The Tampa Bay Lightning have reassigned Brian Eklund and Nick Tarnasky to Springfield of the AHL. Both players will be available for the Falcons' game Thursday at home against Manchester. As a consequence, expect Jonathan Boutin and perhaps one skater to be reassigned to Johnstown of the ECHL within the next 24-48 hours. The Chiefs' next game is Friday night against Trenton at home.
You've got a rookie goaltender in net... you've GOT to give him more than 2 goals of support.
On the one hand it's gratifying to see Ranger and Artyukhin be two of the best players for the Lightning tonight. On the other, it's frightening that they've been two of the best players for the Lightning both in Montreal and in Toronto. Shot totals were plenty lopsided at 34-19 in favor of the Lightning but scoring chances were pretty much even due to some thoughtless, sloppy play.
Paul Ranger ended with an assist, a team leading +2, and 2 shots on goal in 15:39 of ice time. His final shift in the third period epitomized just how well he is playing at both ends of the rink, taking the body to win the puck on a Montreal dump in, keeping a puck in at the Montreal blueline for a shot on goal, then breaking up a 2-on-1 when Boyle was caught pinching to finish the shift off. Evgeny Artyukhin also had an assist and an impressive 5 hits in 17:35 of ice time. The entire rest of the team only had 6 hits combined.
On the other side of the coin Nick Tarnasky only played 2 shifts tonight. 2. If that's all he's going to be used I believe the Lightning have an obligation to send him back to Springfield where he can actually play and develop. Brian Eklund stopped 16 of 19 shots faced in the loss. He was also beaten a handful of times and enjoyed the aid of the goalposts to save him. It was a rough spot to put Brian in for his premiere game and all told, he made enough saves to give the Lightning a chance at points. Again, with a rookie netminder in, just two goals is simply unacceptable in terms of support.
Game sheet from NHL.com.
The Prince George Cougars have confirmed that defenseman Andy Rogers is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Rogers, who nearly made the Lightning out of camp in September and was subsequently signed to a pro contract, has missed the Cougars' last six games. He has three assists in seven games played this year. Rogers missed several games last year for Calgary with a minor ankle injury. This injury could affect his participation in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. Rogers was named to Team WHL for the game against Russia in Regina on December 1. He was not named to the WHL squad that will play the Russians in Saskatoon November 30.
Lightning CHL prospects had a mediocre weekend this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as only one prospect made a lot of noise. Stan Lascek had a first star, five-point (1+4) night for Chicoutimi against P.E.I. on Saturday. Lascekâ€™s point streak now stands at 11 games.
As mentioned, Stanislav Lascek had a goal and four assists to pace Chicoutimi to a 5-2 win over P.E.I. Saturday. He was also plus-two for the game and had a two minute minor penalty. On Friday night, Lascek and the Sagueneens took on Lightning prospect Mark Tobin and the struggling Rimouski Oceanic. Lascek had two assists as Chicoutimi won 5-0. He also had six shots on goal. He is second in the QMJHL in scoring, two points behind teammate Maxime Boisclair. Six of Lascekâ€™s 16 goals have come on the powerplay. Three others were scored shorthanded. Chicoutimi is just two points behind Division-leading Rouyn-Noranda with two games in hand.
TSN.ca is reporting that Brian Eklund will make his first NHL start tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. The former 2000 7th round pick was called up last week when Sean Burke strained his groin in a practice session and rumors abound that starter John Grahame may also be ailing, prompting this decision.
According to the Springfield Republican, Falcons GM/Owner Bruce Landon is preparing to fly to Tampa in early December to hammer out a long term extention for the single affiliation agreement the team has with the Tampa Bay Lightning through the year 2010. The deal would coincide with the length of time left on the Falcons' lease with the newly rennovated Mass Mutual Center. The two organization's current affiliation agreement expires this summer.
In my last commentary I took on Hockey's Future's ludicrous organizational rankings. Deservedly, Hockey's Future showed the apropriate amount of shame for the pointed criticism they received for having the audacity to claim legitimacy in their rankings even though they had not updated their Lightning rankings in half a year, had not had an article up on their site about the Lightning in over two months and did not even have a full time writer dedicated to the Lightning. True, they STILL don't have a full time writer covering the team but they at least made an attempt to provide content on their site putting up a cookie cutter story regurgitating the Lightning CHL prospects' statistics. I say cookie cutter because this is the exact same assignment that was given to all 30 teams and it involves nearly zero in the way of cogent, thoughful analysis to cut and paste a players' statistics. Still, given two months of complete journalistic neglect (if we use the loosest definition of journalism to allow for what Hockey's Future has become over the past couple of years) it was at least something.
And then today, much to the shock and surprise of the Lightning fan base, Hockey's Future finally released their top-20 rankings for the Tampa Bay Lightning, albeit months later than most other teams. Unfortunately, this badly cobbled attempt at fulfilling the most bare minimum of their obligations as a hockey site claiming to cover the prospects of every team fell so far short that even the poor fellow who was told to post the article under his name went onto HFboards to apologize to Lightning fans before his apology was pulled. I do not know whether he himself made the decision or if Hockey's Future management, ever more sensitive to the criticism that they're really and truly hacks with no qualifications or business critiquing the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospects, pulled the post. I do, however, know these rankings are awful.
Riddle me this Hockey's Future, how the hell can you have a defenseman who was just demoted to the ECHL ranked as the best prospect in the Lightning organization while Paul Ranger, who is in the NHL averaging 15 minutes of ice time a night with a very respectable +1 rating sits at 9th? Better yet, maybe you can explain to your readers why Nick Tarnasky, who also is in the NHL today is only the 19th best prospect in the organization? It boggles the mind.
It was a tough spot to be in as a team. The Falcons were playing their third game in three nights and their fourth without starting netminder Brian Eklund who was still up with the Lightning. Something had to give... I just had hoped it wouldn't be against a division opponent the Falcons were tied with in 1st in the division. But the dam finally broke in the third period.
Rookie Gerald Coleman took the loss stopping 24 of 28 shots. The positives: Jason Jaspers continued the season of his lifetime with a goal and an assist and Zbynek Hrdel notched his first AHL point. Still, the hope has to be that by next weekend the callup situation will be resolved and possibly Eklund and one or two of the forwards will be back with the team.
Game sheet from TheAHL.com.
I'm still a little sore about this losing streak we're on. Not even Jonathan Boutin's nearly ridiculous 50 save performance or Vasily Koshechkin's 6 shuouts in his last 9 games is fully cheering me up. Last time I felt low, Radek Smolenak's Gordie Howe hat trick picked me up.
Tonight I'm going to the QMJHL for winger Stanislav Lascek who tonight had 1G 4A and earned the game's first star in a 5-2 victory over the Brad Richards owned PEI Rocket (sorry Brad). Stan now has 16 goals and 43 points in 20 games. Get ready Springfield. He's a Falcon next season.