Tyler Johnson isn't one for grand acceptance speeches.
After winning the award as the American Hockey League's Most Valuable Player, the Syracuse Crunch forward gave most of the credit to his teammates, the coaching staff and the organization.
Johnson preferred to show how he earned it. He registered his second hat trick of the season, leading the Crunch to a 6-1 rout of the Norfolk Admirals at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday.
"I though tonight we played a good solid team game, a full 60," Johnson said. "I thought we played pretty well. If we keep doing that, I think we'll be alright."
Syracuse, which has points in five straight games, has a three-point lead over Binghamton in the East Division, and can clinch with a win or a Senators loss Saturday.
Wow. I feel like we need to issue a formal apology to all our friends in Norfolk for that savage beat down tonight.
Cedrick Desjardins allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the victory. For those wondering, Pat Nagle has been backing up Desjardins because Riku Helenius had some family issues back in Finland that required attention. Hopefully Riku will be back for the playoffs.
SYR Angelidis, (11) (Wyman, Brown), 14:20
SYR Johnson, (34) (Sexton, Wyman), 14:58
SYR Wyman, (13) (Palat, Johnson), 19:02
SYR Namestnikov, (7) (Devos, Connolly), 11:56
NOR Maroon, (25) (Guenin), 13:32
SYR Johnson, (35) (Palat, Sexton), 19:11
SYR Johnson, (36) , 7:48
Tyler Johnson, J.T. Wyman, and Mike Angelidis were the game's three stars. The freshly minted AHL MVP, Johnson, celebrated with an incredible 3 goal, 4 point effort to start off a 3 game weekend set that will be so critical for playoff position.
Brian Lee was +4 in the contest. Several members of the Bolt Prospects message board's heads just exploded after reading that. Mind you, he also took a major for slashing and got kicked out of the game. I would suspect a suspension may follow.
Two games remain in the regular season. Providence toppled Springfield tonight 5-3, which clinches the top seed in the East for Providence. However, with Springfield going down and Syracuse winning, the Crunch now move to within 2 points of the Falcons with a game in hand. The Crunch also expanded their division lead over Binghamton to 3 points after Bingo lost to Manchester tonight. Each team has 2 games left on their schedules, including the head-to-head matchup Sunday. The loss for Norfolk was a particularly bad one with the Admirals, at this moment, in a 4-way tie at 79 points for one of the last 2 playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. How deeply ironic would it be if Syracuse had to face Norfolk in the first round? That prospect looks much more remote after tonight, but it's still at least on the edge of the table right now.
So here's the schedule for Saturday: Springfield draws Adirondack (eliminated from playoff contention), Binghamton gets Hershey (one of the clubs in that 4-way tie), and Syracuse gets Worcester (eliminated from playoff contention). Syracuse can make the division elementary with a win, thereby clinching not less than the 3 seed for the playoffs. Jumping Springfield may be a harder task for the Crunch with the Falcons likely holding the tiebreak at the finish line with a 2 game lead in the regulation win column right now.
Some other accounting issues heading into the end of the regular season:
- Syracuse still leads the AHL in goals scored by 10.
- Tyler Johnson is 8th in the AHL in scoring and Brett Connolly is currently tied for 10th.
- Mark Barberio is in 6th amongst AHL defensemen in scoring.
- Johnson also leads the league in goals by 3 with Connolly tied for 4th.
- Johnson is also 6th in power play goals.
- Connolly is tied for tops in game winning goals.
- Ondrej Palat is tied for 8th in the league in helpers.
- Despite being in Tampa for about a month, Radko Gudas is still 6th in the AHL in penalty minutes.
- Gudas is also still leading the league in +/- with teammates Johnson, Palat, and J.P. Cote all tied for 3rd. Dmitry Korobov is tied for 8th.
- Barberio is 9th in the league in shots on goal.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Another respectable, competitive effort in garbage time of the season.
Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 35 shots for the loss.
04:04 MTL Galchenyuk (9), (Gallagher, Drewiske)
15:05 MTL Gionta (13), (Plekanec, Pacioretty)
17:36 TB Panik (5), (Hedman, Killorn)(PP)
05:07 TB Lecavalier (10), (Pouliot, Hedman)
19:13 MTL Gionta (14), (Weber, Ryder)
At this stage of the season, I'm looking for effort and competitiveness more so than wins. Baby steps.
With 4 goals and 19 points now in 40 games, we can start to take a peek at what Victor Hedman might be at in an 82 game season. It comes out to a very respectable 8 goal, 39 point season. Bear in mind Hedman's gotten a greener light since Cooper took over behind the bench, which is why I'd expect his scoring pace to pick up.
Alex Killorn had a helper and was +1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 13:08. It's been interesting to see his ice time slowly turned down. Projected over 82 games, Killorn's 7 goals and 19 points in 34 games pro-rates to 17 goals and 46 points. Pretty good rookie numbers.
Richard Panik had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 10:59. That scoring line on his power play goal, being assisted by Killorn and Hedman, was like a telegram from the future. It's a much smaller sample set of 22 games, but his 5 goals and 9 points projects to about 19 goals and 34 points in an 82 game season, which is pretty good given how small his average ice time numbers are. It might be hard to consider holding him off the team next season.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 20:35.
Pierre-Cedric Labrie played 10:19.
KHL Playoffs (Russia):
Gagarin Cup Finals
Chelyabinsk 2 vs. Dynamo Moscow 3 (OT)
Dynamo Moscow Wins the Series 4-2
Dynamo Moscow Wins the Gagarin Cup
Nikita Nesterov, Chelyabinsk, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM, 0 SOG
Playoff totals: 19 GP, 0-4-4, -3, 6 PIM
Regular season totals (KHL): 35 GP, 0-1-1, +6, 14 PIM
Regular season totals (MHL): 2 GP, 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Alexei Tsvetkov scored 5:57 into Overtime to lift Dynamo Moscow to a 3-2 Gagarin Cup clinching victory in Game Six of their series with Traktor Chelyabinsk. Lightning prospect Nikita Nesterov was scoreless in 18:26 of ice time on the blueline for Traktor. Ex-Lightning draft pick Marek Kvapil had a helper in the victory for Dynamo. Potential top-10 pick and Chelyabinsk forward Valery Nichushkin will now join Russia's U18 World Junior Championships team. The game marks the end of the European prospect season for Bolt Prospects.
We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for April 17 is … Nikita Kucherov, W, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL – Canada).
Karma, thy name is Kucherov.