This season Bolt Prospects introduced our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their on-ice contributions. There are no trophies or plaques, but a song remake may be in the works.
We wanted to highlight prospects throughout the year to help fans get better acquainted with the next round of Lightning stars while recognizing the prospectâ€™s achievement on the ice.
This weekâ€™s BP Prospect of the Week award goes to â€¦ Tyler Johnson, Norfolk Admirals (AHL).
AHL rookie Tyler Johnson didnâ€™t have an especially fantastic week on the ice last week â€“ he had one assist in two Norfolk wins â€“ but that point was his 22nd of the month of March. The former Spokane Chief, who was signed as a free agent by the Lightning last March, averaged just short of two points per game this month, finishing with those 22 points in 12 games. He scored in nine straight games and finished a 13-game point streak on March 30. He has helped the Ads to 23 straight wins, a hockey universe record.
He was also awarded the AHL Player of the Month, making this his second-straight March to remember.
Brian Bellows, for the Eastern Conference top seed win!
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 26 shots for his 30th victory of the season, which leads the league. It's his 11th straight win, personally, and he raised his save percentage to .912 with his effort tonight. He's trying to track down his personal best as a pro, his .915 save percentage from his rookie campaign.
NOR Ouellet, (15) (Panik, Barberio), 8:09 (PP)
WBS Lerg, (25) (Grant), 14:23
NOR Barberio, (12) (Johnson), 12:23 (PP)
Mark Barberio, Tokarski, and Michel Ouellet were the game's three stars. Barberio continues to lead the league's defensemen in scoring by a wide margin of 13 points, and he's now 1 point shy of the 60 point plateau for the year. It's hard to imagine any scenario where he doesn't win hardware as the league's top defenseman.
Panik attack, y'all.
There will be two banners raised in Norfolk in the Fall. The victory, the Admrials' 50th of the season, puts away the Eastern Conference top seed (bring on the "z"), and they now have the opportunity to zero in on clinching the top spot in the entire league. They have a 10 point lead on Oklahoma City with the Barons still with 6 games left to play, so the magic number is 2 for the AHL equivalent of the President's Trophy, as the Barons can't catch Norfolk in ROW. The Barons are currently in action, leading Hamilton, but if they stumble, then Norfolk will clinch that distinction tonight, as well. Norfolk has just 5 games remaining in the regular season. They draw Binghamton on Friday and Saturday.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
As a formality, I jumped the gun a bit last night, declaring the East Division clinched by the Admirals. It was a foregone conclusion already, but with Hershey losing in regulation tonight to St. John's, the Admirals did indeed clinch their division and their will be at least one banner raised at Scope in the Fall. The upshot of the division title is that it likely means Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Hershey will beat each other up in the 4/5 matchup in the first round, which is strategically to Norfolk's favor.
The magic "y" has appeared beside Norfolk's name in the standings, and that's about to be converted to a "z" with one more point won by Norfolk or lost by St. John's. The magic number for the best record in the entire AHL is 4 points won by the Ads or lost by Oklahoma City.
Congratulations to the Norfolk Admirals on the first of their team goals accomplished.
Bob Halkidis (yes)!
Dustin Tokarski stopped all 32 shots he faced for the victory. In Saturday's game, he broke his previous mark for wins, and tonight's shutout, his 5th, sets a new personal best for shutouts as a pro. He also ran his winning streak to 10 games and ran his save percentage for the year up to .911. He leads the league in wins by 3 at 29 and he's now tied for second in shutouts, 1 back of Ottawa's Ben Bishop.
NOR Palat, (8) (Barberio, Johnson), 12:27 (SH)
NOR Panik, (19) (Ouellet, Johnson), 17:34 (PP)
Tokarski and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. While Johnson saw his goals streak snapped tonight, he ran his points streak to 13 games.
Don't look now, but with 40 points, Richard Panik is now tied for 15th in scoring amongst AHL rookies. The Panik attack is 1 goal shy of the magic 20 goal plateau.
Happy Birthday to Ondrej Palat, who celebrated with the game winning, shorthanded goal.
Among the wonderful things the Admirals win streak has already done, we can add this blog's first ever reference to former Lightning defenseman Bob Halkidis.
Standings-wise, the Admirals' magic number for clinching the division has now dropped to 2 points. A Norfolk win Friday or a Wilkes-Barre Scranton loss to Connecticut gets it done. In the conference, tonight's critical 4-point win did a lot to advance things for the Admirals, as they dropped that magic number from 10 to 6 with a single victory. A win Friday will make everything almost elementary. Norfolk could run their lead on St. John's to 15 points, with only 8 games remaining on the IceCaps' schedule, and there would be no way for St. John's to catch the Admirals in ROW, meaning the magic number will actually drop to 1.
Box score from TheAHL.com.