The Bolt Prospects Podcast, Episode 80

This week’s “Kevin Weekes Edition” of the Bolt Prospects Podcast includes the following topics:

· “Shady 80”
· Goalie trade after goalie trade after goalie trade
· New/old Lightning identity showing
· Mock expansion draft protected list(s)
· #BPMailbag (Johnson/Drouin in expansion danger? … B2B’s … Syracuse goaltending issues … Prospects first in line for TB spots next year)

Wilcox, Penalty Kill Lift Crunch Over Phantoms


By Jeremy Houghtaling

Despite having to weather the storm from the Phantoms for long stretches in the second and third periods, the Crunch emerged with the win.

Goalie Adam Wilcox made 48 saves, the penalty kill was flawless and Matt Taormina’s goal late in the third lifted Syracuse to a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley at the Onondaga County War Memorial Wednesday.

“I think we have to give credit tonight to our goalie, obviously. He was our best player out there,” Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx said. “Our PK was phenomenal too. I think (Erik) Condra, (Yanni) Gourde, (Michael) Bournival, (Cory) Conacher, (Matthew) Peca, (Adam) Erne with our group defensemen and our best PKer, which is our goalie, were very good. (The Phantoms) have a good power play, and they did an outstanding job at killing penalties.”

AHL Game Night: 12-9-16 Devils at Crunch

Crunch top Devils in key 4 point game atop the division standings.

ALB-2
SYR-4

Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 27 shots for the victory.

First Period
8:08 ALB Quenneville (8), (Mandat)
14:07 SYR Richard (7), (Condra, Dotchin)

Second Period
11:04 ALB Coleman (6), (Pietila)

Third Period
5:42 SYR Erne (6), (Peca, Thomas)(PP)
14:36 SYR Gourde (7), (Dotchin, Condra)
18:42 SYR Condra (5), (Gourde, Dotchin)(EN)

Yanni Gourde, Adam Erne, and Jake Dotchin were the game's three stars. Dotchin with assists in triplicate is making waves at right side defense with Witkowski shuttling back and forth to the big club and Blujus out injured.

Syracuse pulls 3 points clear atop the North Division.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

Liiga Game Day: 12-9-16

Karpat 3 vs. SaiPa 1
Saku Salminen, SaiPa, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 21 GP, 2-2-4, -6, 39 PIM

Saku Salminen was -1 in 11:44 of ice time in SaiPa's 3-1 loss to Karpat. Ex-NHL'er Jiri Tlusty had a goal in the win for Karpat.

CHL Game Night: 12-9-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Victoriaville Tigres 4 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 3 (OT)

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 0-0-0, -1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 2 Hits
Season Totals: 28 GP, 16-6-22, +3, 27 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 48 GP, 7-12-19, -5, 86 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-1-2, E, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 28 GP, 25-20-45, +23, 29 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Saint John had a 3-1 lead before the Tigres rebounded, tying the game in the final minute of regulation and winning in overtime. Joseph scored his 25th goal of the season, which is two more than anyone else in the league.

Ontario Hockey League

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 7 @ Niagara IceDogs 4

W Boris Katchouk, SSM: 0-0-0, -1, 7 PIM, 4 SOG
Season: 27 GP, 13-11-24, +5, 22 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 63 GP, 24-27-51, +7, 61 PIM

W/C Christopher Paquette, NIA: 1-2-3, +2, 2 PIM, 6 SOG
Season Totals: 27 GP, 11-10-21, -3, 14 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 57 GP, 5-11-16, -6, 18 PIM

Paquette had a 3-point night as the IceDogs beat Katchouk and the Soo, 7-4. Katchouk fought Kyle Langdon. Zach Senyshyn had a hat trick for the Greyhounds.

Ottawa 67’s 3 @ Peterborough Petes 5

D Matt Spencer, PBO: 0-2-2, +2, 4 PIM, 0 SOG
Season Totals: 21 GP, 3-9-12, +6, 25 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 60 GP, 5-19-24, -4, 46 PIM

W Jonne Tammela, PBO: Did not play
Season Totals: 2 GP, 1-0-1, +1, 2 PIM
2015-2016 (Finland): 37 GP, 5-8-13, +10, 16 PIM

Spencer has three points in his last two games.

Sarnia Sting 0 @ Saginaw Spirit 3

W Mitchell Stephens, SAG: Did not play
Season Totals: 22 GP, 11-15-26, +13, 14 PIM
2015-2016 Totals: 39 GP, 20-18-38, -3, 14 PIM

Stephens remains out of the Saginaw lineup with an undisclosed injury.

NHL Game Night: 12-8-16 Canucks at Lightning

Shaky Lightning crumble under adversity.

VAN-5
TB-1

Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 20 shots for the loss before being lifted for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who allowed 1 goal on 10 shots the rest of the way. Bishop had shown signs of returning to his Vezina candidate form last week, but tonight was a tragic disaster. He was nowhere near square to the puck on Vancouver's first goal and he scored an own goal pushing a puck he was attempting to cover into his own net on a shot off the end boards on Vancouver's second tally. Bishop, in previous years, has been rock solid in First Periods and generally reliable when it comes to making timely saves. Not at all the case this year. Nope. And, this team is simply too fragile to be getting poor goaltending right now.

First Period
3:50 VAN Skille (1), (Gudbranson)
9:03 VAN Gudbranson (1), (unassisted)

Second Period
6:01 VAN Megna (2), (Biega, Tryamkin)
11:46 TB Drouin (4), (Filppula, Witkowski)
19:59 VAN Megna (3), (Sedin, Granlund)

Third Period
13:58 VAN Skille (2), (Gaunce)

After a seemingly marathon stretch where the Lightning barely had more than a day off in between games the weary Lightning finally had 3 days off before this one against a Vancouver team that was not exactly feasting in the standings. The team came out the first handful of shifts in the game and were dominant and looked absolutely the better team, until Jack Skille got matched up 1-on-1 on Nikita Kucherov backing up for a pinching defenseman. Skille turns the corner with a power move and beats Bishop, who was not square to the puck on the shot, and the Lightning momentum was cooked. The ball of yarn starts to unravel. Minutes later Bishop pushes an innocuous shot off the end boards into his own cage to put the Lightning down 2-0, and here we go again. The Lightning are a difficult muddle of self-inflicted mistakes and awful bounces right now, wrapped in a flimsy tattered sheath of inconsistent goaltending. I wanted to say the Lightning had lost their process in this game once adversity hit, but that's not entirely the case. They had 41 shots on goal and outchanced Vancouver. But the mental mistakes that creeped in with turnovers around the opposing blueline and in the neutral zone leading to odd man rushes and the piss poor coverage by backchecking players against the rush revealed that the Lightning have not fully returned to the structure that helped make them an elite club over the last 2+ seasons. The kill shot in this game, which was an awful turnover in the neutral zone to allow a 2-on-1 goal with less than 2 seconds left in the Second Period to put the game out of reach, was the postcard example of a lot of what's wrong outside of the Lightning crease these days.

Where do we go from here? The Lightning will be in a hole at the end of this 10 game segment, when it comes to playoff pacing. Even if they win out over the last 2 games, they'll be at least 2 points in the hole, and the defending Stanley Cup Champions are coming to town. I don't relish seeing what the results of this measuring stick game will be, quite frankly. What needs to change? A goaltender needs to start making some timely saves and help this team find its backbone and its confidence and hope that helps the team play better structure in its own end and manage the puck better coming out of their own end.

Brayden Point was +1 with 5 shots in 15:32. Instincts are good. Skill level is good. Shot isn't NHL caliber yet. His release is plenty quick, but he doesn't have the steam to score on NHL goaltenders consistently. Give him a summer or two to work on it and he'll start putting away 20-30 a season easy, I think.

Luke Witkowski had a helper and 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 13:45. Congratulations to Witkowski on earning his first NHL point.

Joel Vermin had 2 shots and 1 hit in 12:49.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

KHL Game Day: 12-8-16

St. Petersburg 2 vs. Dynamo Moscow 1 (SO)
Nikita Gusev, St. Petersburg, DNP
Season totals: 36 GP, 16-30-46, +29, 6 PIM

Ex-NHL'er Ilya Kovalchuk had a helper and scored the winner in the penalty shot session to pace SKA to a 2-1 Shootout victory over Dynamo Moscow. Nikita Gusev was reportedly injured in SKA's last match and will miss two weeks for SKA.

CHL Game Night: 12-7-16

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Moncton Wildcats 0 @ Saint John Sea Dogs 4

W Bokondji Imama, SJ: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 1 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 27 GP, 16-6-22, +4, 27 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 48 GP, 7-12-19, -5, 86 PIM

W Mathieu Joseph, SJ: 1-0-1, +2, 2 PIM, 2 SOG, 0 Hits, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 26 GP, 24-19-43, +23, 29 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 58 GP, 33-40-73, +35, 57 PIM

Joseph and Imama both scored and rookie Alex D’Orio notched his first career shutout in the Q as the Dogs beat provincial rival Moncton.

Ontario Hockey League

Niagara IceDogs 3 @ Sarnia Sting 4 (SO)

W/C Christopher Paquette, NIA: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season Totals: 26 GP, 10-8-18, -5, 12 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 57 GP, 5-11-16, -6, 18 PIM

W Taylor Raddysh, Erie: 0-3-3, +2, 0 PIM, 4 SOG, *Second Star*
Season Totals: 28 GP, 23-38-61, +37, 17 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 67 GP, 24-49-73, +19, 18 PIM

Raddysh had his 17th multi-point game of the year, notching three assists against Paquette and Niagara.

Western Hockey League

Calgary Hitmen 4 @ Saskatoon Blades 3

D Libor Hajek, SAS: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 29 GP: 1-10-11, -7, 43 PIM
2015-2016 Season: 69 GP, 3-23-26, -19, 76 PIM

Hajek scored his first of the season to open the game’s scoring, and Saskatoon had a 2-0 lead mid-way through the first period but wound up losing, 4-3.

AHL Game Night: 12-7-16 Phantoms at Crunch

A goaltender rises...

LV-2
SYR-4

Adam Wilcox allowed 2 goals on 50 (not a typo) shots for the victory. Wilcox is now 9-3-0 on the season with 1 shutout, a 2.13 GAA, and a .924 sv%. His 9 wins now matches his total number of victories from all of his rookie pro campaign. Tonight was his statement of intent to take over the starting job in Syracuse permanently. I don't think, ultimately, he's going to lose in his bid.

First Period
11:57 LV Bardreau (3), (Knight)
12:29 SYR Peca (5), (Condra, Erne)
12:50 SYR Dotchin (2), (Gourde, Halmo)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
10:40 LV Bardreau (4), (Knight, O'Neill)
17:25 SYR Taormina (7), (Erne, Condra)
19:39 SYR Gourde (6), (Condra)(EN)(SH)

Wilcox and Matt Taormina were the game's first and second stars.

When the Lightning organization's farm team last won a championship with the Norfolk Admirals, they did so with a team that was fortunate enough to have two high-quality AHL starting goaltenders in Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus. Coming into this season, with a Syracuse roster stocked to the gills with veteran firepower, it's always seemed the limiting factor would be goaltending where it wasn't clear the Crunch even had one high-quality AHL starter. Now that we're well past the quarter post of the season, though, it's becoming clear one of the two netminders in Syracuse's tandem has risen up and clearly separated himself from the other. Adam Wilcox doesn't have all the physical gifts that Kristers Gudlevskis does, but goaltending is only partially about pure athleticism. Like boxing, goaltending is also a sweet science of understanding angles, body positioning, reading your opponents, and the ebb and flow of the game. Gudlevskis has struggled to find his calm place in the sweet science of the goaltending game. Adam Wilcox is finding his comfort zone inside the maelstrom around his crease and he's made his move. The numbers don't lie. Wilcox is now 7th in the AHL in GAA and 8th in save percentage.

Syracuse moves 1 point up on Albany for first in the North Division with 2 games in hand.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

MHL Game Day: 12-6-16

KHK MVD Jr. 1 vs. Yaroslavl Jr. 3
Oleg Sosunov, Yaroslavl Jr., 0-0-0, +1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 22 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 50 PIM

Oleg Sosunov had his second straight plus game in Loko Jr.'s 3-1 win over KHK MVD Jr. Sosunov is closing in on evening up his plus-minus rating for the season.

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