The Lightning pull out a critical win in the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 36 shots before allowing 1 of 2 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. Since the Lightning's drubbing against Carolina, Ramo has rebounded (perhaps a bad choice of words in Karri's case) to go 2-0-3. He's got a nice .919 save percentage over that span, too, by my count. Rebound control remains an issue, but he's making the first saves, which is critical. He could save the Lightning a small fortune by proving he can be Smitty's backup with continued good performances down the stretch.
06:12 ATL Kozlov (22), (Enstrom, Armstrong)
17:49 ATL White (20), (Kozlov, Kovalchuk)(PP)
03:50 TB Stamkos (17), (Krajicek, St. Louis)
05:12 TB Stamkos (18), (Lashoff, Lecavalier)(PP)
12:52 ATL Kovalchuk (37), (White, Enstrom)(PP)
15:36 TB Prospal (18), (Krajicek)
The Lightning managed to crawl back into this game after laying down in the First Period the same way they laid down in the Third Period against the Caps. They're fortunate the Thrashers stink in that regard and let them get back to even.
Steven Stamkos continues his steady march to 20 goals as he racked up his 17th and 18th tonight. Keep shooting, young man. It's hard to believe he only had 6 goals at the end of the month of January. In his last 16 games, Stamkos has 11 goals and 16 points. That pro-rates to a 56 goal, 82 point campaign over 82 games. That's not to say he'll stay this hot for a full year next season. But, to me, with an entire offseason to train and build his body and the work ethic he's already displayed, I would not be shocked at all to see him pot 40 goals and 80-90 points next year. I think the league was lulled into a false sense of security about Stamkos when he didn't come out of the hockey womb a preformed point-a-game player and when Barry Melrose decided to chuck #91 under the bus after he was fired. Hopefully Stamkos' amazing late season productivity continues to fly under the radar and sets him up to storm the league early next season. I suspect I'll almost feel pity for teams who have to choose between dying by Stammer or Vincent Lecavalier's hand next year with the two playing on opposite scoring lines. Almost.
Have the Lightning actually won a game in the third jerseys, by the way? If someone knows the team's record with them on, by all means post it. I suspect it's almost terrible enough to warrant burning the new threads.
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 24:37. This was a good rebound game after going -4 against Washington.
David Koci had 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 6:45.
Paul Szczechura was -1 with 1 shot in 12:41.
Martins Karsums had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:19. He was better tonight.
Richard Petiot was -1 with 6 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:11. He was awful in the first period as Atlanta took advantage of his slow feet. To his credit, he got it back together in the final 40 minutes. I like him as a #8 or #9 d-man who can come up from Norfolk if there's an injury.
Matt Lashoff had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes and was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 28:18, which led the team in ice time. 3 games in a Lightning jersey: 3 power play assists. You can't complain about that kind of production. He deals a good pass for a one-timer, which can get a defenseman paid on a power play that features shooters like Stamkos, Lecavalier, and Martin St. Louis. His skating allows him to potentially eat big minutes like he did tonight, too. Darren Eliot claimed tonight that his skating had somehow been "exposed." It's a shame that someone swapped out his Thrashers flavored Kool-Aid for bad moonshine. Here's to hoping his eyesight returns to him soon.
Norfolk weathers the third period storm to continue to improve their home record.
Crag Kowalski allowed 1 goal on 38 shots for the win.
NOR Keller, (16) , 11:01 (SH)
WBS Letestu, (21) (Caputi), 17:19
NOR Bochenski, (27) (Jones, Lundin), 3:52 (PP)
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Playoff results ... Big night for Barberio ... Tokarski doing it again ... Luca, too.
60 minutes. Nice.
Riku Helenius allowed 2 goals on 31 shots for the win. The victory snaps a 5 game personal losing streak for Riku and raises his season save percentage back to .918.
NOR Konopka, (15) (Smolenak, Segal), 3:24
NOR Smolenak, (21) (Keller, Boyle), 12:45 (PP)
BNG Mauldin, (20) (Regin, Karlsson), 15:41 (PP)
NOR Kinrade, (1) (Bochenski), 8:12
BNG Smith, (21) (Zubov, Kudelka), 11:52
NOR Konopka, (16) (Bochenski, Segal), 17:48 (PP)
The Admirals signed their first ATO, defenseman Geoff Kinrade out of Michagan Tech, and he paid instant dividends with the game winning goal.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
WHL â€“ Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Edmonton Oil Kings 0 @ Calgary Hitmen 5
Calgary leads Best of 7 series 1-0
G Torrie Jung, EDM: Loss, 32 saves on 37 shots
Playoff totals: 1 GP, 0-1-0, 5.00 GAA, .865 sv%
Season totals: 48 GP, 20-20-3-5, 2.58 GAA, .911 sv%, 3 shutouts
No.1 Calgary easily took Game 1 of this opening round match-up, scoring once in the first period, then blowing the game open with three in the second against No.8 Edmonton. Martin Jones (Kings FA signee) had the shutout for the Hitmen â€“ the CHLâ€™s No.1 ranked team. Joel Broda (Capitals) had two goals and an assist for Calgary.
Mark Barberio was not among the three finalists named for the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year award. While not a huge surprise, a New Brunswick newspaper recently conducted a survey among a panel of experts and Barberio finished third. Likely 2009 first rounder Dmitry Kulikov, a defenseman for Drummondville, was named a finalist.
For some inexplicable reason, the Lightning decided to do a drive by for the third period.
Mike McKenna allowed 5 goals on 30 shots for the loss. He probably would've like to have had Washington's second goal back, and Washington's last goal came off a bad rebound. But the Lightning completely laid down in front of him in the third period, so it's not like McKenna is the one who takes the blame.
07:43 WSH Ovechkin (50), (Backstrom)
17:39 TB Stamkos (16), (Lecavalier, Lashoff)(PP)
19:50 WSH Green (26), (Morrisonn, Kozlov)
15:54 TB St. Louis (27), (Malone, Lashoff)
01:48 WSH Green (27), (Kozlov, Ovechkin)
07:38 WSH Nylander (8), (Kozlov, Ovechkin)(PP)
12:26 WSH Bradley (5), (Morrisonn, Steckel)
The Lightning's streak of getting points in games ends at four. It might be for the best considering the team was about to play itself out of the #2 draft slot. Still, I just don't get it. They played 40 minutes of hockey showing they could go toe-to-toe with one of the most talented teams in the league, and it's like they got on the bus early at the second intermission.
Noah Welch was -2 with 1 shot in 16:33. He's just not good.
Matt Smaby took the rough -4 treatment with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 20:25. Shake it off, #32.
Paul Szczechura was -2 with 3 shots in 13:32. He was also 44% on draws.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot and 3 hits in 13:24. The chemistry he had on a line with Szczechura and Pettinger was fleeting, apparently. He's just not very good right now either.
Richard Petiot was +1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 21:58. He was one of only two players with a plus rating. He made some mistakes, but they didn't end up in his net.
Matt Lashoff had 2 assists and was +2 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 22:30. If you're looking for the silver lining from this game, it's Lashoff. When he came over from Boston, from what I had seen in his younger days playing in Providence, I figured he'd be a good two-way #5 d-man who could get you 25 points a season. Seeing him in extended minutes through two games, he looks like he very much might be the equal of Paul Ranger and Andrej Meszaros in terms of his skill and athleticism. Those are two players who should be 40 point a year d-men when healthy. The key is going to be whether these coaches can get Lashoff to pay attention to his own zone and to take the body consistently. They've already pulled that feat off with Meszaros, so there's reason for optimism on that front. You can see the talent, though. Damian Crisdotero did some Chicken Littling about Cory Murphy breaking his foot and Lashoff having to assume his minutes. Matt sure did answer the bell tonight.
Depite the absence of official word from the either the Tampa or Norfolk organizations, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting that defenseman Josef Melichar was in the Tampa locker room this morning. He, however, did not participate in the morning skate and likely has to clear waivers at 12:00 pm EDST before an official press release will be issued.
The Admrials continue to experience third period collapses.
Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 39 shots for the loss.
NOR Simek, (7) (Konopka, Lundin), 10:49 (PP)
BNG Karlsson, (7) (Mauldin, Regin), 10:51
BNG Weller, (4) , 15:12
NOR Smolenak, (20) , 17:05
BNG Smith, (5) , 6:26 (PP)
BNG Mauldin, (19) (Regin, Smith), 7:05 (PP)
BNG Regin, (16) (Petruic), 9:17
NOR Lawrence, (5) (Keller, Zingoni), 14:46
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The WHL announced their annual awards finalists today, and it wasn't great news for Lightning prospect Dustin Tokarski.
Despite leading the league in 4 of the 5 goaltending categories (goals against average, save percentage, shutouts, shootout percentage - 5th in wins), Tokarski lost out to fellow Team Canada goaltender Chet Pickard of the Tri-City Americans for the Western Conference's First All-Star team goaltender, and the conference nominee for Goaltender of the Year.
Tokarski was voted to the Conference's Second All-Star team. Possible 2009 Lightning draft target Evander Kane was named to the First team.
While stats obviously don't mean everything, and Pickard's Americans finished just ahead of Spokane in the U.S. Division, Pickard finished with one more win than Tokarski (35), a 5th place GAA of 2.28 (Tokarski 1.97), a 2nd place save percentage of .921 (Tokarski .937), and 6 shutouts (second to Tokarski and Jones' 7). Pickard also had six fewer losses than Tokarski.
The Player of the Year finalists will be announced April 15.
A Game 7 blowout in Victoria ... a tie-breaker nail-biter in Prince Albert ... Tokarski finishes as the WHL leader in 4 categories.