As the NHL All-Star Break begins, the Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned prospects Steve Downie and Ty Wishart to the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today. Admirals General Manager Mike Butters also announced today that prospect goaltender Riku Helenius has been reassigned from the Admirals to the ECHL's Mississippi Sea Wolves.
Jung, Wright, and Barberio continue to struggle ... Ward keeps plugging along.
Momentum is wearing a Lightning hat right now.
Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 34 shots for the victory.
04:45 TB Eminger (4), (Halpern)(PP)
05:19 TB Downie (2), (Murphy, Pettinger)
00:19 BUF Roy (17), (Pominville, Lydman)
01:23 TB Krajicek (1), (Meszaros, Prospal)
04:04 BUF Kotalik (10), (Rivet, Gaustad)(PP)
13:52 TB Halpern (3), (Recchi, Wishart)
16:55 BUF Roy (18), (Vanek, Pominville)(PP)
19:54 TBL Murphy (1), (Recchi)(PP)
All of a sudden, the Lightning have a power play thanks to Eminger, Recchi, and the newcomer Murphy really playing well from the point in the past couple of games. Here's the thing about Murphy: if you can keep him healthy he's going to hit the scoresheet. I remember a few years ago following Erikki Rajamaki when he played for Murphy's team, Ilves, in the SM-liiga. Murphy used to show up all over the box score like a rash when he played in Finland. I don't think the Dan Boyle comparison is necessarily apt, but Brian Rafalski might not be far off. You have to keep him in one piece though.
The Lightning pull into the break at 5 games under .500 about 9 points out of a playoff spot (that lay down in the second period against the Panthers really stings right now). They have six days off for the break before Montreal rolls into town next Tuesday. Those are six days where you have to hope the team gets Paul Ranger back and back for good. If they do, they've got a real shot to get back to .500 in February, and then the decisions at the deadline become a little bit more interesting. Yes, guys like Roberts and Kolzig are probably still goners, but I could foresee a scenario where Mark Recchi is kept, a la what the team did with Dave Andreychuk at the end of the 2001-2002 season. One thing I know for certain: the Lightning are starting to evolve into the kind of team you don't want to see come into your town as a seven or eight seed in the first round of the playoffs.
Ty Wishart got his first NHL assist off a blocked shot he was mysteriously not given credit for and was +1 in 9:43. I suppose, technically, you get the block or the helper, not both. He plays such a laid back game. Some would call it calm. Others might call it borderline comatose. He was solid tonight, though.
Steve Downie had 1 goal, 1 shot, and 3 hits and was +1 in 9:25. We're seeing the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning right now with Downie becoming a fixture on a line with Stamkos. Given the massive drop off in terms of quality of blueliners in the draft crop after Hedman, I have a suspicion the Lightning may be looking for a centerman to put between those two when the June draft comes around. The team might be playing its way out of position to grab the guy I think would really fit in with what Tocchet is doing, Brayden Schenn. If the Lightning pass Toronto in the standings, which feels like a likelihood, it might be tough for the Leafs to pass up little brother.
David Koci had 6 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 4:32. This was the first game where I really thought he was borderline stupid discipline-wise.
Karri Ramo allowed 6 goals on 34 shots in the loss, as he continues to blow a golden opportunity to earn a steady NHL paycheck.
HER Mink, (16) (Aucoin, Arsene), 16:37
HER McNeill, (2) (Laing, Wilson), 17:24
HER Wilson, (18) (Arsene, Gordon), 19:58
NOR Potulny, (7) (Rosehill, Jones), 3:02
NOR Jones, (9) (Potulny, Rosehill), 6:23
HER Aucoin, (16) (Giroux, Lepisto), 9:35 (PP)
HER Bourque, (9) (Joudrey, Arsene), 6:01
HER Wilson, (19) (Laing, McNeill), 9:26
Blair Jones now has 3 goals and 5 points in the last 4 games. I really think that Jones could fit well in Rick Tocchet's system. He's actually on pace to best last year's totals by roughly 10 points, which is pretty darn good considering he's gotten less ice time on a deeper Norfolk team this year.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Edmonton Oil Kings 1 @ Calgary Hitmen 7
G Torrie Jung, EDM: Loss, 13 saves on 17 shots before being pulled
Season totals: 30 GP, 13-12-1-4, 2.52 GAA, .914 sv%, 2 shutouts
Team Canadaâ€™s Brett Sonne (Blues third rounder 2007) had a hattrick for the top-ranked Hitmen.
According to the St. Pete Times, as part of the organization's plan to rotate defensemen from the Norfolk Admirals roster to the Tampa roster in its continuing process of evaluating talent in the system, the Lightning have recalled prospect defenseman Ty Wishart and reassigned Kevin Quick.
Despite Tocchet's comments that the switch was just part of the plan, the acquisition of Cory Murphy as a small-body puckmover and power play quarterback clearly made Quick's contributions to the roster less of a necessity and allows the organization to bring up a bigger and more physical blueliner in the form of the 6.04 Wishart, especially with the absence of Matt Smaby from the lineup. Quick was relegated to just 9:50 of ice time against Dallas with Murphy in the lineup as compared to 17:52 against Florida on Saturday night.
Total team effort.
Mike Smith allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the win.
01:33 TB Lecavalier (20), (St. Louis)(SH)
01:53 DAL Richards (12), (Parrish, Robidas)(PP)
04:19 DAL Eriksson (22), (Modano, Richards)
11:46 TB Stamkos (6), (Downie, Jokinen)
14:54 TB Lecavalier (21), (Murphy, Recchi)(PP)
19:11 TB Prospal (11), (St. Louis, Lecavalier)
For Vincent Lecavalier, that's now 9 straight seasons of 20 or more goals. Len Barrie, Oren Koules, Brian Lawton; come closer to the monitor. If you trade #4, Lightning Nation burns the Forum down. Capice?!
Steve Downie had 1 assist, 2 penalty minutes, and was +1 with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 8:19. Slick, slick play on the Stamkos goal. Might a Stamkos/Schenn/Downie line be a future staple in Tampa Bay?
David Koci was +1 with 1 hit in 4:33.
Kevin Quick was +1 with 1 blocked shot in 9:50.
Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune is reporting that the Lightning have claimed defenseman Cory Murphy off of re-entry waivers from the Florida Panthers. The 30 year old blueliner is in his second season in the NHL after a productive career in Europe spent primarily in Finland's SM-liiga. The smallish offensive defenseman has 2 goals and 18 points in 54 NHL games, and could potentially add some zip to the lackluster Lightning power play.
Results from all three CHL leagues.
Cunti scores his 10th ... DeCoste earns first point for the Soo ... Tokarski faces fellow Team Canada goaltender Chet Pickard and comes away with another First Star.