We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for November 4, 2013 is … Nikita Kucherov, W (Syracuse Crunch, AHL, USA).
Someone should tell Syracuse Crunch rookie Nikita Kucherov it’s not supposed to be this easy. Players aren’t supposed to average two points-per-game in their first 10 professional games, but after Kucherov averaged three points-per-game last week in three games, that’s exactly what he’s doing with 20 points (11 goals) in 10 games.
Crunch's streak is snapped.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 4 goals on 37 shots for the loss.
BNG Hoffman, (5) (Ceci, Pageau), 7:31
SYR Rankin, (3) (Paquette, Sergeev), 9:42 (PP)
BNG Prince, (2) (Pageau, Ceci), 14:23
BNG Puempel, (3) (Pageau, Robinson), 19:50
BNG Schneider, (4) (Pageau, Hoffman), 5:48
SYR Kucherov, (11) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 12:22
Syracuse gets Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Led by Nikita Kucherov's second-straight four-point night, the Syracuse Crunch rallied past the Rochester Americans in the shootout, 5-4, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
Kucherov, the American Hockey League's rookie of the month, registered a pair of goals and assists, as well as a shootout goal in the Crunch's fifth-straight win. The Russian leads the league with 10 goals.
"It's great, it felt good," Kucherov said of the award. "I just need to keep working."
"He just makes a lot of plays that other guys don't," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "He sees the ice so well."
The 'ovs spur an amazing Crunch comeback.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 33 shots in regulation and OT before stopping 4 of 5 in the penalty shot session for the win.
RCH Adam, (8) (McNabb, Sulzer), 3:25 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (9) (Brown, Korobov), 3:58
RCH Tardif, (2) (Varone, McNabb), 9:13 (PP)
RCH McNabb, (2) (Varone, Bagnall), 14:21
RCH Sundher, (2) (Tardif, McNabb), 6:53
SYR Kucherov, (10) (Korobov, Namestnikov), 7:52
SYR Nesterov, (1) (Namestnikov, Kucherov), 12:38 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (5) (Kucherov, Nesterov), 17:23 (PP)
SYR- Kucherov, Paquette
Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov were the game's first and second stars. As of this moment, Kucherov is 1 back of the AHL lead in points and up by 2 for the league lead in goals. Namestnikov had quietly snuck into a tie for 3rd in the AHL in scoring and, along with Kucherov, is tied with many others for 7th in the league in helpers. Nikita Nesterov also chipped in 1 goal and 1 assist and now has 1 goal and 6 points in his first 9 pro games in North America.
It took a while for the team to adjust to having J.P. Cote and Brett Connolly not in the lineup, but they continue to have an unstoppable power play and a top line that always gives them a puncher's chance in any situation. They'll head to Binghamton to play the Senators tomorrow night having now climbed to 5th in the Eastern Conference with their 5 game winning streak. Think what'll happen if they ever find consistency in the back and/or something resembling second line scoring.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Nikita Kucherov of the Syracuse Crunch was named the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month for October today.
Kucherov began his professional career with eight goals and seven assists for 15 points in eight games, ranking second in the entire AHL in scoring.
His first four career points all came in the Crunch’s home opener against Rochester on Oct. 12 and included a hat trick in a 5-1 victory. He had a goal and an assist each in both ends of a home-and-home series with Binghamton Oct. 18-19, and he netted Syracuse’s only regulation goal in a 2-1 shootout win at Utica on Oct. 25. Kucherov wrapped up the month with another four-point performance, registering two goals and two assists in a 4-1 victory at Albany on Oct. 30.
A second-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 2011, Kucherov played junior hockey last season in the QMJHL, totaling 29 goals and 34 assists for 63 points in just 33 games between Quebec and Rouyn-Noranda. The native of Maykop, Russia, represented his country in the World Junior Championships, winning a silver medal in 2012 and bronze in 2013.
In recognition of his achievement, Kucherov will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Crunch home game.
For video highlights of Kucherov's first month as a pro, click here.
When Syracuse Crunch coach Rob Zettler first made the decision to put Cedric Paquette in the lineup, he relied on what he had heard from scouts.
The Tampa Bay Lightning organization, which drafted Paquette in the fourth round in 2012, knew what they could expect from the gritty 6-1 forward fresh out of junior hockey, and knew he would able to jump right into the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Tonight's win is brought to you by the letter V.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 25 shots for the victory.
SYR Kucherov, (7) (Namestnikov, Taormina), 13:51 (PP)
SYR Kucherov, (8) , 15:00 (PP)
ALB Boucher, (3) (Timmins, Whitney), 9:23
SYR Brown, (2) (Kucherov, Namestnikov), 6:44
SYR Brown, (3) (Kucherov, Namestnikov), 10:14
As great as the top line has played, there is reason for concern. The team was outshot 25-19 in tonight's game and reigning AHL Second Team All-Star Brett Connolly has just 1 helper in 6 games this year. So, the second line has yet to get loose this year.
The Crunch get Rochester next on Friday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
A few days after registering a shutout in his American Hockey League debut, Kristers Gudlevskis returned to the ice with a different look.
The mask emblazoned with blue stripes and the outline of a lightning bolt that he wore in his first three wins of the season was nowhere in sight as Gudlevskis dawned a more comfortable plain white helmet for Syracuse Crunch practice Tuesday.
Like his mask, Gudlevskis is back to a blank slate. His 22-save shutout over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers is history, and it's time to move forward.
It’s tough for Matt Taormina to sit out.
The Syracuse Crunch defenseman, who battled an injury throughout the team’s run to the Calder Cup Finals last season, was not pleased that he had to be scratched from the lineup earlier this month.
"I probably could have waited another week or so (to return), because that's what the doctors had said," Taormina said. "But after the first game, and being around the guys in practice and stuff like that, I felt that I could get back at it earlier than they thought."
Seeing Taormina sit out was equally as difficult for Crunch coach Rob Zettler. Taormina has become an integral part of the blue line for Syracuse since his arrival last season, and the 27-year-old veteran's calm, patient demeanor comes in handy in all situations.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 22 shots in his American Hockey League debut and the Crunch surged ahead with five goals in the second period, lifting Syracuse to a 5-0 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.