N.A. Juniors Playoffs Game Night: 3/20

Playoff results ... Big night for Barberio ... Tokarski doing it again ... Luca, too.

AHL Game Night 3/20: Senators at Admirals

60 minutes. Nice.

BNG-2
NOR-4

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.

First Period
NOR Konopka, (15) (Smolenak, Segal), 3:24
NOR Smolenak, (21) (Keller, Boyle), 12:45 (PP)
BNG Mauldin, (20) (Regin, Karlsson), 15:41 (PP)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
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.

Zenon Konopka, Kinrade, and Radek Smolenak were the game's three stars. Smolenak potted his 21st of the season in the win. Run up those numbers, young man.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

N.A. Juniors Game Night 3/19: Calgary Takes Game 1 vs. Jung

WHL – 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 – the CHL’s No.1 ranked team. Joel Broda (Capitals) had two goals and an assist for Calgary.

CHL Notes
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.

NHL Game Night 3/19: Capitals at Lightning

For some inexplicable reason, the Lightning decided to do a drive by for the third period.

WSH-5
TB-2

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.

First Period
07:43 WSH Ovechkin (50), (Backstrom)
17:39 TB Stamkos (16), (Lecavalier, Lashoff)(PP)
19:50 WSH Green (26), (Morrisonn, Kozlov)

Second Period
15:54 TB St. Louis (27), (Malone, Lashoff)

Third Period
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.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Bolts Recall Melichar from Norfolk

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.

Melichar undoubted is being recalled after Cory Murphy suffered a broken foot in Monday's game against Toronto when he took a Vincent Lecavalier slapshot to the skate in the 2nd period.

AHL Game Night 3/18: Senators at Admirals

The Admrials continue to experience third period collapses.

BNG-5
NOR-3

Riku Helenius allowed 5 goals on 39 shots for the loss.

First Period
NOR Simek, (7) (Konopka, Lundin), 10:49 (PP)

Second Period
BNG Karlsson, (7) (Mauldin, Regin), 10:51
BNG Weller, (4) , 15:12
NOR Smolenak, (20) , 17:05

Third Period
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

Radek Smolenak scored his 20th goal and there was a third Chris Lawrence sighting. Accentuate the positive, I suppose.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

WHL Western Conference All-Stars, Finalists Announced

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.

2009 WHL Western Conference Awards

N.A. Juniors Game Night 3/17: Jung, Courtnall Advance

A Game 7 blowout in Victoria ... a tie-breaker nail-biter in Prince Albert ... Tokarski finishes as the WHL leader in 4 categories.

KHL Courting Harju?

The Swedish paper Norrbottens Kuriren is reporting that several teams in the Russian KHL are courting Lightning prospect Johan Harju and his teammate, Edmonton prospect Linus Omark. The Lightning reportedly had the inside track on signing Harju, who at 22 years of age was the second leading goal scorer in the Swedish Elitserien for Lulea, earlier in the season. However, the entrance of the Russian league into the equation complicates matters. NHL rookie contracts are capped at around $900,000, while wealthy Russian owners flush with cash are willing to spend lavishly on young stars like Harju, putting the Lightning at a disadvantage in a potential bidding war. The question is: will Harju choose the better lifestyle and top flight competition of the NHL, or will he choose to chase the big bucks behind the former iron curtain?

Harju is quoted in the report as saying, "The NHL is the dream and that is what I am aiming for." However, he didn't close the door completely, stating, "The way of life is a bit special in Russia, but it would also be an adventure in its own way."

More on this story as it develops...

NHL Game Night 3/17: Maple Leafs at Lightning

Lightning crumble in final 20:24.

TOR-4
TB-3 (SO)

Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 39 shots before allowing 2 of 6 shooters to convert for the shootout loss. He looked really good for the first 39:36 of the game. He was moving well. Following the puck. Then he overplayed on Jason Blake to allow the first goal and his fundamentals started to come unglued. His rebound control went straight to hell. His five-hole got big enough to drive a truck through. I give him credit for battling his way to get the point and he was game in the shootout, but that's a game Karri's got to help his team close out. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. Fundamentals. On the good side, he's claimed 6 of the last 8 available points.

First Period
13:39 TB Lecavalier (29), (Murphy, St. Louis)(PP)

Second Period
02:26 TB Stamkos (15), (St. Louis, Ramo)(PP)
02:36 TB Pettinger (5), (Karsums, Krajicek)
19:36 TOR Mitchell (9), (Blake, Stralman)

Third Period
03:24 TOR Blake (24), (Stempniak)
14:29 TOR Hamilton (2), (Devereaux, Stajan)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
TOR- Hamilton, Mitchell
TB- Lecavalier

Hard luck by the Lightning in the shootout as Stamkos and St. Louis both rang posts. Hint to Rick Tocchet: Lashoff's awesome at shootouts.

We'll have to see if the Lightning make a recall with Cory Murphy going down to injury. Vladimir Mihalik?

Noah Welch had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:29. If he plays every game down the stretch, he'll graduate and be a Bolt Prospects alumni. This saddens me. See: Stewart, Karl.

Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 20:57. He was more subdued than usual tonight.

David Koci had a 10 minute misconduct, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 4:47.

Paul Szczechura was +1 with 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 13:31. He was also 70% on draws. He looked good tonight. His whole line did with Pettinger and Karsums.

Martins Karsums had an assist and was +1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 10:19. Still waiting for him to put it all together, but he was better tonight.

Richard Petiot had 2 hits in 18:59 against his former organization.

Matt Lashoff was -1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 22:58. You can see why he was a guy the Lightning were willing to give considerably to get. His skating is smooth as silk, and he's got some skill. Between Lashoff, Ranger, and Meszaros the Lightning will have a ridiculously mobile defense next season. The downside with Lashoff? Tocchet needs to get him to take the body more in the defensive zone. If he can get that out of Lashoff, he's a top-four in this league. Even if he doesn't, he's a real nice number five d-man in the making; a great piece to add to the puzzle.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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