CHL Playoffs Tonight: 4/25

[b]WHL[/b] [url=blair-jones]Blair Jones[/url] and the Moose Jaw Warriors failed to take a stranglehold on Medicine Hat in their Eastern Conference Final Tuesday night as the Warriors fell on home ice to the Tigers, 5-3. Moose Jaw, who had won both Games 1 and 2 in Medicine Hat, still leads the series, but instead of 3-0 as expected, it's 2-1. Jones had a goal and an assist in the game, as well as an Even rating. He opened the scoring half-way through the first period with his seventh goal of the playoffs. The Tigers would score the next three and four of the next five goals before Jones assisted on Troy Brouwer's goal at the 14-minute mark of the third to bring Moose Jaw within one. Jones leads all playoff scorers in the WHL with 7 goals and 17 points in 16 games.

Playoff Game Night 4/25: Senators at Lightning

Ottawa now leads the series 2-1 after a blood bath in game three. OTT-8 (7) TB-4 (5) I'd like to thank the refs for A.) awarding Ottawa their third goal by not calling a blatant boarding penalty on the Sens third goal and B.) robbing [url=evgeny-artyukhin]Evgeny Artyukhin[/url] of his first career playoff goal late in the third period on a phantom "kicking motion" call on a goal that never should've even been reviewed. Apparently the league office didn't want Ray Emery's stats/confidence to be scarred by a meaningless goal in the final minute of the contest. Ridiculous. The referees certainly didn't cost the Lightning this game, they did that all by themselves, but Kerry Fraser and Eric Furlatt should be severely reprimanded by the league for an inept display of officiating that allowed the game to degenerate into a small scale riot. I'd also like to thank Chris Neil for proving to the entire league that he is a guttless puke who doesn't have the rocks to stand accountable for his actions on the ice. After challenging a 40 year old goaltender to a fight (very brave) he proceeded to turtle and pee himself in fear when squaring off with Chris Dingman (who couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper sack). My guess is Neil probably confused Ottawa's training staff when he first got to the team when he tried to give them his skirt size instead of his jersey size. And Vaclav Varada? Not much better. On the positive side, [url=paul-ranger]Paul Ranger[/url] scored his first two career NHL playoff goals in the game in garbage time. No matter what happens from here on out, I am happy that many more people around the league are finally being exposed to what a fine young player Ranger is. Also, I'd like to applaud the work of Ryan Craig in this game. He came back from a puck in the face to consistently answer the bell to defend his teammates throughout the game. My only regret is that he couldn't get ahold of Varada after he boarded Ruslan Fedotenko and choke the life out of the rotten little weasel. Ranger was -1 in 23:30 with 7 shots on goal, 1 hit and 3 blocked shots. Tonight may have been the night his offensive potential finally began to blossom. Craig was -2 in 10:26 with 1 shot and one hit. His speed has put him at a disadvantage in this series, but there's still time for him to contribute in other areas, particularly on the Lightning's slumbering power play. Evgeny Artyukhin was +1 (should've been +2) with 3 hits (and should've been 1/1 on shots on goal too). The Lightning now have to regain their composure going into a critical game four matchup. A loss likely spells the end of the season. A win will throw the pressure right back onto the Sens' backs in game five. Tim Taylor missed the second half of the game with an "upper body injury" which may lead to the first appearance of Rob Dimaio in this series. Either way, the Lightning must balance the need to be physically aggressive with the need to stay out of the box in game four and they must begin to minimize the mistakes made by their defensemen and backchecking forwards alike that are leading to breakdowns and odd man situations. Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS030113.HTM]NHL.com.[/url]

Evaluating Springfield

[b]The Bottom Line[/b] The 2005-2006 Springfield Falcons finished with a 28-48-4-3 record for 65 points, which placed the team 6th in the Atlantic Division and 12th of 13 teams in the Eastern Conference a full 20 points out of a playoff spot. The season was a modest 8 point improvement over last year's team which finished 24-47-3-6 with 57 points. At year's end Head Coach Dirk Graham and Assistant Coach Phil Russell were dismissed from the team.

Playoff Game Night 4/23: Lightning at Senators

Series tied 1-1. Lightning take home ice away from Ottawa. Were it not for one bad period, Ottawa would be down 2-0 in this series. They. Are. Chokers. OTT-3 TB-4 John Grahame stops 21 of 24 in the win. Lightning settled down after an uneven first period to outshoot Ottawa 36-24. But it took the goal of the year by Dan Boyle to even the score at 3 in the third period to really shift the momentum in full in this series. [url=paul-ranger]Paul Ranger[/url], who received a ton of ice time in this game, notched his first two NHL playoff points on helpers on Boyle's goal and Brad Richards' breakaway goal. He was even in 21:57 with 1 shot, 2 hits and 1 blocked shot. [url=ryan-craig]Ryan Craig[/url] was even in 14:49 with 2 shots, 3 hits and 1 block. [url=evgeny-artyukhin]Evgeny Artyukhin[/url] played 3:41 and was -1 with 1 shot. Win game three and watch Ottawa crumble. Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS030112.HTM]NHL.com.[/url]

CHL Playoffs Tonight: 4/22

[b]WHL[/b] The Moose Jaw Warriors have taken a commanding 2-0 lead in their series against Medicine Hat winning tonight 4-3 in overtime. Both of Moose Jaw's wins have come on Medicine Hat ice putting the Tigers squarely behind the eight ball going into game three. [url=blair-jones]Blair Jones[/url] was scoreless and -1 in the game.

HPK/Assat Game Four

HPK are the champions of the Finnish SM-liiga. HPK defeated Pori Assat 4-1 today to win their SM-liiga championship series 3-1. Miika Wiikman stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in the game. For Lightning prospect [url=karri-ramo]Karri Ramo[/url], who was Wiikman's backup for the series, the championship completes the worst to first transition from his Lahti Pelicans club of last season which finished dead last in the standings to HPK this season where he now can claim an SM-liiga championship.

CHL Playoffs Tonight: 4/21

And then there was one... [b]WHL[/b] Moose Jaw won game one of their WHL Eastern Conference Final series against Medicine Hat 3-2 to take a 1-0 series lead. [url=blair-jones]Blair Jones[/url] had a power play assist in the win. Through 14 postseason games thus far Jones has 6 goals and 15 points.

Playoff Game Night 4/21: Lightning at Senators

Opportunity lost. Ottawa leads the series 1-0. TB-1 OTT-4 John Grahame, who played well, stopped 34 of 37 before Ottawa tacked on an empty net goal. Grahame held Ottawa scoreless through 40 minutes before allowing three in the third period, only one of which by Spezza he could really be faulted for. The good news is that the Lightning got 36 shots on goal on Ray Emery. The shame is that they seemingly could not finish to save their lives. The team hit a couple of crossbars that could've meant a critical 2-0 or even 3-0 lead and had multiple other chances that they squandered. They have to bury those chances and get another good goaltending performance from John Grahame to even the series in game two. [url=ryan-craig]Ryan Craig[/url] was even in 16:00 in his first career playoff game. He had 2 shots and 1 hit. [url=paul-ranger]Paul Ranger[/url] played 15:38 of even hockey with 1 shot, 2 hits and 2 blocked shots. [url=evgeny-artyukhin]Evgeny Artyukhin[/url] had 2 hits in 3:22. Game sheet from [url=http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20052006/GS030111.HTM]NHL.com.[/url]

Keller Nominated for WHL Player of the Year

Lightning prospect winger [url=justin-keller]Justin Keller[/url] has been [url=http://whl.ca/news/?id=4304]nominated out of the Western Conference for WHL player of the year.[/url] Keller finished the WHL regular season 1st in goals and 5th in overall scoring before his Kelowna Rockets lost to Everett in the second round of the playoffs. Out of the Eastern Conference, goaltender Justin Pogge of Calgary may be the favorite to win the award.

CSS Final Rankings Completed

I haven't seen them officially released anywhere yet, but Bolt Prospects does have access to the CSS's password protected site and they have complete their Final Rankings for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Bolt Prospects will go into more detail on some of these players later in the summer, but for now, here's a sampler: [b]North American Skaters[/b] 1. D Erik Johnson, 6'4" 222 lbs, USNTDP (US) 2. C Jordan Staal, 6'4" 215 lbs, Peterborough (OHL) 3. C/W Jonathan Toews, 6'1.5" 195 lbs, North Dakota (WCHA) 4. C Derick Brassard, 6'0.5" 172 lbs, Drummondville (QMJHL) 5. C Phil Kessel, 6'0" 189 lbs, Minnesota (WCHA)
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