CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/21

Prince George 2 @ Vancouver 6
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 2-0

If the Prince George Cougars are going to win this series, they're going to have to come from 2-0 down for the second series in a row - not a small task. On Saturday, Wacey Rabbit had a first period hat trick and added a fourth goal in the 3rd to lead the Giants to a 6-2 win. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and had an even rating for Prince George. Game 3 is in Prince George on Tuesday night.

Russia Loses Euro Tour Finals

Thursday marked the beginning of the European Hockey Tour Finals between Russia and Sweden. Team Russia featured goaltender Vasily Koshechkin, left wing Anton But and right wing Evgeny Artyukhin.

In Game One, on Thursday, Russia lost to Sweden 3-2 with Koshechkin allowing 3 goals on 29 shots faced. Anton But was scoreless with 2 penalty minutes in the match. He played on the 4th line for Russia while fellow Lightning property Evgeny Artyukhin played on the team's second line.

In Game Two, today, Russia once again fell by the slimmest of margins. The Swedes defeated Russia 4-2 with a late empty net goal padding their margin. Koshechkin made 20 saves on 23 shots faced. But was moved to the third line in the match while Artyukhin was moved to the team's 4th line. The European Hockey Tour Finals was, in some ways, a warm up for the upcoming World Championships.

CHL Playoffs Game Night: 4/20

Prince George 2 @ Vancouver 3
Vancouver leads best-of-7 series 1-0

Vancouver held off a late Prince George charge to beat the Cougars 3-2 and take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 Western Conference Finals series. The Giants outshot Prince George 37-21, but the Cougars were able to cut the Giants lead to 3-2 with 4 minutes left in the game. Vladimir Mihalik was scoreless and minus-1 for Prince George. Game 2 is tonight in Vancouver.

NHL Playoff Game Night 4/20: Lightning at Devils

And now the Lightning will be swimming against the current in Game Six.

TB-0
NJ-3

Johan Holmqvist allowed 2 goals on 13 shots. Yes, just 13 shots. The Lightning trounced Jersey in shots by a 31-14 margin. However, the bounces were not going the Lightning's way tonight and Brodeur's confidence seems to be growing. It's hard to get angry about how the team played. They outplayed the Devils by all objective measures. Shots. Scoring chances. Zone time. They all favored the Lightning greatly. Still, the team finds itself behind the eight ball trailing 3 games to 2 going into Sunday.

The good news is, the Lightning have survived this test before. Recall, the team rallied from a 3-2 series defecit to defeat Calgary for the cup in '04. The Lightning have some experience to draw on. But they need to get back to finishing their chances.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Prince George - Vancouver Preview

Recently signed Lightning prospect Vladimir Mihalik and the Prince George Cougars will meet their B.C. Division rival, the Vancouver Giants, in the 2007 WHL KAL Tire Western Conference Championship Series. Though it's considered a rivalry, it was rather one-sided this season as Vancouver was 7-1 against Prince George, with one of those wins coming in a shootout. Mihalik was scoreless and minus-6 with 12 PIM in the 8 games vs. Vancouver this year.

Anzalone Likely to Stay in Johnstown

Despite word yesterday that Johnstown Chiefs coach Frank Anzalone may be out of a job this summer, a report in today's Johnstown Tribune-Democrat highlights a message from Tampa Bay General Manager Jay Feaster saying "Frank Anzalone is under contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning through the 2007-08 season, and we have no plans of making a coaching change in Johnstown.”

For the full article, see the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.

Paper "Champions" Dispatched

Way to represent the division Atlanta!

Honest question: how does Don Waddell keep his job every year? It took him eight seasons to finally get the Thrashers into the playoffs and they embarass themselves. Thoroughly. Look, Espo managed to get the Lightning into the playoffs by year four on a pittiful shoestring budget. Waddell gets resources out the ying yang and somehow manages to make hamburger on a steak budget.

Then again, maybe it's just payback for a certain Thrashers fan making sure she rigs the HF rankings every season?

So the Thrashers will definitely lose Tkachuk to free agency. Dupuis looks like a decent bet to follow. Zhitnik is still under contract for another year, but he's also old as dirt. If he's all that's left of trading three first round picks, seriously, how can Waddell keep his job? Because he finally got the Thrashers into the playoffs after nearly eight years of futility? Can Atlanta Spirit LLC really be that gullible? Probably.

Oh, and Marian Hossa continues to cement his reputation as a Yashin-esque playoff choker, followed closely by Ilya Kovalchuk whose raw natural abilities are only matched by his immense, gargantuan selfishness. It's a shame the Lightning didn't get that one more goal in the shootout in the season finale. Atlanta's mental softness has been apparent for years now and I'm not even in the slightest surprised at how easily they were picked apart.

NHL Playoff Game Night 4/18: Devils at Lightning

Buckle up, this could be a long series now.

NJ-4
TB-3 (OT)

Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 37 shots in the loss. He was great tonight though. No complaints. Gomez's OT winner was just a great shot. Martin St. Louis led the way with 1 goal and 1 assist. Eric Perrin and Vincent Lecavalier had the Lightning's goals. Filip Kuba, Brad Richards and Vaclav Prospal added assists.

The good news? New Jersey still can't stop the Lightning's big guns. They have no answer for Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis. None.

The bad news? On balance this was probably the first game of the series where the Jersey skaters really outplayed the Lightning's skaters. Far too many turnovers by the Lightning to count. They must tighten up going into a critical Game Five.

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Anzalone Out as Chiefs Coach?

In today's Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, reporter Mike Mastovich states the future of Johnstown Chiefs coach Frank Anzalone, one of only four ECHL coaches with 300 wins (332), is in limbo.

“I’ve been in Tampa. The hockey operations situation is in the hands of (Lightning GM) Jay Feaster,” Anzalone told the newspaper. Anzalone attended the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoff game against visiting New Jersey on Monday night after meeting with Feaster for his year-end evaluation. “I don’t know 100 percent what they are or are not doing. Obviously I will be affected by hockey operations systems, whether I like it or not.”

To read the full article, see the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat.

CHL Playoffs Game Night 4/16: Goliath Falls

Everett 2 @ Prince George 8
Prince George wins best-of-7 series 4-2

The Everett Silvertips entered the 2007 WHL Playoffs with the league's best record, its top seed, and the top ranking in the entire Canadian Hockey League. In fact, Everett was ranked No.1 in the CHL 14 of the last 15 weeks of the season. They entered Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals series with Prince George with a 2 games to 0 lead on the Cougars, seemingly coasting to the WHL Conference Finals.

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