB Stamkos (16), (Lecavalier, Lashoff)(PP)
19:50 WSH Green (26), (Morrisonn, Kozlov)
15:54 TB St. Louis (27), (Malone, Lashoff)
01:48 WSH Green (27), (Kozlov, Ovechkin)
07:38 WSH Nylander (8), (Kozlov, Ovechkin)(PP)
12:26 WSH Bradley (5), (Morrisonn, Steckel)
The Lightning's streak of getting points in games ends at four. It might be for the best considering the team was about to play itself out of the #2 draft slot. Still, I just don't get it. They played 40 minutes of hockey showing they could go toe-to-toe with one of the most talented teams in the league, and it's like they got on the bus early at the second intermission.
Noah Welch was -2 with 1 shot in 16:33. He's just not good.
Matt Smaby took the rough -4 treatment with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 20:25. Shake it off, #32.
Paul Szczechura was -2 with 3 shots in 13:32. He was also 44% on draws.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:24. The chemistry he had on a line with Szczechura and Pettinger was fleeting, apparently. He's just not very good right now either.
Richard Petiot was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 21:58. He was one of only two players with a plus rating. He made some mistakes, but they didn't end up in his net.
Matt Lashoff had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 22:30. If you're looking for the silver lining from this game, it's Lashoff. When he came over from Boston, from what I had seen in his younger days playing in Providence, I figured he'd be a good two-way #5 d-man who could get you 25 points a season. Seeing him in extended minutes through two games, he looks like he very much might be the equal of Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros in terms of his skill and athleticism. Those are two players who should be 40 point a year d-men when healthy. The key is going to be whether these coaches can get Lashoff to pay attention to his own zone and to take the body consistently. They've already pulled that feat off with Meszaros, so there's reason for optimism on that front. You can see the talent, though. Damian Crisdotero did some Chicken Littling about Cory Murphy breaking his foot and Lashoff having to assume his minutes. Matt sure did answer the bell tonight.
Lightning crumble in final 20:24.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 39 shots before allowing 2 of 6 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. He looked really good for the first 39:36 of the game. He was moving well. Following the puck. Then he overplayed on Jason Blake to allow the first goal and his fundamentals started to come unglued. His rebound control went straight to hell. His five-hole got big enough to drive a truck through. I give him credit for battling his way to get the point and he was game in the shootout, but that's a game Karri's got to help his team close out. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. On the good side, he's claimed 6 of the last 8 available points.
13:39 TB Lecavalier (29), (Murphy, St. Louis)(PP)
02:26 TB Stamkos (15), (St. Louis, Ramo)(PP)
02:36 TB Pettinger (5), (Karsums, Krajicek)
19:36 TOR Mitchell (9), (Blake, Stralman)
03:24 TOR Blake (24), (Stempniak)
14:29 TOR Hamilton (2), (Devereaux, Stajan)
TOR- Hamilton, Mitchell
Hard luck by the Lightning in the shootout as Stamkos and St. Louis both rang posts. Hint to Rick Tocchet: Lashoff's awesome at shootouts.
Noah Welch had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:29. If he plays every game down the stretch, he'll graduate and be a Bolt Prospects alumni. This saddens me. See: Stewart, Karl.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:57. He was more subdued than usual tonight.
David Koci had a 10 minute misconduct, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 4:47.
Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 13:31. He was also 70% on draws. He looked good tonight. His whole line did with Pettinger and Karsums.
Martins Karsums had an assist and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 10:19. Still waiting for him to put it all together, but he was better tonight.
Richard Petiot had 2 hits in 18:59 against his former organization.
Matt Lashoff was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 22:58. You can see why he was a guy the Lightning were willing to give considerably to get. His skating is smooth as silk, and he's got some skill. Between Lashoff, Ranger, and Meszaros the Lightning will have a ridiculously mobile defense next season. The downside with Lashoff? Tocchet needs to get him to take the body more in the defensive zone. If he can get that out of Lashoff, he's a top-four in this league. Even if he doesn't, he's a real nice number five d-man in the making; a great piece to add to the puzzle.
A crushing blow in the Tavares/Hedman Derby.
Karri Ramo allowed just 1 goal on 21 shots for the win, playing both ends of the back-to-back. Getting 3 points out of 4 in a back-to-back situation is another big step for a guy trying to win a job in Tampa next season.
03:21 TOR Stempniak (13), (Blake, Schenn)
05:25 TB Pettinger (4), (Karsums)
17:19 TB St. Louis (25), (Stamkos, Malone)
14:35 TB Malone (24), (Murphy, Lecavalier)(PP)
17:54 TB Szczechura (3), (unassisted)
Noah Welch was +1 with 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 16:40.
Matt Smaby had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 22:42.
Paul Szczechura had 1 goal on 1 shot with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 14:55. He was also 4-for-4 on draws.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist and was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:30.
Richard Petiot was +1 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:31.
These prospect stat reports are getting as long as Smaby's arm.
So, this team has some pride after all? Or, at the very least, some fear of Rick Tocchet?
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the overtime loss. More good than bad. He made THE save all alone with an Ottawa shooter late in the third period to get the Lightning into the OT session, but he's still struggling with his rebound control, which cost the team the winning goal. I don't think anyone blamed him or McKenna for the debacle against McKenna, but it was definitely something worth monitoring going into this game. How would Ramo respond? And, he didn't respond badly.
02:37 TB Murphy (4), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
04:53 OTT Shannon (4), (Spezza, Alfredsson)(PP)
09:25 OTT Kelly (9), (Alfredsson, Phillips)(SH)
09:38 TB Hall (5), (Artyukhin, Krajicek)(PP)
02:38 OTT Fisher (11), (Phillips, Volchenkov)
Noah Welch had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 15:41. That's a far better number in terms of ice time for Welch to be getting.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:35.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:40. He made some dumb plays coming through the neutral zone, which is uncustomary for such a smart player.
Martins Karsums had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:06. The guy is just less than the sum of his parts right now.
Richard Petiot had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 18:13. He looks a step slow for the NHL level, but he's fairly servicable positionally and he looks like he competes. He may be a good spare part to keep around as a #8 type guy down in the minors.
The worst 40 minutes of hockey in Lightning history.
Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 7 shots before being pulled for Karri Ramo. Ramo was then the beneficiary of some of the worst defense in the NHL and allowed 6 goals on 22 shots (and took the back door loss to boot) before being pulled at the end of the Second Period. McKenna stopped all 8 shots he faced the rest of the way. Honestly, there was only 1 questionable goal in the lot (by Ramo, on a shot that deflected off Stamkos' stick and through his five hole). Other than that, all of the other eight goals were quality goals that were either odd man rushes or terrible defensive zone breakdowns.
07:01 CAR Staal (29), (Brind'Amour)(SH)
09:40 CAR Staal (30), (Cole, Ruutu)
10:09 CAR Babchuk (9), (Pitkanen)
12:43 TB St. Louis (24), (Stamkos, Szczechura)
02:41 CAR Corvo (12), (Cole, Staal)
03:48 CAR Brind'Amour (9), (Samsonov (25), Cullen)(PP)
06:03 CAR Ruutu (18), (Samsonov, Corvo)(PP)
12:48 CAR Staal (31), (Larose, Ruutu)
16:45 CAR Staal (32), (Ruutu, Cole)
3:30 TB Lecavalier (28), (Malone, Prospal)
9:12 TB Malone (23), (Prospal, Lecavalier)
Here's an FYI to Len Barrie and Oren Koules: Lightning Nation is pissed off. They're more than a bit peeved by the fact that they have to watch a defense comprised of two cast offs who couldn't even get regular ice time for the Florida Panthers, a cast off who couldn't even get out of the minors for the Carolina Hurricanes, a goon who shouldn't even be playing defense in the NHL, Charminy soft Lukas Krajicek, and Matt Smaby, who is the one guy in the bunch who doesn't deserve to be shot, stuffed, and mounted on the wall at the Bear Mountain Resort. This defense is a disgrace, and it's patently obvious that the season is being tanked from the blueline out. When the lone silver lining is, "Oh, well we picked up two points on the Isles in the Tavares/Hedman derby," that's just not acceptable. Honest to goodness, if you're going to ice a corps that bad, why not just call up Vladimir Mihalik and Ty Wishart? I'd rather give minutes to the kids than a has-been and some never-will-bes.
Noah Welch was -2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in an obscene 27:22 of ice time tonight. He and Cory Murphy's first period should be a warning to pregnant women of what happens if you drink while you're carrying your child. How does a guy who couldn't even get in the lineup for Florida end up here playing 27:22 two games later? I can't figure out if this movie is a comedy or a tragedy, boys and girls.
Smaby was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 16:49. I'm kind of surprised that his ice time was so low because he was very visible in the physical game. That said, even he made his fair share of mildly stupid plays tonight.
David Koci was -2 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 11:59. If David Koci is an NHL defenseman then I'm an international playboy.
Paul Szczechura had an assist and 2 penalty minutes with 3 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:30. I haven't really been impressed with Paul since he came back from his injury, but he showed flashes again tonight, especially in garbage time in the third period.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:27. Chad made the point on the message boards that, athletically, he's reminiscent of Ruslan Fedotenko. That's true, but unlike Fedotenko, Karsums is terrible along the wall. I don't think it's lack of want to and he seems sturdy on his skates. He just seems clueless about his body position. Oh, and he made a nice fat turnover that ended up in the back of the net on Anton Babchuk's goal. From Latvia to Russia with love.
One point further away from Tavares or Hedman?
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the overtime loss. His rebound control needs work, but he was fairly sharp in this one.
05:43 STL Tkachuk (19), (Boyes, McDonald)
09:25 STL McDonald (10), (Backes, Boyes)(PP)
03:28 TB St. Louis (23), (Lecavalier, Stamkos)
06:10 STL Backes (19), (Oshie, McDonald)
12:10 TB Pettinger (3), (Halpern, Artyukhin)
19:44 TB Stamkos (14), (Murphy, St. Louis)
00:27 STL Boyes (26), (Colaiacovo, McDonald)
Noah Welch was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 23:06. He's servicable, if unspectacular.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 1 shot, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:23. He took a skate to the cheek and hardly missed a shift. You can make a very strong case that he's been the team's best d-man over the last month.
David Koci had 1 hit in 6:52.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:59. You can see the attraction from the Lightning's end: he's a good skater with decent burst and feisty for an average sized player.
Brandon Segal had 2 shots and 3 hits in 12:50. He had some good moments tonight on the forecheck but shanked a rebound off a Karsums shot that should've been his first NHL goal.