Now for Part 2 of this week’s mailbag, which was pretty full. Also, there is no literal mailbag. It’s all a lie.
Do you see Vasilevskiy as the backup in TB or the starter in SYR next season? (@boltsjolts)
I can’t see him in Tampa for a few reasons: Lindback will likely be under contract and Vasilevskiy needs games. Give him and Gudlevskis a year in Syracuse to split games and compete against each other while furthering their development. The only way I see Vasilevskiy in Tampa is if there’s an injury, and even then it could be a situation where he and Gudlevskis split as the No. 3 so one is getting games in Syracuse. Stay patient for at least another year. Bishop’s an unrestricted free agent in two off-seasons and who knows what the plan will be. The important thing is TB has options.
What do you think the lightning will do at the deadline?(@tfernandez2190)
Mike Angelidis accepted his teammates' congratulations and then leaned in for a conversation with one of his team's rookies.
The Syracuse Crunch captain, having opened the scoring 9:30 into the first period, wanted to let Tanner Richard know his work on the goal -- battling through a check and making the pass -- wasn't going unnoticed.
"I said 'That's a great second effort, that's all you,'" Angelidis said. "When you see a young guy pulling out a second effort like that, you just try to get him going and give him confidence."
Richard finished with a pair of assists for his first multi-point pro game, as the Crunch topped the Hershey Bears, 3-2, at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"I thought he was moving his feet a little bit more," said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "That's the biggest thing for Tanner, when he's stationary he's not effective. When he's moving his feet, he can be really effective."
Bratislava 1 vs. Vladivostok 6
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, Loss, 23/29, 6.00 GAA, .793 sv%
Season totals: 33 GP, 13-15-5, 2 SO, 3.07 GAA, .893 sv%
Ex-Devils first rounder Nicklas Bergfors had 1 goal and 1 assist to joint the ranks of 5 Vladivostok players who had multi-point nights in their 6-1 clubbing of Slovan Bratislava.
It was a postal convention at the Forum.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 30 shots but also allowed 1 of 2 shooters to convert in the penalty shot session for the SO loss. He got a ton of help from his red iron friends, as did the Islanders' goaltender, Poulin, at the other end.
5:45 TB St Louis (21), (Filppula, Johnson)(PP)
18:22 NYI Vanek (17), (Nielsen, Tavares)(PP)
Bishop and Matt Carle were the game's second and third stars.
This was one of those games where neither team could get a bounce in an evenly played contest. Each team must've struck iron 4-5 times a piece, with the deciding misfortune being Filppula striking the post flush on the Lightning's first shootout attempt. Overall, the Lightning put together a better effort than they did in New York or Columbus in recent nights. They had, overall, about 45 minutes of pretty good hockey sandwiched around a plodding Second Period where it became clear the team was feeling the fatigue of their recent travel schedule. They're in the middle of a little marathon stretch of the schedule and they'll just need to keep grinding out points. There's not much else they can do.
Surprised Carle got the 3rd star over Hedman. Hedman had 6 shots on goal and was impressive pushing the offensive side of his game all night long.
Mark Barberio had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:43. He oscillates between offensive zone promise and defensive zone turnovers, but throughout it all: magnificent hair.
J.P. Cote had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 9:52. He showed some nice offensive instincts jumping up into the rush and dishing off to the RW circles to Filppula for a chance. Had his pass been a little flatter Valtteri probably would've potted it.
J.T. Brown had 2 shots and 2 blocked shots in 13:21 and rang a post like the Liberty Bell on a breakaway chance set up by line mate Kucherov early in the Second Period.
Richard Panik had 2 shots and 2 hits in 10:54. As a spare forward, his ice time was disjointed but he had a pretty good shift in the Third Period guiding a puck deep out of danger, forechecking, and then back checking at the other end to break up an opportunity.
Nikita Kucherov was very dangerous tonight with 2 shots in 13:07. He had a good one-timer opportunity on the PP, sent in Brown on a breakaway, and set up Thompson for a nice opportunity where Nate failed to pull the trigger and didn't even manage a shot or pass.
Ontario Hockey League
Barrie Colts 4 @ North Bay Battalion 3 (SO)
D Jake Dotchin, BAR: 0-0-0, E, 4 PIM
Season totals: 40 GP, 9-16-25, +15, 85 PIM
2012-13 totals: 66 GP, 4-18-22, E, 81 PIM
D Dylan Blujus, NB: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM
Season totals: 30 GP, 3-11-14, -5, 36 PIM
2012-13 totals: 68 GP, 2-27-29, -8, 57 PIM
Barrie outshot North Bay 15-10 in the third period and 3-0 in overtime, but needed the shootout to top the Battalion, 4-3.
Kingston Frontenacs 3 @ Niagara IceDogs 6
W Henri Ikonen, KGN: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Season totals: 31 GP, 13-31-44, +14, 29 PIM
2012-13 totals: 61 GP, 22-29-51, +2, 30 PIM
Ikonen had his 14-game point streak snapped in a 6-3 road loss to Niagara.
Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds 6 @ Windsor Spitfires 0
D Slater Koekkoek, WSR: 0-0-0, -4, 0 PIM
Season totals: 43 GP, 10-25-35, +31, 30 PIM
2012-13 totals: 42 GP, 6-23-29, -24, 28 PIM
Windsor has been outscored 15-0 over their last two games after a 6-0 loss to the Soo on Thursday. The Spits lost 9-0 to Erie their last game out. New Windsor captain Slater Koekkoek is -7 in those two games. He’s fallen from first to fifth in the league in plus/minus.
Khanty-Mansiysk 3 vs. Donetsk 1
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 35 GP, 5-4-9, -5, 10 PIM
Nikita Gusev was -1 in a big 18:13 of ice time in Yugra's 3-1 win over Donetsk. Yugra chased former NHLer Michael Leighton in the Second Period after he allowed 2 goals on 9 shots for the loss.
Chelyabinsk 5 vs. Ufa 3
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, Loss, 16/20, 4.08 GAA, .800 sv%
Season totals: 21 GP, 10-7-4, 1 SO, 2.42 GAA, .919 sv%
It was a rare rough night for Andrey Vasilevskiy as he allowed 4 goals on 20 shots in Ufa's 5-3 loss to Traktor Chelyabinsk. Ex-NHLer Nikita Filatov had a goal in the loss for Ufa.
Nizhnekamsk 3 vs. Magnitogorsk 5
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, 31/34, 3.00 GAA, .912 sv%
Season totals: 43 GP, 26-9-7, 7 SO, 1.95 GAA, .938 sv%
Ex-Lightning farmhand Dan Sexton had a goal for Nizhnekamsk in their 5-3 loss to Magnitogorsk. Metallurg got a goal from ex-Red Wings farmhand Francis Pare in the win.
Lots of mailbag questions this week, so let’s get right to them:
With all of the young, small forwards in the system, and with Drouin and Kucherov ready to be the 2 small forwards on the top six in 2 years, do you think that they attempt to re-sign St. Louis or do they let him walk when his contract expires next year? (Donnie D via BP Messageboard)
Yzerman haters won’t believe me, but I think it’s up to Marty. If Marty wants to play for another year or two, I don’t see how Yzerman keeps him off the roster (stop laughing, haters, it’s a lot harder to make Team Canada than it is an NHL club). This is coming from someone who wasn’t surprised by Marty’s omission from Team Canada. As long as Marty will accept a cap-friendly contract and is an asset on the ice, I don’t see why he’s not re-signed. I also, respectfully, don’t think Drouin is in the same “small” category as he’s basically about 6’ tall and plays with a big base.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
Charlottetown Islanders 1 @ Halifax Mooseheads 5
C/W Jonathan Drouin, HAL: 0-2-2, +1, 6 SOG, 0 Hits, 19/24 FO
Season totals: 24 GP, 17-35-52, +19, 22 PIM
2011-2012 Season: 49 GP, 41-64-105, +48, 32 PIM
Drouin played his first game for Halifax in more than a month after missing time due to the World Junior Championships. He had two assists while having a good night in the faceoff circle.
Bratislava 3 vs. Khabarovsk 2
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, Win, 25/27, 2.00 GAA, .926 sv%
Season totals: 32 GP, 13-14-5, 2 SO, 2.97 GAA, .897 sv%
Ex-Lightning first rounder Vladimir Mihalik and ex-NHLer Miroslav Satan both assisted on Libor Hudacek's game winning goal 7:26 into the Third Period in Slovan's 3-2 win over Khabarovsk. Slovan is still 10 points out of the 8th spot in the KHL Western Conference behind Yaroslavl.
Thank you, Al Trautwig.
Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 34 shots in his return to the Lightning crease for the victory. He had a little luck with posts and crossbars but looked really sharp and, just as important, the Rangers decided to attack his strength by going at him in tight. That's a fool's errand against Bishop.
11:55 NYR Richards (12), (Callahan, Hagelin)
1:10 TB Hedman (10), (St Louis, Purcell)(PP)
1:19 TB Kucherov (7), (Gudas, Brown)
Bishop and Valtteri Filppula were the game's first and second stars, officially. Unofficially, I'd like to thank MSG's Al Trautwig, who was my first star. The man actually uttered aloud that Lundqvist wanted the shutout in the First Intermission. Never has the s-word jinx been so strikingly illustrated. Paul Kennedy, pay attention to what happened tonight. Trautwig put the jinx on and the Lightning scored a pair of goals in the first 1:19 of the ensuing period (9 seconds apart) and the Rangers lost the game. The s-word jinx is real. It's really real.
Kidding aside (sort of), it was only a moderately better effort from the Lightning tonight versus the past couple of games. They came out with the proper level of emotion and desperation but that fizzled when the Rangers got their first goal and they carried the balance of the play throughout the night. The Lightning were very lucky to get 2 points tonight. But, you know, manufactured points still count in the standings, and with Boston going down to Toronto tonight the Lightning again hold a tie for the Atlantic Division lead at 60 points with the B's holding a game in hand. The Lightning have 3 games to go in this segment and 4 points to go to get to the target minimum of 12 points, so you can see how critical the victory was tonight.
Again, thank you Al Trauwig. What a rookie mistake from a guy who should absolutely know better.
Mark Barberio was -1 with 1 hit in 12:01. I was going to say something nice about him after the First Period. Then he allowed a breakaway in the Second Period and looked positionally lost the rest of the contest. Maybe next time.
J.P. Cote had 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 12:33. The Rangers tried to test him with some soft dump ins to his corner to try to test his wheels and he did ok. Better than I thought he would, frankly.
J.T. Brown had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 9:59. Cooper showed some love for his rookie putting J.T. out for the critical PK late in the Third Period.
Andrej Sustr had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:18. Again, I think he's smacked into the rookie wall at high speed and his diminishing ice time may be a reflection of that. He needs 3 more NHL games this season to earn graduation from prospect status on the website.
Richard Panik had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 12:21. Time to give some love to the improvised line of Malone/Pyatt/Panik tonight. They set the tone early on the forecheck and they stayed effective throughout the game. Panik created a decent chance at a possible insurance goal in the Third Period flattening Brad Richards and creating an ill advised turnover by the former Lightning center. That was good to see. He needs 4 more NHL games this season to earn graduation from prospect status on the website.
Nikita Kucherov had the game winning goal and was +1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 9:18. He also had 5 shots that either missed the net or were blocked, so that's 7 shot attempts in a little over 9 minutes, which is a decent work rate on paper. More to the point: Kucherov scored for the first time on a regulation breakaway. I feel like we're supposed to sacrifice something or build a monument or perform some other great deed to commemorate the moment. I thought it might never come.