101 reasons to be proud of their regular season.
Anders Lindback stopped all 18 shots he faced and 3 of 3 shooters for the SO victory to deliver the Lightning home ice in the first round of the playoffs against Montreal. His toe save on a Backstrom 1-timer on a Third Period penalty kill was the stuff of legend. Big Anders is definitely getting hot at the right time of the year.
Lindback was named the first star of the game. The Lightning needed a win of any flavor to get home ice in the first round and, for the most part, they remained patient and didn't get too loose defensively trying to get the W. Washington looked like they wanted no part of the game and the Lightning dominated possession and shots (32-18), but with Holtby playing pretty well there was a chance the Lightning would start freelancing outside of their system and allow the Washington skill players to capitalize. They did not, fortunately, and Matt Carle delivered the one finish they needed to get the Lightning back to Tampa Bay on Wednesday for Game One against the Habs.
The Lightning finish the season with 101 points. Triple digits is impressive for any team. For a team with so many prospects who established themselves at the NHL level this year, though, it's unbelievable.
Mike Kostka had 1 hit and 3 blocked shots in 15:41 and was denied dekeing to his backhand in the penalty shot session.
Cody Kunyk had 2 shots and 1 hit and was 20% on draws in 10:12. He nearly set up Kucherov for the winner in the Third Period off some forechecking work in the corner. First impressions: smooth skater who will work hard in the corners and along the wall. First step could use a little attention, but couldn't we all use a little first step improvement? Should be a good add for Syracuse next season.
Cedric Paquette had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 16:19 and was 47% on draws. He nearly set up Callahan for a nice deflection goal off the rush, but there were moments you could see his lack of speed could be a vulnerability on the backcheck.
No. 1 Union Dutchmen 7 vs No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers 4
G Adam Wilcox, MIN: Loss, 42 saves on 48 shots
Season totals: 38 GP, 26-6-6, 1.97 GAA, .932 sv%, 4 SO
2012-2013 totals: 39 GP, 25-8-5, 1.88 GAA, .921 sv%, 3 SO
Minnesota fell short of their sixth national championship, losing in the finals to tiny Union College, 7-4. The Gophers held 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the game, but soft defensive play and ill-timed penalties did them in. Despite giving up six goals – a season high – Adam Wilcox was excellent for the Gophers (the last goal was an empty netter). As Barry Melrose said after the first period, if Wilcox was just average, the score would have been 8-2 after one period. The sixth goal was one he would have liked to have had back, however. Minnesota had pulled within a goal late in the third and Wilcox had an unscreened wrist shot go through him. At the 10-minute mark of the third he made two outstanding saves to keep it a 5-3 game.
Wilcox’s sophomore season is over and it was special even without the national championship. With the Lightning’s depth it goal, it would seem Wilcox would return for his junior season, but one never knows. He’s certainly talented enough to succeed in professional hockey next year. Congrats to Wilcox on an outstanding season.
*USCHO poll used
In a game marred by many physical altercations, the Syracuse Crunch offense had a breakout performance.
The Crunch took a three-goal lead in the first period, and continued to cruise through multiple incidents, as they topped the Toronto Marlies, 6-3, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Saturday.
"We played a good game," said Syracuse forward Brett Connolly, who finished with four points. "I think they embarrassed themselves."
Back to .500.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 36 shots for the victory.
SYR Angelidis, (12) (Ikonen, Connolly), 1:00 (PP)
SYR Paradis, (6) (DiSalvatore, Angelidis), 12:33
SYR Gourde, (6) (DiSalvatore, Connolly), 18:38 (PP)
TOR Carrick, (11) (Ross), 3:29
SYR Marchessault, (20) (Cote, Erne), 10:25
SYR Marchessault, (21) (Connolly, Cote), 12:38 (SH)
TOR Brennan, (23) (Ross, Carrick), 19:18
TOR McKegg, (18) (Marshall, Kozun), 4:09
SYR Connolly, (20) (Namestnikov, Ikonen), 17:17
Jonathan Marchessault, Brett Connolly, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. New Crunch forward Henri Ikonen managed his first two AHL points on helpers to bookend the scoring for Syracuse. The 4 point night for Connolly points to him potentially providing some depth options to Tampa Bay in the playoffs as well. As I said after last night's win, this team is figuring out some of its chemistry for next season, and guys like Gourde and Marchessault finding their grooves bodes well for a bounce back next year. The team is back to .500 with 4 games left in the regular season, and if they can finish with a winning record that will be a major accomplishment considering this franchise supplied 9 prospects who became full time NHLers in Tampa Bay this season.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.
The BP Mailbag is back after a little hiatus and there are lots of questions to get to.
Let’s get started:
@BoltProspects If you had the choice between Dan Boyle of Matt Niskanen to bring in during the offseason, who would you pick and why?
@BoltProspects is it just me or is Dan Boyle destined to go to Tampa? A perfect replacement for Salo as a RD playing with Hedman. But it's a short term solution.. You need a longterm partner for Victor. Do you think Sustr has the potential? ?#BPMailbag
Both Niskanen and Boyle are righty puckmovers, which the Lightning desperately need as part of their core. Gudas is a righty, but is a peoplemover more than a puckmover. As for Sustr, he has potential to be a fine 2-way defenseman. We have had some healthy discussions in the BP virtual staffroom about his offensive potential – over 30 points or under? I think under, Pete thinks over. I don’t see him as having the high end offensive IQ that other players like Hedman and Boyle have, and I think he settles in as a 4/5 in the future with limited power play time. Regardless, Sustr has a ways to go before he hits NHL maturity (250-300 games) and may or may not be an offensive catalyst as a player.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Halifax Mooseheads 4 @ Gatineau Olympiques 1
Mooseheads win best-of-7 second round series, 4-1
C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: 1-2-3, E, 0 PIM, 1 Hit, 4 SOG, 11/30 FO
Playoff totals: 9 GP, 9-18-27, +7, 8 PIM
Season totals: 46 GP, 29-70-108, +49, 43 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM
Halifax advanced to the league semifinals with a 4-1 win Friday night in Gatineau. Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin had three more points to maintain his three-points-per-game playoff pace. The Mooseheads gave up the first goal, but had a 3-1 lead by the end of the second period. Drouin’s goal came on the power play. He extended his multi-point game streak to 12 and his point streak to 22 games. No game stars were listed. Halifax will wait to see who they play next. Only 2-seeded Halifax and top-seeded Baie-Comeau have advanced to the semifinals.
Ontario Hockey League
Barrie Colts 1 @ North Bay Battalion 4
Battalion lead best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinals, 3-2
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 12 GP, 3-1-4, +2, 12 PIM
Season totals: 55 GP, 4-26-30, +12, 56 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM
Playoff totals: 10 GP: 3-2-5, +1, 13 PIM
Season totals: 63 GP, 11-25-36, +22, 121 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
The home team won again in the series, this time with North Bay holding serve at home vs Barrie, 4-1. Neither Lightning prospect registered a point in the game. The Battalion can close out the series with a road win in Barrie on Sunday. This is the only series still going in the AHL; Guelph, Erie, and Oshawa have all advanced to the conference finals.
During regulation, it was all about the dueling power plays.
Both Syracuse and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton scored a pair of power play goals in the first two periods, but the Penguins pushed past the Crunch in a shootout, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
Although it's late for a playoff push, Syracuse has points in seven of its last eight games.
"I've been pretty happy with our game overall," said Crunch coach Rob Zettler. "We're finding a little more offense lately. We're getting some more pucks to the net, and we've got some more finishers on our team now too, which is a good thing."
One more to go.
Kristers Gudlevskis stopped 36 of 38 for the victory in his first NHL shot. He was impressive. His quickness and athleticism are striking, and he showed a competitiveness and unwillingness to give up on plays that is also the hallmark of great netminders.
3:55 TB Palat (23), (Killorn)(PP)
13:46 CBJ Jenner (16), (Johnson, Johansen)(PP)
14:54 TB Brewer (3), (Paquette)
18:06 TB Brewer (4), (Kostka, Panik)
16:37 CBJ Savard (5), (Jenner, Comeau)
Gudlevskis, Eric Brewer, and Ryan Callahan were the game's three stars. It wasn't the best effort the Lightning have put forward, but Gudlevskis played well and the team capitalized on some shaky netminding by Columbus' McElhinney at the other end of the rink. It wasn't without a price, as Victor Hedman left the game early with a lower body injury and Ondrej Palat left after getting his bell rung on an open ice hit, but at this hour their absence seems more precautionary than anything else (although that's always subject to change).
The Lightning now have 99 points with 1 game to go. Win and they get home ice against Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs. Win and they break the 100 point barrier. Win, and they'll cap off one of the best regular seasons in team history.
Mike Kostka had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 20:35. He was forced into extra ice time with Hedman out of the game early, and he handled it reasonably well, even getting his 3rd point in 2 games since returning. Win if you can, survive if Mike Kostka lets you.
Cedric Paquette had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 12:46. He was also 64% on 14 draws, including several wins while the Lightning were trying to stave off Columbus with their goaltender pulled at the end of the game. Good debut by Dump Truck, and I thought the scorekeepers cheated him out of a few hits because I counted 2-3 more. The young man's got a future on the team's fourth line.
Playing out the string, Crunch still sorting out themselves for next season.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 31 shots before allowing 2 of 5 to convert in the penalty shot session for the Shootout loss.
WBS Kobasew, (9) (Ebbett, Dumoulin), 4:46 (PP)
SYR Namestnikov, (19) (Korobov, Connolly), 8:18 (PP)
SYR DiSalvatore, (11) (Marchessault, Mormina), 16:09 (PP)
WBS Kobasew, (10) (Machacek, Dumoulin), 7:28 (PP)
WBS- Zlobin, Machachek
Syracuse remains stuck at 1 game under .500 with 5 games left in their season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
KHL Eastern Conference Finals
(1)Magnitogorsk 1 vs. (4)Ufa 0 (OT)
Magnitogorsk Wins the Series 4-1
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, SO, 24/24, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Regular season totals: 51 GP, 30-12-8, 9 SO, 1.88 GAA, .940 sv%
Playoff totals: 14 GP, 12-2-0, 2 SO, 1.66 GAA, .944 sv%
Andrey Vasilevskiy, UFA, OT Loss, 37/38, 0.98 GAA, .974 sv%
Regular season totals: 28 GP, 14-8-5, 3 SO, 2.21 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 18 GP, 9-9-0, 1 SO, 1.99 GAA, .934 sv%
Yaroslav Khabarov's goal 1:14 into Overtime broke a scoreless tie and sent Magnitogorsk to the Gagarin Cup Finals by virtue of their 1-0, Game Five win over Ufa. Vasily Koshechkin stopped all 24 shots he faced in the match for his second shutout of the series. At the other end, Andrey Vasilevskiy sparkled making 37 saves in the hard luck loss. You simply cannot ask for more from a 19 year old goaltender. You can't.