KHL Playoff Game Day: 4-3-10

Eastern Conference Finals
(1)Yulaev 1 @ (3)Kazan 2 (OT)
Kazan Leads the Series 2-0
Dmitri Kazionov, Kazan, 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 52 GP, 18-9-27, +8, 18 PIM
Playoff totals: 11 GP, 3-1-4, +5, 8 PIM

Hannes Hyvonen scored 4:23 into overtime to lift Kazan to a 2-1 Game Two victory over top seed Yulaev and a 2-0 series lead in the KHL Eastern Conference Finals. Yulaev needed a goal with 15 seconds left in regulation by Valdimir Antipov just to force overtime, but their celebration was short lived. Kazan's other goal came from ex-Thrashers draft pick Ilya Nikulin. Lightning prospect Dmitri Kazionov played 20:36 in the match and took a first period minor penalty for high sticking.

Game Three between Yulaev and Kazan is Monday. Tomorrow is Game Three in the Western Conference between KHK MVD and Yaroslavl with that series deadlocked at 1-1.

Bolt Prospects Says Farewell to the Chiefs

On a rather sad note, today will mark the final game for the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs in Johnstown, PA. The franchise, owned by former NHL GM Neil Smith, has been plagued by financial problems for years and will be moving to Greenville, SC next season. Johnstown was the Tampa Bay Lightning's ECHL affiliate for three years between 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. Three of the Lightning's prospects who played in Johnstown have since seen time in the NHL: Radek Smolenak, Jay Rosehill, and Andre Deveaux.

I can honestly say that, outside of Norfolk Admirals fans, I don't think there's been an affiliate's fan base that was more supportive of their club than the fans of the Johnstown Chiefs. I'm sure this is a major blow for a town that has had some challenges over the past few years. Bolt Prospects salutes the fans of the Johnstown Chiefs and we hope that Johnstown, PA gets another franchise soon.

Lightning Reassign Four Players to Norfolk

Following last night's latest on-ice debacle, the Tampa Bay Lightning have returned right wing Mark Parrish, center Paul Szczechura, and prospect defensemen Vladimir Mihalik and Matt Lashoff to the Norfolk Admirals, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.

For the Admirals, these reassignments come at a critical time as Norfolk plays Binghamton in a make-or-break game for their AHL playoff hopes.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-2-10

QMJHL

No.5 Moncton Wildcats 6 @ No.4 Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 1
Quarterfinals, Game 1. Moncton leads Best of 7 Series 1-0
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 1-0-1, E, 0 PIM, 1 SOG
Playoff Totals: 6 GP, 2-4-6, +3, 2 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

There wasn’t much drama in this one as Moncton had a 5-1 lead after the opening period. Game 2 is Saturday at Rouyn-Noranda. QMJHL teams are re-seeded after the first round in a league-wide format. Moncton is the five-seed and the Huskies four despite the Huskies finishing the regular season 20 points behind Moncton. Rouyn-Noranda won the Telus Western Division; Moncton finished second to St. John in the Atlantic.

NHL Game Night: 4-2-10 Lightning at Rangers

It's over, Brian.

TB-5
NYR-0

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 7 shots in the first period for the loss before giving way to Antero Niitymaki, who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots the rest of the way.

It's over, and it's time to throw some support down to Norfolk in the hope that at least one team in this organization can make the postseason. Right now the best case scenario is if the Lightning could somehow get in a position to take Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin and add another franchise caliber piece to the puzzle. This season, however, is done.

Matt Lashoff had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:43. That's the kind of performance he needed to get back in the conversation for next season. With the Lightning off until Tuesday, he'll presumably head to Binghamton to help the Admirals tomorrow night.

Vladimir Mihalik was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 blocked shot in 12:01. It's striking that, even despite the rash of injuries, the coaching staff still is holding Vladdy down to a dozen minutes a game. That's not a good sign. He presumably will also be headed back to the Admirals for tomorrow night's game.

I kind of hope Paul Szczechura joins them, also. Not because Paul has played poorly, but because the Admirals need the help.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 4-2-10 Admirals at River Rats

Against all odds, Keller, Tokarski, and the Admirals have life.

NOR-2
ALB-1

Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 32 shots for the win. He's been good down the stretch, and he'll need to be amazing in the final 5 games of the season to get the Admirals over the hump.

First Period
ALB Blanchard, (14) (Micflikier, Samson), 12:37
NOR Keller, (16) (Jones), 16:03

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
NOR Keller, (17) (Case, Jackson), 13:29

Justin Keller and Tokarski were the game's first and second stars.

Tonight was supposed to be a funeral for the Norfolk Admirals. With Ty Wishart out hurt and Lashoff and Mihalik called up due to injuries, the Admirals blueline consisted of Scott Jackson and a bunch of no-names. On the road. Against a hot Albany club that's dominated the series this season. And, somehow, the Admirals have parlayed doom into hope, despite being outclassed for much of tonight's game. They made their own breaks. Blair Jones made a great individual play to steal a puck to set up Keller on the first goal, Tokarski made every key save he had to to keep it 1-1, and then in the final frame, when the Ads looked to just be holding on for a point, Justin Keller got a little daylight and used his laser shot to propel Norfolk to the win. That's why they play the games.

It's now essentially a four team race for three spots, and everything looks to have gone Norfolk's way tonight. Inside the division, Binghamton smoked third place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 6-2, meaning the Admirals are 3 points back of the Penguins. In the crossover, Lowell (which is struggling), fell 5-2 to Hartford and Bridgeport is down 4-1 to Manchester very late in the third period. If that score holds, Norfolk will be 2 points back of both the Devils and Monarchs, and in all three cases the Admirals will hold one game in hand.

Can they defy the odds again tomorrow night in Binghamton? If they do, they can pull within 1 point of the Penguins for 3rd place in the East Division. Moreover, they could pull back into a playoff spot if Lowell falls in regulation to Worcester and/or Bridgeport falls in regulation to Portland. Theoretically, with the Lightning off until Tuesday, the Admirals should get Matt Lashoff and Vladimir Mihalik back for tomorrow night, and one would hope a forward or two might also be thrown into the mix, because tomorrow is make-or-break for Norfolk, and Binghamton has been playing well.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

European Game Day: 4-2-10

KHL (Russia) Playoff Game Day
Eastern Conference Finals
(1)Yulaev 3 @ (3)Kazan 4
Kazan Leads the Series 1-0
Dmitri Kazionov, Kazan, 2-0-2, +1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 52 GP, 18-9-27, +8, 18 PIM
Playoff totals: 10 GP, 3-1-4, +5, 6 PIM

Lightning prospect Dmitri Kazionov picked a heck of a time to have a breakout game. Kazionov had a pair of goals today, each assisted by former NHLer Niko Kapanen, to help Kazan knock off top seed Yulaev in Game One of their KHL Eastern Conference Finals series. The 2002 4th round pick played 18:23 in the match.

In the Western Conference Finals series, KHK MVD and Yaroslavl are tied 1-1 after trading overtime wins over the past couple of days. Game Two between Kazan and Yulaev is slated for tomorrow.

Kval till Elitserien (Sweden)
Vaxjo 7 @ Sodertalje 6 (OT)
Riku Helenius, Sodetalje, Loss, 28/35, 6.83 GAA, .800 sv%
Season totals: 9 GP, 4-2-2, 0 SO, 2.42 GAA, .923 sv%
Kval till Elitserien totals: 7 GP, 5-1-0, 1 SO, 2.82 GAA, .900 sv%

All good things come to an end, and Riku Helenius' personal 7 game winning streak that extended back into the Elitserien regular season was spoiled spectacularly today in a 7-6 overtime loss to Allsvenskan side Vaxjo. Sodertalje still sits in first on the promotion/relegation series table.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4-1-10

OHL

East-5 Brampton Battalion 3 @ East-1 Barrie Colts 5
Conference Semifinals, Game 1. Barrie leads Best of 7 Series 1-0
LW/C Alex Hutchings, BAR: Did not play.
Playoff Totals: 4 GP, 1-5-6, +6, 8 PIM
Season Totals: 68 GP, 47-34-81, +44, 58 PIM

Although Hutchings played all four games of the Sudbury series, he reportedly missed Game 1 vs. Brampton with an apparent “lower body injury.” Alex Burmistrov, who is expected to go near the top of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, had a goal and an assist to earn First Star honors in the game for the Colts. Game 2 is Sunday.

NHL Game Night: 3-31-10 Lightning at Penguins

You explain it. I sure can't.

TB-2
PIT-0

Mike Smith had a 27 save shutout for the victory. He was strong in tight and the Lightning did a very good job at limited the east-west chances and odd-man rushes that Smitty struggles with.

First Period
TB 17:00, Stamkos 46 (St. Louis, Foster)(PP)

Second Period
TB 0:29, Downie 22 (St. Louis, Stamkos)

Third Period
NO SCORING

I don't get it. I don't get how you lose to Columbus one night, and then handle the defending champs easily the next. This wasn't like the Bruins game where the Lightning were outshot 3:1. The Lightning were very much under control defensively in tonight's game and they dutifully capitalized on the few chances they had. Was it trying to send a message on national TV? Trying to show out for Steven Stamkos' Richard Trophy race? The Pens announcers suggested they were playing for Tocchet's job. I'm not sure that's true one night after you choke against the Blue Jackets. Whatever it was, I enjoyed it.

Kudos to Mike Lundin (29:48) and Mattias Ohlund (27:07) for picking up the ice time with only 4 true NHL d-men in uniform and one of the minor leaguers getting thrown out in his first shift. Whoever ends up being GM, they need to re-sign Lundin expeditiously before July 1st. Even if he doesn't improve an iota over what he is right now, which seems unlikely, he's a solid, mobile, 20 minute a night ice time eater.

Steve Downie is now just 4 points shy of 50 of the season. Fun with numbers: since the turn of the year when he started taking on more of a scoring line role, Downie has 14 goals, 29 points, and 112 penalty minutes in 36 games. That pro-rates to 32 goals, 66 points, and 255 PIMs over an 82 game season. So he's got a chance to be a 30 goal and 70 point player next season, and possibly more. If Downie ratcheted up the discipline a bit more and trimmed his PIMs down to, say, a 150 PIM pace, how many more points would he have with an extra 50-60 minutes worth of total ice time? For Downie, that'd be like tacking another 3-4 games onto his season in which to hit the scoresheet.

Steven Stamkos is 1 goal back in the Richard Trophy race. I'd have killed for him to tie Crosby with an EN goal at the end.

Zenon Konopka still leads the PIM King chase. There's another guy who needs to be re-signed before July 1st.

Matt Lashoff was like Tom Berringer in that awful Sniper movie: one shift, one kill. 15 penalty minutes in 49 seconds after boarding ex-Lightning Rusty Fedotenko. The knock on Lashoff has been twofold: that he's soft and he's mildly stupid in his own end positionally. I'm thinking he was a little overeager to answer the first critique.

Vladimir Mihalik had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 12:18. He looked fairly poised and confident at times tonight, which is likely a byproduct of playing with countryman Andrej Meszaros. The good news with Vladdy is that his skating hasn't been as much of an issue as I thought it might be. The bad news is that NHL competition has highlighted the fact that even though Vladdy is big, he's not strong. He needs to build his upper body strength to compete better along the wall.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lashoff Recalled by Lightning

(Norfolk Admirals release) The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have recalled defenseman Matt Lashoff from the Admirals on an emergency basis, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today.

Lashoff, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman from East Greenbush, New York, has appeared in 66 games with Norfolk this season, scoring seven goals and 23 points with 94 penalty minutes. He also has four power play goals and one game-winning goal. He ranks second among club defensemen in scoring and ranks second overall in penalty minutes.

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