Jonathan Boutin is a winner!
Jonathan Boutin stopped 29 of 30 shots faced to improve his record to 12-11-3 this season, with two shutouts, a 2.94 GAA, and a .910 save percentage.
NOR Lessard, (16) (Leach, Scalzo), 7:17 (PP)
POR Wirtanen, (10) (Ryan, Salcido), 6:29 (PP)
NOR Milley, (18) (Keller, Kearns), 7:50
NOR Rosehill, (3) (Klinkhammer, Szczechura), 13:26
NOR Smolenak, (6) (Scalzo, Szczechura), 0:15
NOR Smolenak, (7) (Lessard), 16:42
Oh boy, Pete's got opinion tonight. This will get lost in the Brad Richards saga over the next week, but someone needs to stick up for Jonathan Boutin. Claude Loiselle has announced the Lightning's intention to pursue Vasily Koshechkin next summer and they already have first round pick Riku Helenius under contract for next season. A Koshechkin/Helenius tandem would inevitably push Boutin out of Norfolk and possibly out of the organization altogether, and Loiselle had some unkind things to say about Boutin earlier in the season when the Admirals were struggling. Now there's a very real possibility (and I don't want to jinx the young man) that Boutin could finish the season with a winning record, a GAA below 3.00, and a save percentage above .910. It puzzles me why the Lightning seem bent on giving up on Boutin just when the young man is finally starting to come into his own as a professional. I hope someone in this organization steps up and realizes how much this young man has improved over the past three or four years and does the right thing and finds a way to keep him around. I also hope, and I know the Ads fans agree with me, that when the deadline passes (and Denis is either gone on re-entry waivers or the reality of being stuck with him sinks in) the organization decides to give Boutin two out of every three starts from now on rather than trotting out Marc Denis every other game to underperform. This Admirals team has a chance to have a really strong last month of the season and lay the foundation for a very successful 2008-2009 season. That doesn't happen if Denis keeps fouling the nest in a rotation where one goaltender is clearly playing better than the other.
How 'bout that Radek Smolenak?
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Victoria Grizzlies 7 @ Langley Chiefs 2
W Justin Courtnall, VIC: 0-0-0, 2 PIM (charging)
Tri-City Storm 1 @ Chicago Steel 2
W/C Luca Cunti, CHI: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (hooking), 2 shots on goal
Vancouver Giants 3 @ Kelowna Rockets 1
G Torrie Jung, KEL: Loss, stopped 22 of 25 shots
Portland Winter Hawks 2 @ Seattle Thunderbirds 6
G Riku Helenius, SEA: Did not play.
DeSerres gets both games for Seattle this weekend.
Lethbridge Hurricanes 4 @ Red Deer Rebels 3 (SO)
C Mitch Fadden, LET: 1-0-1, +1, 0 PIM, *Third Star*
Fadden forced overtime for Lethbridge when he scored his 30th goal with just over a minute left in regulation. Mike Egenerâ€™s brother, Luke, had a goal and an assist for Red Deer.
It would be extremely sad if Brad Richards or Dan Boyle's Lightning careers ended like this.
Boston 5:08, Mark Stuart 3 (Marco Sturm)
Tampa Bay 11:12, Michel Ouellet 8 (Brad Richards, Jan Hlavac)
Boston 18:25, Glen Murray 13 (power play) (Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard)
Boston 0:17, Glen Murray 14 (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 17:43, Vaclav Prospal 29 (power play) (Dan Boyle, Johan Holmqvist)
Boston 18:56, P.J. Axelsson 11 (shorthanded) (Glen Metropolit)
Tonight was probably Vaclav Prospal and (mercifully) Chris Gratton's last games in a Lightning uniform. It might've been the last go round for several other players as well. The irony of the last goal of tonight being scored by Vaclav Prospal, from Dan Boyle and Holmqvist was not lost on me. All three could conceivably be gone when the Lightning take to the ice Wednesday against the Wild.
The Lightning only dressed 5 defensemen tonight (as if only playing Janik 2-4 minutes a night wasn't enough of a clue the coaches have no faith in him) with Dan Boyle playing a ridiculous 37 minutes. The situation was exacerbated by Shane O'Brien only getting 14 minutes of ice time. What a mess. Recall Matt Smaby.
Just a sad, sad night, and this organization probably is going to have to wait until June at the draft before they have anything to really feel good about.
Wild and wooly.
Marc Denis allowed 6 goals on 37 shots before allowing 3 of 5 shooters to score for the shootout loss. Remember how I said about a week ago that maybe Denis' play was turning up just enough to get him back to the NHL on re-entry waivers? Um, yeah, scratch that. We're stuck with him.
NOR Lessard, (15) (Keller, Mihalik), 2:36
MCH Boyle, (22) (Moulson, Gauthier), 6:44 (PP)
MCH Zeiler, (3) (Murray, Klemm), 7:39
MCH Moulson, (19) (Tukonen, Milam), 13:42 (PP)
MCH Meckler, (16) (Boyle), 19:56 (SH)
NOR Milley, (16) (Scalzo, Smaby), 0:14
NOR Milley, (17) (Keller, Jones), 14:38
NOR Wanvig, (19) (Stewart, Fletcher), 16:03
NOR Jones, (9) (Keller, Milley), 2:52
MCH Moulson, (20) (Lewis), 5:45
NOR Szczechura, (13) (Smolenak), 15:52
MCH Gauthier, (20) (Meckler, Hersley), 19:52 (PP)
MAN- Boyle, Meckler, Moulson
Yes, you read right, the Ads came within 8 seconds of winning the game in regulation before allowing Gauthier's tying power play goal. Stat of the game: Manchester 3-for-4 on the power play, Norfolk 0-for-5. The Ads also allowed a shorthanded marker on the night. Special teams were not so special tonight and that made all the difference on the scoreboard.
That said, kudos to the Admrials for battling back from a 4-1 first period hole to get a point. The "battle level", as Claude Loiselle likes to say, has gone through the roof on this team in the last month. That was job one for the Ads this season: create that never-say-die work ethic. Once that foundation gets laid, everything else gets a lot easier.
Blair Jones was named second star of the game for Norfolk. Jones had 1 goal, 1 assist, and was +2.
Justin Keller had 3 helpers and was +4 and has been busily doing everything it takes to get his card punched for Tampa in the coming weeks.
Vladimir Mihalik had an assist and was +3 on the night. For all the Norfolk fans who want to tar and feather the Vladasaurus, that put the big Slovak at +3 for the season.
Radek Smolenak's assist on what almost was the game winner continued a solid last month and a half for the big Czech winger. Smolenak has 5 goals and 11 points in his last 16 games. Cup of coffee. Give him one.
After a wickedly bad start to his Admirals career which saw him a tragic -15 with Norfolk at the end of December (yuck), Mario Scalzo is a much more respectable -2 in the last two months and has 3 goals and 10 points in 21 games over that time period.
The improvement is pretty much across the board amongst the prospects on the team in the last couple of months. It's very exciting.
Box score from TheAHL.com.