John Tortorella's trial balloon regarding sending The Kid down to the minors is in the process of being shot down, doused in gasoline, lit on fire, and then having the fire smothered by having it repeatedly run over by the Zamboni. Wow.
Karri Ramo set a career high in saves tonight stopping 38 of 39 shots in a sterling first star performance to raise his record to 7-10-3 in this rookie campaign. And he did it with style tonight too, chipping in a power play assist and flashing leather like Carl Crawford on the final play of the game to preserve the win. Anyone who wants to send this young man to the minors next season is smoking pine cones. He might already be better than Mike Smith, and in 4 years when he is the same age as Smith is now there's little doubt in my mind Ramo's going to be in a much higher rent district in terms of his career trajectory. He's the real deal. Again, the average 21 year old would've crumbled after losing in overtime to Washington the way he did. Ramo is teflon. It doesn't stick to him, and that's why he's damned near bust-proof as a prospect.
Matt Smaby played 18:42 in his first extended screen test for next season. The Lightning moved Smaby onto a pairing with Dan Boyle and he responded with an even rating and 2 hits. Other than a puckhandling gaffe in the second period which almost led to an Eric Staal ten bell scoring chance, he was error free and got a regular PK shift and was out on the ice to help kill the 6-on-4 at the end of the game. Very impressive. I wonder if Smaby is moving ahead of Mike Lundin on the depth chart. I have a feeling if he doesn't blow it, the coaching staff will be perfectly happy to leave him paired with Boyle, getting solid minutes, learning his craft, and gaining momentum heading into next season.
Jussi Jokinen hit 40 points for the season with a multi-point game tonight and Jeff Halpern continues to earn his place as the people's champion on this team, scoring his 19th of the season tonight. These two guys were nowhere statistically playing limited minutes in Dallas. They've exploded offensively since coming to Tampa.
I have been astonished at the work ethic of this Lightning club over the last month of the season. It would've been the easiest thing in the world for this team to lay down after the deadline deals that sent Richards and Prospal out of town. That hasn't happened. In fact, this team is working harder now than any Lightning team since the 2003-2004 Lightning team that bled the will out of Calgary in seven games. The saying is "The harder you work the luckier you get." If it's true, the Lightning's ping pong ball is coming up on April 20th, because they're working harder than 90% of the teams in the league right now, even though pride and jobs are all they have left to play for.
Ads storm out to a 4-0 lead and hold on for the win.
Ryan Munce stopped 35 of 38 shots faced for the win.
NOR Kearns, (6) (Mihalik, Segal), 2:42 (PP)
NOR Lawrence, (5) (Klinkhammer), 12:36
NOR Smolenak, (15) (Bates), 0:41
NOR Kearns, (7) (Schneider, Tyrell), 6:40 (PP)
MCH Purcell, (21) (Milam, Likens), 10:18 (PP)
MCH Cliche, (9) (Kidd, Tukonen), 18:09
MCH Meckler, (21) (Milam), 14:40 (PP)
Bracken Kearns, Jamie Bates, and Brandon Segal were named the game's three stars. Bates, 23, was signed to an ATO contract today out of Quinnipiac University. Bates scored 123 points in his 4 year career at Quinnipiac, including 34 points in 34 games this season.
Dana Tyrell has 3 assists now in his 5 ATO games with the Admirals. Not bad for a 19 year old.
Chris Lawrence's goal was his first since November 30, 2007. The linebackeresque forward now has 1 goal and 6 points in his last 8 games. Lawrence missed a month and a half in January and February with a shoulder injury.
Tonight's win was Norfolk's 26th of the season, two shy of Springfield's total from last season. The win gave the team their 58th and 59th points of the season, which ties the Falcons' point total from last season.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Results from Lewiston, Everett and Lethbridge.
Ohio Junior Blue Jackets 1 @ Chicago Steel 6
W/C Luca Cunti, CHI: 2-1-3, +1, 0 PIM, 7 shots on goal, *First Star*
I have a feeling weâ€™ll see more stat lines like this from Cunti in the coming years. Chicago has clinched a playoff spot. Their last regular season game is April 5.
Jonathan Quick shuts out the Admirals.
Jonathan Boutin allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the loss.
MCH Boyle, (27) (Likens, Purcell), 11:58 (PP)
MCH Moulson, (27) (Kidd, Ryan), 19:14
MCH Cliche, (8) (Parse, Bagnall), 3:14
MCH Murray, (8) (Purcell), 12:53
Box score from TheAHL.com.
According to M-Live...
The Norfolk Admirals have announced the signing of Plymouth Whalers captain Andrew Fournier to a standard Amateur Tryout Contract. Fournier - who played from 2003-04 through this past season for the Whalers - is expected to make his AHL debut tonight in Norfolk as the Admirals host the Manchester Monarchs.
Fournier was never selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft and was a free agent, available to sign with any professional team.
"We're very happy for Andrew," said Plymouth head coach Greg Stefan. "He worked very hard while in Plymouth and deserves a chance to move on to a higher level of the game."
Fournier scored 35 goals and 40 assists for 75 points in 64 games this season for Plymouth. He completes his Plymouth career 19th on the team's all-time scoring list with 85 goals and 83 assists for 168 points over 226 games. Fournier's 85 career goals ranks him 12th on the Whalers all-time list (tied with David Legwand) and his 226 games played is 14th on Plymouth's all-time list (tied with Cole Jarrett).
Fournier was an integral part of the Whalers' championship team in 2007.
Note: According to theahl.com, Fournier is indeed in the Ads lineup tonight and is wearing No.21.
WHL FIRST ROUND -- WESTERN CONFERENCE
Game 5: (5) Kelowna Rockets 2 @ (4) Seattle Thunderbirds 6
Seattle leads Best of 7 series 3-2
G Torrie Jung, KEL:
Game: No decision, 17 saves on 20 shots in relief
Series: 1 GP, 0-0, 3.82 GAA, .850 sv%
G Riku Helenius, SEA:
Game: Win, 25 saves on 27 shots
Series: 4 GP, 2-2, 3.01 GAA, .900 sv%
Helenius reclaimed the No.1 spot for Seattle and though he gave up a goal 22 seconds into the game on the Rockets' first shot, he shut down Kelowna the rest of the way to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead in the series. As for Jung, he came into the game mid-way through the first period after Kristofer Westblom, who had a shaky Game 4, gave up 3 goals on 8 shots. Jung may be the favorite to start Game 6 for the Rockets Saturday night in Kelowna. Seattle has won 3 in a row in the series.
The game ended on an ugly note when Kelownaâ€™s James McEwan, a former T-Bird, blatantly tackled Helenius after the final horn resulting in both teams getting involved in a shoving match.
According to the Seattle Times, Helenius, who was uninjured, tried to laugh it off.
"Their guys were chirping at me all series," Helenius told the newspaper. "So it was a little surprising, but I don't care that much."
Kelownaâ€™s coach, Ryan Huska, responded to he incident by praising McEwanâ€™s fiery nature: â€œThatâ€™s why heâ€™s our leader.â€
Ah, the WHL.
Just in case the McEwan tackle wasnâ€™t dirty enough, Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier reports seeing this sign in the stands in Seattle regarding one of Kelownaâ€™s defensemen:
Colin Joe illegally downloads.
Now that's just cold.
Oh brother! What a way to give up that second point.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 32 shots for the overtime loss. Key play of the game: Dan Boyle gets clipped in the face (UPDATE: Erik Erlendsson blogs Boyle took a skate in the lower throat that left a flesh wound on the play) and stops playing with the play behind his net. While Boyle is not paying attention a centering feed squirts off his skate to Ramo's left. Ramo aggresively dives out to try and cover the puck (probably shouldn't have), misses, and while down and out the Caps score the winner.
You know, the fact these two young netminders are athletic and can handle the puck is a good thing, but they don't necessarily have the maturity in their decision making yet. I am all for investing in a post and a chain to keep Ramo and Smith tethered to their cage until they develop that maturity, because it seems like these two must've given up a half dozen bad goals between them straying from their cages. Mind you, I thought Ramo played well again with the exception of that play, so it's not an indictment of Karri's overall play. But jeez. These kind of goals take years off a coach's life.
Matt Smaby was even in 12:48 with 2 blocked shots. He would've been +1, but was on the ice for the Semin goal which was a clean faceoff win by Fedorov and a bang-bang shot. I like the minutes. I think Matt needs to get the coaches comfortable enough to be up around 14-15 minutes by the end of the season to have a realistic shot of making the team next season. Earning that trust is the biggest hurdle.
Results from Lewiston, Everett, Lethbridge and a quick look around the CHL, including a Stamkos update.
Admirals had no answers in the third period.
Jonathan Boutin allowed 4 goals on 35 shots for the loss.
HER Wilson, (24) (Gordon, Bourque), 4:53 (PP)
NOR Smolenak, (14) (Kearns), 16:30
HER Joudrey, (10) (Pinizzotto, Robitaille), 17:09
HER Wilson, (25) (Lepisto, Gordon), 8:17 (PP)
HER Paiement, (4) , 9:57 (PP)
Radek Smolenak keeps chugging away.
Box score from TheAHL.com.