Stat of the night: the winner of Game One in the Calder Cup Finals has gone on to hoist the championship 74.9% of the time.
Norfolk Leads the Series 1-0
Dustin Tokarski allowed 1 goal on 24 shots for the victory. He came within an eyelash of setting an all-time AHL playoff shutout streak record. Norfolk's playing a championship brand of defense right now. They're not allowing a lot of chances and the few times they do, they're getting the timely save from Tic. If they keep playing defense like they have since they tightened up at the end of the Connecticut series in the Eastern Semis, it's hard to imagine they can lose a 7 game series.
NOR Conacher, (2) (Johnson, Oberg), 12:21
NOR Johnson, (4) (Barberio, Conacher), 10:03 (PP)
TOR Ashton, (1) (Scott, Gardiner), 3:57
NOR Segal, (4) (Smith, Gudas), 19:31 (EN)
Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars. When the chips are down, you need your best players to be your best players. Conacher was the best player in the league the first half of the AHL regular season and TJ was probably the best in the second half, but neither has really had a dominant playoffs. Tonight they stepped up at the time when they were needed to put their club over the top.
Looking deeper into the box score there's some interesting nuggets to consider going into Game Two. Norfolk outshot Toronto a very impressive 42-24 in the game, as Toronto struggled with the speed and tenacity that have really been the cornerstones of Norfolk's game this year. But, Norfolk allowed Toronto 10 power plays to the Admirals' 5, which is unacceptable. Then again, that kind of puts the quality of Norfolk's night defensively into even better perspective. If you allow an 10-5 PP disparity and still outshoot your opponents 42-24, that says something.
I suspect Norfolk wanted to set a tone with the machismo tonight against a Brian Burke led Toronto organization that prides themselves on being able to bloody their opponents' noses. Norfolk does have some guys on their roster who are speedsters who are on the slight side, and an uninformed scouting report might say to try to push them around. This Admirals team has relished the physical challenge all year, though. They don't care if the Marlies have Don Cherry's endorsement, and while they do have a few guys who are small speedsters with skill, it would be incredibly foolish to think they can't handle their business when called upon. They've got jam in every flavor. Norfolk probably got a little overzealous in that respect, though, and I suspect that, with the point proven, Jon Cooper's going to reel his boys in. Tomorrow night's going to be a huge game for Norfolk, because you want to head into Toronto with the luxury of really only having to win 1 of 3 in Toronto before, if necessary, going back to Scope for Game Six and Game Seven. They can make their lives a lot easier and go a long way toward finishing the drill, overall, by focusing in and getting this big Game Two "W" tomorrow night.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
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.
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€¦ Dustin Tokarski, G, Norfolk Admirals (AHL).
AHL Eastern Conference Champions.
Norfolk Wins the Series 4-0
Dustin Tokarski turned away all 28 shots he faced for his second consecutive shutout. When you go 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals with a GAA that is sub 0.50, that's pretty good. Norfolk played great defense in front of Tic, but when stops needed to be made he was in position to make the routine look routine. Heading into the Calder Cup Finals, he's 7-2-0 with 2 shutouts, a 1.65 GAA, and a .939 save percentage. Even Riku Helenius is envious of those numbers.
NOR Oberg, (2) (Picard, Angelidis), 15:15
NOR Johnson, (3) (Palat, Barberio), 17:47 (PP)
NOR Smith, (4) (Labrie, Aulie), 1:41
NOR Segal, (3) (Johnson), 9:28 (PP)
Norfolk put its killer instinct on full display tonight, outshooting St. John's 18-7 in the First Period en route to the 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Nothing against Newfoundland, but the Ads clearly had no intention of sticking around for a Game Five on Saturday.
Tokarski and Trevor Smith were the game's first and second stars.
And now, as the great Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part. With Toronto leading the Western Conference Finals 2-1, the earliest that series could be over is Game Five on Friday. Ideally, that series would go the distance, ending next week on Wednesday in Oklahoma City, meaning the winner would have to fly halfway across the country to play a well rested, healthy, hungry Admirals team. Whenever the Finals start know this: banners are nice, and the Admirals have already won two of them, but this sport is played for Cups. Period. They've come too far on this odyssey to settle for the silver medal. I've said it over and over this season, and every time they've answered the bell. Admirals: finish the drill.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Norfolk Leads the Series 3-0
Dustin Tokarski stopped all 25 shots he faced for the shutout win. That's Dustin's second career playoff shutout as a pro. He had one last year against the Penguins. He really only had to stare down a couple of really good chances all night, as Norfolk's defense was suffocating all game long.
NOR Labrie, (4) , 1:37
Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Tokarski were the game's second and third stars. Labrie became the hero after blocking a St. John's point shot, collecting the puck, steaming down left wing, and depositing a wrist shot in the back of the net for the Overtime winner.
Defenseman Scott Jackson left the game early and did not return after taking a shot to the side of the head.
Norfolk goes for the sweep in Game Four tomorrow. Keep in mind the early Newfoundland start time of 6:00 pm Eastern Time. Toronto bested Oklahoma City 5-3 earlier in the day to take a 2-1 series lead in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals, and their Game Four is Wednesday. It would behoove Norfolk to finish the drill tomorrow night and try to gain a big rest/health advantage heading into the Calder Cup Finals.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Half way to the Calder Cup Finals.
Norfolk Leads the Series 2-0
Dustin Tokarski was cooler than the other side of the pillow with 30 saves on 31 shots. The numbers look great after two pretty good performances to start the Eastern Conference Finals: 6-2-0, 0 SO, 2.06 GAA, .924 save percentage. Nice.
NOR Panik, (3) (Oberg, Smith), 0:51
STJ Albert, (3) (Postma, Murray), 1:51
NOR Picard, (7) (Kostka, Angelidis), 15:38
NOR Picard, (8) (Cote), 19:07 (EN)
Alexandre Picard and Tokarski were the game's first and second stars. Picard moves out ahead in the race for playoff MVP, now sporting 8 goals and 14 points in 12 games.
Panik attack, y'all.
Trevor Smith has the quietest 12 points in 12 games I've ever seen.
After a sloppy defensive performance in Game Four of the Connecticut series, the Admirals have really put the forcefield up. They've allowed just 3 goals in the past 4 games, and with the offensive weapons they have, no team is beating them in a seven game series if they continue to play this well in their own end. Now it's getting really exciting.
Now Norfolk is playing with house money heading to St. John's for three games. All they have to do is win one of three up north to give themselves a great chance to take this series, and if they can manufacture a win in Game Three on Monday, they've got a chance to shorten this series and get themselves a big health and rest advantage on whoever is the Western Conference representative. Oklahoma City and Toronto split the first two games of their series, and could be in for a long struggle.
Box score from TheAHL.com.