Crunch Top Devils For Ninth-Straight Win


By Jeremy Houghtaling

The streak continues.

The Syracuse Crunch netted a pair of power play goals in a 3-2 victory over the Albany River Rats in the final game before the holiday break at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday. The nine-game win streak is the longest the franchise has had in its three years affiliated with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Syracuse leads the Northeast Division and is second overall in the Eastern Conference. While the Crunch would like to keep the momentum rolling, they are welcoming a short rest.

"They deserve it," Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler said of the break. "These guys played very hard. You could see it out there. It was a chippy, kind of nasty game, but I think our players played hard and they deserve the five days."

The BoltProspects Podcast, Volume 12

This week's edition of the BoltProspects Podcast (now on Lightning Radio's iHeart station) includes the following topics:

· Analyzing Vasilevskiy's debut
· Taylor Hall trade rumors
· Interview with Syracuse captain Mike Angelidis
· BP Mailbag (More on TB goaltending future, KHL fallout, Artem Sergeev status update)
· TB prospect World Juniors preview

Click here to listen

To listen on Lightning Radio, go to TBLPowerPlay.com.

Previous BP Podcast editions:

Juniors Game Night: 12-20-14

Ontario Hockey League

Windsor Spitfires 4 @ Saginaw Spirit 7

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-1-1, E, 6 PIM
Season totals: 27 GP, 9-7-16, -12, 49 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM

DiGiacinto broke a personal three-game scoreless drought with an assist Saturday.

AHL Game Night: 12-20-14 Devils at Crunch

Fans went to a fight and another Syracuse Crunch win broke out.

ALB-2
SYR-3

Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the victory. That's 4 straight quality starts and 5 straight wins and he's run his save percentage up to .907 now.

First Period
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Marchessault, Namestnikov), 8:41 (PP)
SYR Blunden, (5) (Angelidis), 13:34

Second Period
ALB Boucher, (7) (Whitney, Scarlett), 7:32 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (4) (Nesterov, Samson), 9:30 (PP)

Third Period
ALB Thompson, (13) (Black), 7:56

Mike Angelidis, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Gudlevskis were the game's three stars. The Crunch ran their winning streak to 9 games as they continue to diligently stalk Manchester for first place in the Eastern Conference, where they remain just a point out. Given the Lightning's struggles up top, though, I would not be shocked to see Namestnikov moved back up sooner rather than later to try to shake the chemistry up in Tampa. Either way, though, the Crunch defense and goaltending seem to have it rolling now. They'll reconvene Friday against the Devils when I suspect there might be a roster change or three, because a defenseman may be going up, too.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-20-14 Lightning at Islanders

Sluggish Lightning nearly bailed out by Vasilevskiy.

TB-1
NYI-3

Andrei Vasilevskiy was brilliant. He stopped 45 shots tonight, only allowing a goal to an uncovered Tavares in the slot (no shame) and a tipped point shot by Lee (again, no shame). The Lightning would've lost this game 8-1, easily, without Vasilevskiy.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
9:16 TB Connolly (6), (Johnson, Barberio)
16:51 NYI Tavares (13), (Okposo, Bailey)
17:03 NYI Lee (7), (Hamonic, Nelson)
18:49 NYI Kulemin (6), (Clutterbuck)(EN)

Vasilevskiy was the game's third star.

Anyone in a Lightning jersey not named Vasilevskiy or Boyle probably didn't deserve to be wearing it the way they played tonight. I certainly hope there's a more innocuous explanation for what we witnessed tonight. Maybe the flu is running through this team, which was aggravated by Garrison leaving in the Second Period. I can't explain it, otherwise. The team looked slow. They made wave after wave of really idiotic turnovers. They looked physically and mentally fatigued to the extent that they didn't even seem to want to be there. Gudas and Carle looked like corpses out there, for crying out loud. Getting outshot 48-21 by anyone is just not acceptable, and in the absence of extenuating circumstances there needs to be a closed door meeting followed by a bag skate, because this just cannot happen.

Cedric Paquette was -1 with 2 penalty minutes 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 15:11. If Yzerman looks to make a shake up move, I wouldn't be shocked to see Paquette and Namestnikov trade places soon. Paquette took a bad offensive zone boarding call and he's seen his offensive contributions vanish while taking about 1 minor penalty a night. That means, sadly for him, he might have to be the one who gets shook in the shake up.

Jonathan Drouin had 1 hit in 13:19. He ended up getting himself pulled off the Stamkos line because they were generating nothing. Zero shots on goal and only one even attempted isn't good enough.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NCAA Game Night: 12-19-14

Team USA 5 vs No. 1 Boston University Terriers 2 (Exhibition)

D Anthony DeAngelo, USA: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
W Adam Erne, USA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG

D John MacLeod, BU: 0-0-1, -2, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 15 GP, 2-3-5, +6, 34 PIM
2013-2014 totals: 19 GP, 1-4-5, +1, 36 PIM

USA’s pre-World Junior Championship lineup defeated No. 1 Boston University in an exhibition game Friday, 5-2. Jack Eichel (2015) captained Team USA, which was odd considering he plays for BU normally. He scored a goal.

Anthony DeAngelo had an empty-net goal for USA, an extra positive considering the offensive defenseman was on the ice in a defensive situation. Fellow Lightning prospect Adam Erne, thought to be a lock to play for USA again, was on the fourth line and was one of three cuts after the game. He’ll return to Quebec while DeAngelo continues to secure a spot on the team. Media speculation is Erne was a victim of forward depth, but that’s odd considering Erne was on the team last year (though he had one assist in five games), provides a power forward presence, and is one of the better 19-year-olds in the world. Others have speculated Erne was an example of meritocracy, saying all spots must be earned from a clean slate.

For the Terriers, John MacLeod played but the defenseman did not factor into the scoring.

In other World Juniors news, congratulations to Brayden Point for making Team Canada. Going into the camps, Point was thought to be firmly on the bubble, whereas Erne was thought to be a lock.

ECHL Game Night: 12-19-14

Gwinnett Gladiators 3 at Florida Everblades 5

D Artem Sergeev, FLA: 1-0-1, +2, 0 PIM, 3 SOG, *FIRST STAR*
Season totals: 19 GP, 6-4-10, +9, 6 PIM, 31 SOG

Other Notables
G Allen York, FLA, Recalled to Syracuse (AHL)
Season totals: 15 GP, 12-2-0-1, 2.23 GAA, 0.906 SV%, 2 SO

F Kevin Lynch, FLA: 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 11 GP, 2-5-7, -6, 12 PIM, 16 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 10 GP, 1-0-1, -2, 10 PIM

F Jeff Costello, FLA: 1-0-1, E, 4 PIM, 2 SOG, *THRID STAR*
Season totals (ECHL): 15 GP, 5-3-8, +3, 24 PIM, 31 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM

F Mike Aviani, FLA: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 16 GP, 4-4-8, E, 11 PIM, 29 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM

Once again, Florida spotted Gwinnett two 1st period goals, but stormed back with four-straight goals to keep their seven-game win streak alive. At the head of the rally was Lightning defensive prospect Artem Sergeev who notched his sixth goal of the season, and goals in back-to-back games against the Gladiators. Sergeev was on the ice for three of Florida's five goals, earning First Star of the game. With 10 points in 19 games, Sergeev is on pace for a 20 goal/40 point season. Jeff Costello also scored in the 4-goal rally and earned Third Star honors. The Everblades now break for the holidays, not playing again until Dec 27th against Orlando.

Wichita Thunder 2 at Allen Americans 1

F Danick Gauthier, WIC: 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals (ECHL): 26 GP, 12-13-25, +1, 35 PIM, 89 SOG
Season totals (AHL): 1 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM

D Daniel Milan, WIC: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 26 GP, 0-5-5, -5, 53 PIM, 28 SOG

The Thunder are now on a three-game win streak after a scrappy road win against the Central Division leading Americans. Wichita looks to extend the streak Sunday afternoon against Quad City.

AHL Game Night: 12-19-14 Crunch at Wolf Pack

The yak is still on the loose.

SYR-2
HFD-0

Kristers Gudlevskis stopped all 24 shots he faced for the victory and his first shutout of the campaign. He's won his last 4 starts allowing just 3 total goals in the last 3 of those starts, while running his season save percentage back up to .906 in the process. Now things get very interesting in Syracuse, once Vasilevskiy returns, because this is what we expected coming into the year. These are two of the best prospect netminders around, and they'll be in a knock-down, drag-out for starts all season long. The competition is going to push both guys to play better than they ever thought possible. It's going to be great to see unfold.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
SYR Richard, (5) (Koekkoek), 2:12
SYR Namestnikov, (3) (Nesterov, Marchessault)

Third Period
NO SCORING

Gudlevskis and Tanner Richard were the game's first and second stars. As of this posting, Richard's +18 mark is second best in the AHL behind the +21 of Manchester's Nick Shore. I should also point out that, on top of the game winning helper he had tonight, Nikita Nesterov hasn't had a minus game in a full month, when he had a -1 outing on 11/19 against Hartford. He's been +9 since that game, taking him up to +9 for the year. He was -2 last year and the 13 points he has in 28 games this season is 3 off the 16 he posted as a rookie in 54 games last season. So, like Richard, here's a player who had some holes in his game who seems to be rounding the corner a bit. Nice to see. Slater Koekkoek, oh by the way, has helpers in 3 of the last 4 games.

Tomorrow, Syracuse draws Albany at home.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 12-19-14 Lightning at Devils

Lightning manage to wrestle 1 point out of the quicksand.

TB-2
NJ-3 (SO)

Evgeny Nabokov allowed 2 goals on 18 shots before allowing 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. I'll give him full marks for battling tonight, but that was hard to watch. The first goal was a fluky goal that he put into his own cage. Okay. But, the second goal cannot be allowed at any level of hockey and he got the benefit of 5 or 6 posts tonight on top of that. The Lightning have a real issue there, and the solution may be figuring out some way to shuttle one of the two good goaltenders they have in Syracuse up in back-to-back situations from here on out, which is a roster challenge, but may be necessary. You could've timed that second goal from shot to net with a sun dial it fluttered so slowly.

First Period
3:01 NJ Henrique (9), (Greene, Gomez)(PP)
15:17 NJ Elias (4), (Havlat, Henrique)

Second Period
14:55 TB Stamkos (19), (Callahan, Drouin)

Third Period
19:19 TB Kucherov (13), (Callahan, Garrison)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TB- NONE
NJ- Elias

Nikita Kucherov was the game's first star.

Glass half full: they managed to squeeze a point out of a game where they trailed New Jersey in the Third Period. That's no small feat, and part of climbing out of the big hole that they were in was one of the better passing displays we've seen in the last 3-4 weeks, especially in the Second Period. I also thought Radko Gudas, coming off a stomach bug, might've played his best game of the season tonight at both ends of the rink.

Glass half empty: the goaltending was bad. The power play might've actually been worse, though. 0-for-5 on the power play tonight and one was a key double minor in the Third Period while they were pushing to tie the game where they got nothing going. Nothing. At some point as the season progresses, Yzerman seriously needs to find a righty PP QB to acquire via trade. Nothing they're doing to try to free up Stamkos with lefties at center point is working, and it's becoming counterproductive trying to force set pieces his way or asking him to force passes back through the seam to Filppula, who can't do anything with them because he's not a shooter.

Cedric Paquette had 2 hits and 1 blocked shot in 12:39 and he also was 44% on draws.

Jonathan Drouin had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 21:15. Circle that ice time number. Playing with Stamkos for the full game, this was the first time Cooper really let Drouin out of the stable, and I think Stamkos in particular responded well with 10 shot attempts tonight. My big thing with Drouin now, though, is that team's are playing him as a pass first guy. He needs to shoot it more. 2 shots is more than he's been getting, but he only had 3 shot attempts total. I want to see him at a minimum of 4 shot attempts a game from here on out. Stamkos won't mind, Jonathan. 91 likes rebound goals, too.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Juniors Game Night: 12-18-14

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Shawinigan Cataractes 1 @ Sherbrooke Phoenix 2

C Cameron Darcy, SHR: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 8 SOG, 6/14 FO, 1 Hit, *First Star*
With Sherbrooke: 3 GP, 1-3-4, -3, 4 PIM
With Cape Breton: 21 GP, 1-13-14, -6, 14 PIM
Season totals: 24 GP, 2-16-18, -9, 18 PIM
2013-2014 Season: 65 GP, 35-47-82, +3, 51 PIM

Darcy extended his point streak to five games when he scored the game-winning goal for the Phoenix early in the third period. It was Darcy’s 100th career point and first goal with his new team.

Ontario Hockey League

Saginaw Spirit 2 @ Windsor Spitfires 1

W Cristiano DiGiacinto, WSR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Season totals: 26 GP, 9-6-15, -12, 43 PIM
2013-14 totals: 50 GP, 17-11-28, +8, 101 PIM

The Spits put up 38 shots on Spirit goalie Jake Paterson (Red Wings), but could only beat him once.

Notes: The following players remain out of their respective lineups:
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw) is with Team Canada for the World Junior Championships
Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia) and Adam Erne (Quebec) are with Team USA
Dominik Masin (Peterborough) is with Team Czech Republic
Ben Thomas (Calgary) remains out with a lower body injury

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