Lots of questions this week, most of which involve speculating on future Lightning lineups. I'm the Miss Cleo of Lightningland, apparently.
Here we go...
What's the deal with the Reto Suri situation and where would he be on the depth chart? (@awoundedzebra1)
Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this week that Suri is indeed on the Lightning’s radar, but the club can’t talk to him until Suri, his agent, and the club work out an agreement enabling the 2014 Olympian to get out of his current contract. Suri told RTS.ch that he expects to sign with Tampa Bay.
Swisshockeynews.ch reported Suri got an out clause, but he hasn’t signed it and will take the Olympic break to consider it. The conditions are that if Suri returns to Switzerland from the fall until 2017, he has to return to his club team, Zug, and if he comes back mid-season, Zug only has to pay him half his due amount.
The site points out that Suri can wait until his Zug contract is over in 2015 and be free to do what he wants.
Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 4 goals on 25 shots for the loss. It's not a great stat line, but it's irrelevant if the team in front of your goaltender can't get any goals.
WBS Thompson, (4) (Carman, Letourneau-Leblond), 2:11
WBS Kostopoulos, (16) (Samuelsson, Despres), 12:23
WBS Zolnierczyk, (14) (Dumoulin, McNeill), 1:31
WBS Manderson, (1) (Kostopoulos, Despres), 7:51
Right now this team can't consistently score goals and they really, really can't keep it out of the back of their own net. What Zettler needs to sell his team on is that if they focus on the latter the former will come to them. That's a hard thing to get straightened out, though, when you just can't seem to get the positive result to give you the right feedback for your work.
Syracuse remains 10 points out of 8th in the Eastern Conference, 14th out of 15 teams.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Khabarovsk 1 vs. Magnitogorsk 6
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, 40/41, 1.00 GAA, .976 sv%
Season totals: 48 GP, 29-11-7, 7 SO, 1.96 GAA, .938 sv%
Ex-Blue Jackets draft pick Sergei Mozyakin had 2 goals and 3 points as Magnitogorsk thumped Khabarovsk 6-1. Ex-Lightning draft pick Dmitri Kazionov also had a helper in the match for Magnitgorsk. Metallurg's triumph came in spite of a 41-35 shot deficit thanks to Vasily Koshechkin's 40 stops.
Novokuznetsk 3 vs. Ufa 1
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, DNP
Season totals: 25 GP, 11-8-5, 2 SO, 2.37 GAA, .919 sv%
Andrey Vasilevskiy sat backup to Vladimir Sokhatsky in Ufa's 3-1 loss to Novokuznetsk. Veteran Evgeny Lapenkov led the way for Novosibirsk with a pair of goals.
Sometimes it's a game that comes down to little things.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 26 shots for the loss. He didn't look sharp to me tonight, and probably wants Kadri's first goal back. He just looked unsettled and seemed to be fighting it, whereas Bernier at the other end looked rock solid making 40 stops.
1:49 TOR Kadri (13), (unassisted)
9:47 TOR Kadri (14), (Lupul, Gunnarsson)
13:13 TB Carle (2), (Palat, Kucherov)
17:12 TB Barberio (4), (Palat, Crombeen)
15:57 TOR van Riemsdyk (21), (Kessel, Bozak)
The Lightning probably deserved better than they got out of this game. They outshot Toronto by more than a 4:3 margin, had the better of the balance of play, and hit 3 posts on their power play chances alone. Still, sometimes, you lose games because the other team's goaltender plays well and you make a few mistakes. Heck, New Jersey's lived off of it for years. Toronto's first and third goals came off of giveaways with the first Kadri goal compounded by a less than stellar goaltending effort. Toronto's second goal came on an innocuous looking play off the side boards where Kadri caught Hedman flat footed and made him look stupid on a little toe drag to get a break. Three mistakes end up in the back of your net and you lose. It's not something they should dwell on too long. They didn't play a terrible game. But, they do need to tighten up and shrink their number of errors, because all things being equal they left a point or two on the ice tonight.
Mark Barberio had a goal, 2 shots, and 2 blocked shots in 12:52. Somewhat of a classic Barberio performance. He gave away the puck in the neutral zone leading to Toronto's first goal. That's bad. The good news is that he was very assertive offensively afterwards trying to atone for the mistake and eventually got the goal to tie the contest up at 2-2 off of a goalmouth scrum. That's improvement, in my eyes, from earlier in the season. Barberio didn't hang his head or play scared after the mistake. He stayed in the fight and got a big goal. That's good.
J.T. Brown had 5 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 10:16. Toronto had no answer for his speed. None. He almost slipped a First Period 2-on-1 5-hole on Bernier that ended up finding the post and he was dangerous throughout the game. You just wish he could find the finish and make something out of all the opportunities he produces on nights like this.
Nikita Kucherov had a helper and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes in 10:53. It seemed like a less active night for Kucherov and zero attempted shots on goal seems to confirm that.
After skating in a red practice jersey Tuesday, Richard Panik reiterated his intentions -- he came to play.
In his first game of the season with the Syracuse Crunch Saturday, the 6-3 Slovakian winger posted an assist before absorbing a thundering check by the Hershey Bears’ Tyson Strachan. Panik quickly got up from the hit, and instead of taking the game off Sunday to rest and recuperate an apparent upper body injury, he was back on the ice against the Sound Tigers Sunday.
“He gamed it out against Bridgeport,” said Crunch coach Rob Zettler.
Astana 4 vs. Khanty-Mansiysk 3
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 4 SOG
Season totals: 40 GP, 7-6-13, -4, 10 PIM
January may well have been the turning point of Nikita Gusev's young KHL career. The diminutive sniper scored his 7th goal of the season in 15:21 of ice time in Yugra's 4-3 loss to Astana. Ex-Lightning forward Brandon Bochenski scored the game winning goal for Astana while former NHLer Nik Antropov added 1 goal and 1 assist to Astana's cause.
Dynamo Moscow 2 vs. Bratislava 3
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, Win, 31/33, 2.00 GAA, .939 sv%
Season totals: 37 GP, 15-15-7, 2 SO, 2.88 GAA, .898 sv%
Ex-Lightning first rounder Vladimir Mihalik assisted on former NHL'er Miroslav Satan's shorthanded, game winning goal in Bratislava's 3-2 win over Dynamo Moscow. Ex-Lightning draft pick Marek Kvapil had a helper in defeat for Dynamo.
Is the party starting to wind down? With the Lightning transitioning to a more youthful team and injuries forcing more call-ups than originally anticipated, our Bolt Prospects Midterm Rankings will take on a decidedly different feel. With the likes of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Radko Gudas becoming full-time NHLers, the list seems a little thinner this time around. Still, this year's Midterm list is still top-heavy with some of the finest NHL prospects you'll find anywhere in the land. With several other prospects very close to graduating from prospect status on the site, though, and the next wave of prospects struggling a bit in Syracuse, now is an excellent time for readers to reflect on what an amazing past couple of years the Lightning pipeline has had. From Norfolk's record-breaking winning streak and Calder Cup championship to the Syracuse Crunch's Eastern Conference crown and Tyler Johnson's emergence as a Calder Trophy candidate in the NHL, these were good days the likes of which don't come around often. Appreciate them.
In addition to a mailbag (check), I’ve wanted to do a regular blog entry, jotting down some thoughts that come to me usually at really inconvenient times. There are few things as frustrating than being in a meeting at work and thinking, “Oh THAT’S what they’re planning with Cedric Paquette!” These are too long for Twitter and I want to leave the mailbag to reader questions. So, here goes… some random thoughts on the week in the Lightning organization… aka TampaCuse (I really should have copyrighted that when I had the chance, especially after Jon Cooper used it).
Vladivostok 2 vs. Magnitogorsk 1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Loss, 25/27, 2.05 GAA, .926 sv%
Season totals: 47 GP, 28-11-7, 7 SO, 1.98 GAA, .937 sv%
Former Erie Otter Justin Hodgman scored the game winning goal on a penalty shot in Vladivostok's 2-1 squeaker over Magnitogorsk. Longtime KHL star Danis Zaripov assisted on Metallurg's lone goal.
Novosibirsk 3 vs. Ufa 4 (SO)
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, SO Win, 25/28, 2.77 GAA, .893 sv%
Season totals: 25 GP< 11-8-5, 2 SO, 2.37 GAA, .919 sv%
Andrey Vasilevskiy stopped 3 of 5 shooters to help Ufa overcome Novosibirsk 4-3. All 3 of Ufa's shootout goals were scored by former Senators draft pick Igor Mirnov. Defenseman Alexei Vasilevskiy, scored the game opening goal for Ufa. It was the older Vasilevskiy's first KHL goal. Ex-Lightning draft pick Alexei Glukhov also lit the lamp for Ufa in the win.
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 January 27, 2014 is … Dylan Blujus, D, North Bay Battalion (OHL – Canada).
Long ago the great philosopher Hugh Anthony Cregg III stated, “If this is it, please let me know.”
Perhaps you remember him by his stage name, Huey Lewis. We aren’t sure if he was ever informed if “it” was indeed love or not, but we’re going to borrow his inquisitive statement for this week’s Prospect of the Week, Dylan Blujus.