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 December 2-8, 2013 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).
The most underappreciated prospect in the Lightning system in recent years is finally getting the attention he deserves. Ondrej Palat, a seventh round pick of the Lightning in 2011, has been a coach’s dream since he forced his way onto AHL Norfolk’s roster in 2011 when the Lightning though he’d return to QMJHL Drummondville. He’s been an integral part of Norfolk, Syracuse, and now Tampa Bay ever since.
Palat is a do-it-all player who thinks the game at another level than most young players. Most times that description refers to offensive vision, but Palat’s is a big-picture, coach-like ability to read the game. His responsibility level is off the charts and he has the skating, size, and skill to fit in on any line.
Capitals steal a point from the Lightning.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots and 3 of 5 shooters to convert in the Shootout for the SO Loss. He wasn't as on top of his game as usual, but the only goal I might be able to fault him for was Ovechkin's tying goal with the empty net, which squirted underneath his armpit.
2:26 TB St Louis (13), (Salo, Johnson)(PP)
10:49 TB Kucherov (2), (Purcell, Carle)(PP)
11:07 TB Thompson (3), (Brown, Crombeen)
14:15 WSH Ovechkin (23), (Backstrom)
6:24 WSH Backstrom (7), (Grabovski, Brouwer)(PP)
12:41 TB Johnson (7), (Palat, St Louis)
16:38 WSH Ovechkin (24), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
18:48 WSH Ovechkin (25), (Green, Backstrom)(PP)
8:36 TB Palat (5), (Johnson, St Louis)
19:27 WSH Ovechkin (26), (Carlson, Backstrom)
TB- Kucherov, Purcell
WSH- Fehr, Grabovski, Brouwer
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
The Lightning have nothing to feel ashamed of in this game. They dominated, and I mean DOMINATED play at even strength. They outshot Washington 42-31 and if it weren't for Washington being spotted two goals on a boarding major, I suspect the Lightning would have won this game in regulation going away. That's quite the achievement going against a high-powered team like Washington with their top defenseman, Victor Hedman, out of the lineup. I'll take that effort, minus the boarding major, 9 nights out of 10 and win on most of those nights.
The Lightning close the third 10-game segment of the season with 9 points, 3 shy of the minimum 12 you want every 10-game segment. That's bad. However, because the team had gotten a surplus of 4 points in the first 2 segments of the campaign, they remain on track for the season. However, they cannot afford to keep falling behind schedule in these 10-game segments and this fourth segment coming up is going to be critical for the Lightning as they attempt to stay in position for a postseason run.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 shots, 10 hits, and 3 blocked shots in a huge 28:38 of ice time. That's not a typo (neither the minutes nor the hits). The young man's a stud.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot in 7:18. Only Panik had less ice time (for reasons that will be obvious later), and that is very reflective of how he played. If you're ever looking to make the case on why plus-minus is a deceptive stat, Mark Barberio might be Case 1. Yes, he's got a good plus-minus so far this season and even got a plus rating in this game. No, he's not good defensively at all. He had an ill-advised step up in the neutral zone in the Second Period that led to a quick 3-on-1, a really long foray for Washington in the offensive zone, and eventually a penalty on the Lightning that Backstrom scored on to cut the Lightning's lead to 3-2. In the Third Period, Barberio was defending a defenseman, Karl Alzner, on the rush and Alzner nearly beat Barberio around the corner. Barberio made a stay-at-home defenseman look like Bill Guerin in his prime. So, you have bad decision making and a guy who is physically weak. That's a recipe for disaster the Lightning coaching staff decided not to bake with tonight.
Tyler Johnson had 1 goal, 3 points, and was +2 with 3 shots in 20:50. He was also 42% on draws. He was certainly on the right line tonight, supporting St. Louis and Palat as they ran wild on the Caps. He wasn't the straw that stirs the drink, but he's a nice compliment to those two.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 22:20. The penalty he took was a complete fabrication by the refs and it's fortunate that didn't cost the Lightning. Beyond that, I thought Killorn had one of his better games in a while. He was strong as an ox on the puck and getting shots in bunches, playing his game. This is what you expect from Alex Killorn.
Ondrej Palat had 1 goal, 2 points, and was +2 with 6 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:25. In my mind he was the Lightning's best player tonight. He was so dangerous on the rush and he already is showing incredible chemistry with Martin St. Louis. Those two look like they have magic together and Palat nearly won the game twice in Overtime hitting the post from the RW circle on one play and toe dragging into the slot for another opportunity he was denied on. He was outstanding, and it speaks to the quality of Palat's game that of all the talented rookies this team has he is the one that is standing out the most right now.
J.T. Brown had an assist, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 11:02. He played sparing minutes with the fourth line but made the most of them, in my mind. He gave Nate Thompson an easy goal on a 2-on-1 by freezing the goaltender with a fake shot before dishing and he helped that line put together a stabilizing forechecking shift when the team was clinging to a 1 goal lead at 3-2 in the Second Period.
Matt Taormina had 2 hits in 11:33. A lot of his time came on the second PP unit as the Lightning tried to hide him a bit from Washington's skillful forwards.
Nikita Kucherov had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:07. He has a spot. High slot. Give him the puck there for a quick release slapper and he's looking as money as Steven Stamkos from the left wing circle. As breathtaking as that goal was, his Pavel Datsyuk impression in the Shootout is the one you're going to see on highlight reels. The young man has ridiculous hands.
Andrej Sustr had 1 hit in 11:36. He stood up ok with his reach on the one really dangerous rush I recall him facing, but it's clear he wasn't comfortable with Washington's pace so the Lightning coaches appeared to protect him just like Barberio and Taormina.
Richard Panik had 5 penalty minutes with 1 shot and 1 hit in 5:29. His major for boarding Alzner was obviously the turning point of the game. The Lightning held a 4-2 lead on Washington at the time he took the penalty and appeared to be cruising toward a victory. Washington emerged from that major penalty with a 4-4 tie, and that allowed Washington to avoid getting run out of their own building, in my opinion. The Lightning have Tyrell on emergency recall from Syracuse, so I don't know if it's feasible to send Panik down right now, but something's got to give. He's just not contributing anything right now, and he owes the team a point after tonight's debacle. I feel bad for the young man, but the team can't keep investing time in him and keep getting nothing in return. Ultimately, Steve Yzerman and Jon Cooper aren't running a charity. This is a results oriented business and 30 games into the season Panik simply hasn't been getting results.
St. John's finally solves SyraNo.
STJ Jaffray, (8) (Kichton, Redmond), 8:23 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (2) (Paquette), 11:10
STJ Lowry, (2) (Lipon), 18:03
STJ Fredheim, (1) (Samson, Mouillierat), 7:05 (PP)
STJ Schnell, (1) (Redmond), 7:17
STJ O'Neill, (2) (Redmond, Gordon), 19:50
SYR Paquette, (7) (Langelier-Parent, Connolly), 9:07
STJ Klingberg, (7) (MacKinnon, Riley), 19:29
There's not much to feel positive about from this contest. Syracuse was dominated on the shot board 47-15 and dominated on the scoreboard 6-2. The two teams square off again tomorrow when the Crunch will have a chance at redemption. As an old hockey hand once told me, it's really hard to paste the same team two nights in a row.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Bratislava 1 vs. Mytischi 2 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, SO Loss, 18/19, 0.92 GAA, .947 sv%
Season totals: 23 GP, 9-10-4, 2 SO, 2.85 GAA, .892 sv%
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty session for the SO Loss in Bratislava's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Mytischi. Ex-Lightning first rounder Vladimir Mihalik assisted on Slovan's lone regulation goal.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Halifax Mooseheads 4 @ Charlottetown Islanders 1
C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: Did not play
Season totals: 23 GP, 17-33-50, +18, 22 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM
Drouin missed the game with a much-publicized mild concussion. Drouin is out indefinitely. His has to be symptom free before he can work out, then be symptom free after that. In case you missed it, Drouin’s head was hit into the glass from behind by fellow Lightning prospect Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts. Erne received a major penalty and game misconduct, but was not suspended.
Ontario Hockey League
Mississauga Steelheads 2 @ North Bay Battalion 3
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 19 GP, 1-6-7, -12, 22 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
Blujus was scoreless in North Bay’s 3-2 win over the Steelheads.
Barrie Colts 7 @ Ottawa 67’s 2
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 29 GP, 6-12-18, +19, 62 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
Barrie doubled up Ottawa in shots, 47-23, en route to a 7-2 win. Dotchin did not figure in on the scoring.
Erie Otters 7 @ Kingston Frontenacs 2
W Henri Ikonen, KGN: 0-2-2, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 27 GP, 13-28-41, +15, 25 PIM
2012-13 totals: 61 GP, 22-29-51, +2, 30 PIM
Ikonen extended his point streak to 11 games with two assists. He is tied with Sam Bennett (expected 2014 first rounder) for the team lead in scoring. Ikonen is tied for eighth in the league in assists with 28, 13 behind leader and Leafs sixth rounder Conner Brown of Erie. Brown had two goals in Sunday’s win over the Fronts.
Bratislava 5 vs. Yaroslavl 3
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, Win, 20/23, 3.00 GAA, .870 sv%
Season totals: 22 GP, 9-10-3, 2 SO, 2.94 GAA, .890 sv%
Playing in just his second game of the season, ex-NHLer Miroslav Satan had 2 goals to help lead Bratislava to a 5-3 win over Yaroslavl. Ex-Lightning first rounder Vladimir Mihalik also had a helper in the win for Slovan and ex-Lightning prospect Michal Sersen added 2 apples in the victory.
Harvard Crimson 2 @ Yale Bulldogs 2
F Brian Hart, HAR: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 13 GP, 1-7-8, -3, 8 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 29 GP, 4-13-17, +1, 10 PIM
Harvard was outshot 54-27 by their rivals from Yale.
Denver Pioneers 2 @ No. 12 Miami RedHawks 4
F Jimmy Mullin, MIA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 15 GP, 1-5-6, +3, 6 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 38 GP, 6-8-14, E, 14 PIM
Miami earned a weekend split with Denver with a win on Saturday. Denver scored their second goal with five seconds left in the game. Miami is listed as scoring an empty net goal two seconds later.
No. 15 North Dakota 3 @ Western Michigan Broncos 2
F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: Did not play
Season totals: 10 GP, 3-2-5, -3, 4 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 29 GP, 2-8-10, E, 20 PIM
North Dakota completed a 2-game sweep over WMU, winning both games 3-2.
No. 5 Quinnipiac Bobcats 4 @ Union Dutchmen 6
F Matthew Peca, QU: 1-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals: 19 GP, 5-8-13, +3, 8 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 39 GP, 15-15-30, +14, 36 PIM
Peca had two goals this weekend. He’s starting to heat up. On Saturday he is listed as scoring an unassisted goal into an empty net – in the second period. QU had a penalty at the same time so Peca may have been credited with an extra-attacker own goal by Union.
No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers 3 @ Michigan State Spartans 2
G Adam Wilcox, MIN: Win, 19 saves on 21 shots
Season totals: 14 GP, 11-2-2, 2.17 GAA, .923 sv%, 1 SO
2012-2013 totals: 39 GP, 25-8-5, 1.88 GAA, .921 sv%, 3 SO
The Gophers will leave Lansing with a win and a tie after winning on Saturday night. Wilcox (pictured) allowed Sparty’s second goal with one second left on the clock.
*USCHO poll used
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Quebec Remparts 6 @ Charlottetown Islanders 3
C/W Adam Erne, QUE: 0-3-3, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 1 Hit, 15/26 FO
Season totals: 30 GP, 12-26-38, +1, 45 PIM
2012-2013 Season: 68 GP, 28-44-72, +11, 67 PIM
Erne avoided a suspension for his match-penalty earning hit against fellow Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin on Friday night and responded with three assists on PEI against the Islanders. Drouin will not play on Sunday as he is reportedly still experiencing headaches associated with the hit. While his symptoms are considered minor, all head injuries are considered serious. He’s out indefinitely.
Ontario Hockey League
North Bay Battalion 6 @ Niagara IceDogs 3
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, +1, 4 PIM
Season totals: 18 GP, 1-6-7, -13, 22 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
North Bay got a much-needed win, beating Niagara 6-3. The Battalion stayed within five points of Sudbury for first in the Central Division.
Barrie Colts 5 @ Belleville Bulls 1
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-1-1, E, 0 PIM
Season totals: 28 GP, 6-12-18, +18, 62 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
Barrie remains in second place in the Central Division, just ahead of North Bay.
Kitchener Rangers 1 @ Windsor Spitfires 2
D Slater Koekkoek, WSR: 0-0-0, +2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 29 GP, 7-17-24, +29, 18 PIM
2012-13 totals: 40 GP, 6-23-29, -24, 28 PIM
Koekkoek was on the ice for both of the Spits’ goals on Saturday in an important win over the Rangers. Windsor has earned a point in five straight games.
Jesse Blacker broke a tie with less than nine minutes remaining, lifting the Norfolk Admirals over the Syracuse Crunch for a second-straight night, 2-1, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
The Crunch, who fell in the shootout to the Admirals Friday, spent most of the game rotating through five defensemen, after Jean-Philippe Cote was ejected for an illegal hit to the head at the 11:41 mark of the first period.
"Cote is a valuable guy," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "One, just having him out of the lineup period is just tough. But playing five D is tough too, especially in back-to-back games."
Lightning keep letting shaky goaltenders off the hook.
Anders Lindback allowed 2 goals on 36 shots for the OT loss. He played great and really deserved better than he got from the team in front of him. Did he have one lucky save on a point blank rebound chance by Jokinen that was off one of his own rebounds? Sure. But he gave the Lightning every opportunity to win this game.
5:25 WPG Wheeler (7), (Trouba, Clitsome)
19:58 TB Thompson (2), (Gudas, St Louis)
1:04 WPG Scheifele (3), (Wheeler)
Lindback and Radko Gudas were the game's second and third stars.
Someone needs to have a very serious discussion with this team about letting backup/shaky goaltenders off the hook. Al Montoya looked like hot trash in net tonight. He was giving up rebounds. He was barely squeezing off chances that nearly went though him. He did not look confident or poised between the pipes. 5 shots in the First Period. 12 in the Second Period, but mostly from the perimeter. Not much zone time. Nothing that really created the conditions to get some greasy goals. It's always important to do that, mind you, but when you play a goaltender like Montoya I have no idea why the team isn't on it like a cat on catnip. They sleepwalked through the first 40 minutes and ended up losing in OT of a game they could've easily won in regulation if they hadn't completely let Montoya off the hook. They did the same thing in Columbus sleepwalking through so much of that game, and I just don't get it.
Gudas had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 5 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 21:38. He was a stud tonight and he was all over Andrew Ladd like a bad holiday sweater throughout the game.
Mark Barberio was -2 in 12:59. A lot of people ask me why I am hard on Barberio. He's lived a charmed life so far this year if you look at his overall plus/minus so people don't think he's a bad defensive liability. Please refer to the OT winner the next time you feel the need to ask me why I am hard on Mark Barberio. Scheifele manhandled Barberio on what should have been a very easy tie-up for an NHL defenseman to make. That's why he terrifies me in his own third of the rink. Even small forwards can rag doll him.
Tyler Johnson was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits and he was 39% on draws in 19:05.
Alex Killorn had 3 shots and 3 hits in 16:31. He almost did his Chris Drury impression again working himself into a breakaway in Overtime only to ring his shot off the goalpost after a nice move. One note on that play, looking back at the replay: I am absolutely positive Al Montoya threw his stick after getting faked out of his shorts by Killorn on the play. That probably should've been called a PS for Killorn (mind you, Killorn faked him out so bad he probably should've finished off the goal). Instead, the Jets came down the other way and the waste receptacle conflagration occurred on Scheifele's winning goal.
Ondrej Palat was -1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot. As he was in the AHL, I thought he was the straw that stirred the drink tonight on his line as a lot of chances were running through Palat's play.
J.T. Brown had 1 shot and 1 hit in 11:27.
Matt Taormina had 1 shot in 10:54. He had one really cringe-worthy shift in the Third Period where he looked physically overmatched a la Barberio.
Nikita Kucherov had 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 13:50. He's mesmerizing with the puck and I think Lightning players need to learn to have their sticks on the ice ready to shoot whenever Kucherov's in the offensive third.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 14:42. He had a glorious chance jumping up into the high slot on one play in the First Period and made another in the opening frame where he made a beautiful cross ice feed to Thompson for a near tip-in goal. He was also pretty responsible defensively, as usual. If you're going to get shifts like Taormina and Barberio had tonight, I'd rather Cooper just dress 6 d-men and play Sustr more, to be blunt.