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BP Mailbag: 3-19-14

The BP Mailbag is back with more questions from Lightning Nation...

@RcaAmarante:
How good can Adam Wilcox be? He doesn't get talked about much but his numbers are amazing. @BoltProspects #BPMailbag

University of Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox (23-4-6, 1.91 GAA, .934 sv%, 3 SO) was just named the Big 10 Conference Player of the Year and remains a candidate for the Hobey Baker as the NCAA’s top player and the Mike Richter award as top goaltender. He was a sixth round pick of the Lightning in 2011.

Wilcox has good size, great athleticism, and a superb mental approach to the game. His poise and focus are among his biggest strengths. How good can he be? Goaltenders are the hardest to judge – just look at the number of failed top picks and successful late picks. However, Wilcox appears to have the mental and physical attributes to make it to the NHL and be a solid player.

He’ll be a junior next year at Minnesota if he stays in school, and speculation is he will stay in school as both Syracuse goalie spots appear to be taken by Andrey Vasilevskiy and Kristers Gudlevskis, respectively. While there is an opening at Goaltender No. 5, I don’t know that Wilcox would leave his throne in the Gophers net for the ECHL. My guess is he comes out after his junior year and takes one of the Syracuse spots. Then it’s at least two years before he’s flirting with NHL time. It’s a long process, but he has the ability to be a solid NHL net minder.

KHL Playoff Game Day: 3-18-14

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(4)Ufa 2 vs. (5)Novgorod 1
Ufa Wins the Series 4-3
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, Win, 34/35, 1.00 GAA, .971 sv%
Regular season totals: 28 GP, 14-8-5, 3 SO, 2.21 GAA, .923 sv%
Playoff totals: 7 GP, 4-3-0, 0 SO, 1.95 GAA, .934 sv%

Andrey Vasilevskiy helped burnish his credentials as a big game goaltender, turning aside 34 shots to help Ufa overcome a 35-21 shot disparity in the team's Game Seven, 2-1, opening round triumph over Novgorod. Ufa built a 2-0 lead in the contest thanks in part to a goal by former Senators second rounder Igor Mirnov and held on for the 2-1 win. Defenseman Sergei Bernatsky had Novgorod's lone goal.

The 4 seed Ufa moves on to face 2nd seeded Barys Astana in the Eastern Conference Semifinals round starting Friday.

Nadezhda Cup
Omsk 8 vs. Khanty-Mansiysk 2
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 1-1-2, -1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG
Regular season totals: 44 GP, 8-6-14, -6, 10 PIM
Tournament totals: 5 GP, 3-2-5, -1, 0 PIM

Ouch. Trailing by 2 goals in aggregate coming into the game, Omsk took a 2-1 series lead and a 4 goal lead in aggregate by pummeling Yugra 8-2. The two teams will square off again tomorrow in the final game of their second round set, but Yugra will have to win by a staggering 5 goals to move on in the Nadezhda Cup on aggregate. Good luck. Valiantly, Nikita Gusev had a multi-point effort in 15:57 of ice time in defeat. Omsk got a hat trick from former Flyers draft pick Stefan Ruzicka and 4 helpers from former Montreal Canadien Sergei Kostitsyn in the win.

NHL Game Night: 3-17-14 Canucks at Lightning

Good win tainted by lackluster garbage time performance.

VAN-3
TB-4

Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 28 shots for the victory. For the longest it looked like he was going to get his second straight shutout, but then the Lightning decided to dog it a bit in garbage time. They'll learn. Eventually.

First Period
17:56 TB Stamkos (16), (Palat, Callahan)(PP)

Second Period
6:54 TB Palat (18), (Carle)
19:51 TB Filppula (22), (Stamkos)

Third Period
5:44 VAN Burrows (4), (Bieksa, Edler)(PP)
8:47 TB Pyatt (3), (Brown, Hedman)
11:44 VAN Burrows (5), (Jensen, Sedin)
15:16 VAN Hansen (11), (Burrows)(SH)

Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan were the game's first and second stars.

Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full person? A glass half full person notes that the Lightning controlled the first 40+ minutes of play in this game and looked like a very polished, well-structured team in the process. A glass half empty person will note that their garbage time stumbles could've easily cost them 2 points were it not for the team getting 2 greasy goal deflections off Canucks defensemen and that absolute gift of a soft goal Lack gave Pyatt. I'm feeling like more of a glass half full person tonight, with the caveat that these garbage time SH goals need to stop. Now. They're the root of a lot of the recent late game drama, and very easy to avoid/correct.

The victory puts the Lightning at 81 points with 14 games to go, now tied with Montreal for 2nd in the Atlantic Division, vaulting over their next opponent, which is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Needless to say, that's a big game. Through 8 games of this 10-game segment of the season, the team has 8 points. They'll need to win the next 2 to hit the 12 point segment goal or earn 3 of the next 4 available points to stay on the season pace to comfortably make the playoffs given the 1 insurance point they had coming into the segment.

My target for the season has always been not less than 96 points, so the magic number of points they need is 15 to hit that goal. Yes, they would likely make the postseason with 94 or 95 points, but 96 is the comfortable target that avoids last minute drama. Keeping this winning streak going at least another couple of games would go a long way to making sure that target goal is achieved.

Mike Kostka was -1 with 1 shot in 15:41. This was the most inactive I've seen him in a game since his first game coming over from the Blackhawks. He might've opened the door for Barberio to get back in the lineup. We'll see.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Bolt Prospect of the Week: March 17, 2014

We continue our Bolt 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 Bolt Prospect of the Week for March 17, 2014 is … Jonathan Drouin, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL – Canada).

He did it again.

Jonathan Drouin had a six-point game a week ago, earning him our Bolt Prospect of the Week. We jokingly said it was because the previous week’s winner, Matt Peca, had a six-point game and Drouin had never hit six points in a regular season game.

Not only did Drouin do it again, but he topped it.

In the final regular season game of his junior career, Drouin had seven points on Saturday vs Cape Breton – the same team he scored six against a week earlier. With 13 points in his last two games against the Screaming Eagles, Drouin is probably banned from visiting Sydney, Nova Scotia, for life.

NCAA Game Night: 3-16-14

Colorado College Tigers 3 @ No. 10 North Dakota 4
NCHC Quarterfinals

F Brendan O’Donnell, UND: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG
Season totals: 30 GP, 7-8-15, +5, 8 PIM
2012-2013 totals: 29 GP, 2-8-10, E, 20 PIM

O’Donnell scored just over two minutes into the third period to give UND a 4-2 lead. They’d need that goal as Colorado College scored with 89 seconds remaining to cut the lead to one. UND held on to advance to the NCHC Frozen Face-off next weekend.

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