NHL Game Night 1/30: Flyers at Lightning

The NHL league office is a mockery.


Mike Smith allowed 6 goals on 30 shots for the loss before giving way to Riku Helenius who made his NHL debut and stopped the only 2 shots he faced.

First Period
07:03 PHI Richards (17), (Knuble, Gagne)
17:55 TB Prospal (13), (Ranger)(PP)

Second Period
08:05 PHI Jones (2), (Richards, Carle)(PP)
14:41 PHI Richards (18), (Lupul, Jones)

Third Period
07:59 PHI Carter (31), (Hartnell, Timonen)
10:47 PHI Hartnell (18), (Vaananen, Niittymaki)
13:08 PHI Carter (32), (unassisted)

What do you do when the league won't even allow you to compete? What do you do when you know that any borderline call and Toronto will go get on the phone and rule against you? I am amazed the NHL still hasn't gotten egg all over their face yet for the obvious bias and conflict of interest their decision a few seasons ago to move video replay to a "war room" in Toronto, and the subsequent effect it's had on the objectivity of the video officiating. It's been, what, four seasons now? And, the next borderline call that goes the Lightning's way will be the first. Two nights. Three video goal reviews. Every single damned one of them went against the Lightning.

In the first period, Mark Recchi may have kicked a puck in front of him which he whacked at and touched before it crossed the goal line. It wasn't obvious on video but the audio very clearly registered the sound of Recchi's stick hitting the puck. The goal was called good on the ice by the referee, but the decision was overturned by Toronto, despite a lack of conclusive evidence. In the third period Steven Stamkos batted a puck in on a rebound off Philly's goaltender Antero Nittymaki. The goal was immediately disallowed on the ice as batted in by a stick above the crossbar. This time? Toronto hides behind a lack of conclusive evidence and upholds what the referee's original call was. Same game. Same refs. Same video goal "war room." And the exact opposite calls. The other constant? Both were goals that would've been huge for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Waved off. And, every single person who has followed the Lightning in the past four seasons knew what the outcome of the review would be long before the ref hung up the phone. I mean, hell, 6'9" Zdeno Chara could whack a puck in with a high stick at his eye level three seasons ago and it counted in Toronto's eyes because it was against the Lightning, but 6'1" Steven Stamkos, standing legs apart lower to the ice for balance, bats a puck in at around shoulder height and it's "inconclusive." It's become a joke. They might as well name Vince McMahon the NHL's comissioner at this point.

Steve Downie had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 3 hits in 11:25. He would've had a helper had Stamkos' goal counted, but that was before Toronto got involved.

Matt Smaby had 2 shots and 2 hits in 13:45. It's striking how comfortable he has looked in these past two games. Have I mentioned I think this league is a joke?

David Koci got in a fight and had 1 blocked shot in 4:08. I wish he'd go to Toronto and slug every biased nitwit manning the "war room."

Now, don't get me wrong. There's no telling how the game might've turned out had either of the goals counted. Antero Nittymaki played a great game, stopping breakaways by Jeff Halpern and Marty St. Louis and a subsequent penalty shot by Marty St. Louis. There's no guarantee a 2-1 Lightning lead would've led to a Lightning victory or that the Lightning cutting a third period deficit to 3-2 would've led to a Lightning comeback. The point is, the league did not even allow the Lightning to compete in this game. They didn't allow the Lightning to have a chance. There was only one outcome possible to this game thanks to Toronto, and that was a victory by Philadelphia. And, that's a farce.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night 1/30: River Rats at Admirals

Smolenak is back, and in a big way.


Mike McKenna allowed 1 goal on 44 shots for the win.

First Period
NOR Smolenak, (13) (Segal, Gratton), 9:44

Second Period
NOR Bochenski, (16) (Lundin, Keller), 2:56
NOR Smolenak, (14) (Gratton), 3:07

Third Period
ALB Dwyer, (11) (Carson, Petruzalek), 7:42 (PP)
NOR Smolenak, (15) (Gratton, Mihalik), 11:13

Radek Smolenak, McKenna, and Chris Gratton were the game's three stars. Smolenak snaps an 11 game goal-less streak.

Norfolk moves to 3 games under .500.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 1/29

Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 1 @ Shawinigan Cataractes 4
D Michael Ward, CB: 0-0-0, E, 4 PIM, 0 SOG
Season totals: 49 GP, 5-20-21, +2, 79 PIM
With Cape Breton: 14 GP, 1-7-8, +1, 27 PIM

AHL Game Night 1/29: River Rats at Admirals

50 shots on goal for the Admirals tonight.


Mike McKenna allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the win.

First Period
ALB Paiement, (1) (Samson, Dodge), 6:03 (PP)
ALB Jensen, (6) (Angelidis, Flood), 9:51
NOR Keller, (7) (Quick, Konopka), 11:37
NOR Bochenski, (14) (Keller, Konopka), 13:06

Second Period
NOR Rosehill, (3) (Kearns, Lundin), 5:25
ALB Helminen, (11) , 18:49

Third Period
NOR Konopka, (11) (Jones, Lundin), 6:06 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (15) (Jones, Keller), 6:48
ALB Weston, (4) (Samson, Borer), 11:43

Brandon Bochenski and Justin Keller were the game's first and second stars. Kevin Quick heard we were talking about him on the message boards and registered his first AHL point of the season.

The Ads pull back to 4 games under .500 and 13 points out of the final playoff spot.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night 1/29: Lightning at Hurricanes

It really hurts when you outplay a team but you don't get the bounces.


Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 31 shots for the loss.

First Period
16:55 TB Recchi (11), (unassisted)

Second Period
05:34 CAR Larose (11), (Cullen)(SH)
18:36 CAR Cullen (11), (Pitkanen)

Third Period
05:10 TB Malone (15), (Recchi, Downie)
18:24 CAR Staal (21), (Samsonov, Gleason)

The really bad news is that Florida is in the process of smoking Montreal tonight, so the Lightning will wake up tomorrow 10 points out of 8th place.

Steve Downie had 1 assist, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 9:59.

Matt Smaby was +1 with 2 hits in 9:59, and played really well for a guy who was a late decision to play tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Helenius Recalled to Tampa; Ramo to Serve Suspension

As had been widely reported in the local Tampa media, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today that prospect goaltender Karri Ramo has been returned to the Norfolk Admirals to begin serving his six-game AHL suspension resulting from an altercation last Friday night's game in which Ramo left the bench during an on-ice brawl. With Olaf Kolzig on IR pending season-ending biceps tendon surgery, prospect netminder Riku Helenius has been subsequently recalled from Norfolk to backup Mike Smith.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 1/28

I like reports like this: Big games from Courtnall, Fadden, Jung, Tokarski, and Wright (pictured).

Victoria Grizzlies 6 @ Alberni Valley Bulldogs 1 (Tuesday)
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 2-0-2, 9 PIM (roughing after the whistle double minor, fighting major), *Second Star*
Season totals: 49 GP, 19-33-52, 88 PIM

With Victoria down 1-0 in the second, Courtnall scored twice in just over five minutes to give the Grizzlies a lead they would never relinquish. Courtnall, who has five goals in his last two games, sets a new career high for points in a season with 52. He tied last year’s goal mark of 19 – set in 60 games. He also tied his career high for penalty minutes in a season.

Bolt Prospects 2008-2009 Midterm Prospect Rankings

With about a month to go in the regular season over in Europe, and a little over a couple of months left to go in North America, the 2008-2009 season has turned out to be a good one for the prospects of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Asked to buoy the Lightning's sagging playoff hopes and to compensate for a spate of injuries on the top club's blueline, the team's youth has served admirably and done their part to help right the ship for Head Coach Rick Tocchet's club. Heading into the stretch run of the season, it looks like the youth in the Lightning organization may be priming for a big finish, capping a 2008-2009 season that in many ways has been a validation of the work that's been done by the club's scouts and developmental people, past and present.

N.A. Juniors Game Night: 1/27

Cunti's hot streak continues ... Tokarski comes up short again for CHL award.

AHL Suspends Ramo

The Pilot Online is reporting the American Hockey League has suspended Norfolk goalie Karri Ramo for six games. Ramo left the bench last Friday to join a game-ending brawl vs. Lake Erie.

Shortly after the final horn of Norfolk's 3-2 loss to Lake Erie, the Pilot states, Ramo came on to get a piece of Monsters goalie Tyler Weiman, who along with teammate Tom Fritsche, was battling Norfolk's Steve Downie. Fritsche got into it after leaving the Lake Erie bench and also drew a six-game suspension.

Fritsche was assessed a game misconduct for his actions, but Ramo was not penalized.

It is unclear when Ramo will begin serving the suspension as he was recalled to Tampa earlier this week. The Admirals recalled Riku Helenius from ECHL Mississippi to replace Ramo.

Update (Pete):
According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the Lightning are expected to send Ramo down to Norfolk for the next few weeks in order to serve his suspension and, in the meantime, Riku Helenius will be recalled to serve as Mike Smith's backup with the Lightning.

Of course, that leaves the question of who Norfolk will get to backup Mike McKenna?

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