Witkowski, Luke

NHL Preseason Game Night: 10-1-16 Lightning at Predators

Fourth game in five nights for the barnstorming Lightning.


Ben Bishop allowed 4 goals on 26 shots for the loss.

First Period
5:54 TB Nesterov (1), (Filppula, Drouin)
19:25 NSH Fisher (1), (Neal, Subban)

Second Period
5:56 NSH Subban (1), (Ribeiro)(PP)
12:37 NSH Ribeiro (1), (Forsberg)(PP)
15:18 TB Filppula (1), (Bishop, Wisniewski)

Third Period
3:07 TB Conacher (1), (unassisted)
15:37 NSH Bass (1), (Neal)

I'm having flashbacks of when Koules and Barrie owned the team and they signed up for a zillion preseason games every year to try to make a little extra scratch because they were so strapped. That's not the case with Vinik, but this is just a lot of games and a lot of travel in the span of less than a week.

Matthew Peca had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 14:20. He was also 46% on 13 draws.

Mitchell Stephens had 1 shot and 1 hit in 13:07. He was also 38% on 8 draws. Kind of interesting to see him play center rather than wing, which may be the better fit for him as a pro.

Yanni Gourde had 1 hit in 12:16.

Jeremy Morin had 1 shot in 9:10.

Slater Koekkoek had 1 hit and 2 blocked shots in 20:13. I need to go back and add up all his ice time this week, but suffice it to say he might deserve some sort of iron man trophy. Tonight the Lightning decided to give him a full load after easing him in with the mid teens of minutes earlier in the week. 3 games in 5 nights is still a lot of work.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 11 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 blocked shot in 14:12. Witkowski also deserves an iron man trophy of his own.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-30-16

Lightning miss a second straight preseason shutout by an eyelash.

CAR-1 (OT)

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just 1 goal on 28 shots for the OT win. The lone blemish was a goal surrendered in a 6-on-4 situation with 1:05 left in regulation. If the performances of the past two nights by Gudlevskis and Vasilevskiy are any indication, Yzerman might have the flexibility he needs if he does choose to move Ben Bishop for cap reasons.

First Period
5:21 TB Johnson (1), (Palat, Nesterov)[/b]

Second Period

Third Period
18:55 CAR Skinner (2), (DiGiuseppe, Rask)

1:38 TB Palat (1), (unassisted)

Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were the game's first and second stars, as the usual suspects start to calibrate their game for the regular season.

Very interesting lineup tonight from the Lightning and a pleasantly surprising performance. Tonight's group mixed in more NHL forwards, at least on the wings, but they pretty much went with Syracuse's defensive corps plus Nikita Nesterov, who may be a bubble player in this camp. It helps when you have Vasilevskiy behind you, but to almost get a shutout with that group is not too shabby.

Tanner Richard had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 17:35. He was also 33% on 12 draws. Please, Jeff Halpern, teach these kids to win faceoffs.

Brayden Point had 4 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 16:09. He was also 33% on 9 draws. Sorry, son, you don't get to score a goal every game.

Cam Darcy had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 11:31 and was 30% on 10 draws. PLEASE, Jeff Halpern, teach these kids to win faceoffs.

Joel Vermin had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 18:44.

Gabriel Dumont had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 4 blocked shots in 14:02. For a guy who didn't score, his stat line still looks quite active, I have to say.

Henri Ikonen had 1 blocked shot in 14:15. The window is closing on the young Finn.

Brian Hart had 4 hits in 10:14. He then hit someone with an aluminum chair and put them in the Sharpshooter.

Luke Witkowski was +1 with 4 hits and 2 blocked shots in 21:10. He's not giving any quarter in camp to anybody.

Dominik Masin had 2 penalty minutes, 2 shots, and 2 hits in 19:55.

Matt Taormina had 1 shot in 19:46.

Dylan Blujus had 3 blocked shots in 19:29.

Jake Dotchin had 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 19:10.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Preseason Game Night: 9-27-16 Hurricanes at Lightning

Valiant Third Period comeback bid by Junior Lightning gives hope for the future.


Kristers Gudlevskis allowed 2 goals on 23 shots before giving way to Adam Wilcox, who allowed 1 goal on 15 shots for ye old backdoor loss. It was a respectable outing for both netminders who get additional time thanks to the World Cup of Hockey.

First Period
19:07 CAR Br. Sutter (1), (Foegele)

Second Period
10:26 CAR Wallmark (1), (Kuokkanen)
11:28 CAR Skinner (1), (Stempniak, Pesce)

Third Period
11:28 TB Point (1), (Johnson, Hajek)
18:41 TB Imama (1), (Vermin, Cerelli)

Brayden Point was the game's third star.

This is going to be a strange camp/preseason because of it being chopped up by the WCOH. The silver lining is some extra time for potential future contributors like Point, who didn't embarrass themselves tonight. Among those prospects, the ice time was as follows, revealing more who the organization wanted to take a long early look at for the future than who they trust and are thinking about from an NHL roster standpoint for this season...


Brett Howden was -1 with 2 shots and 1 blocked shot in 17:50. He was also 44% on 9 draws.

Point had a goal and was +1 with 1 shot in 15:38. He was also 57% on 7 draws.

Anthony Cirelli had a helper and 1 shot in 15:36. He was also 39% on 18 draws.

Joel Vermin had a helper and was +1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 15:19.

Mathieu Joseph had 1 shot and 1 hit in 15:04.

Dennis Yan had 2 penalty minutes in 12:40.

Boko Imama had 1 goal, 3 shots, and 2 hits in 10:28. He also killed 0 Hurricanes with his fists... this time.

Libor Hajek had a helper and was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in a hefty 20:45.

Luke Witkowski was -1 with 1 shot, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 18:59.

Matthew Spencer was -1 with 4 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 3 blocked shots in 18:51.

Slater Koekkoek had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 16:23.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Lightning Re-sign Defenseman Luke Witkowski

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed defenseman Luke Witkowski to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.

Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, appeared in four games with the Lightning in 2015-16. He also made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, skating in two games during the second round against the New York Islanders. Witkowski also played in 70 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, recording three goals and 14 points. He ranked third on the team for games played and led all blue-liners for plus/minus with a plus-2 rating.

A native of Holland, Michigan, Witkowski has played in 20 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, during the previous two seasons, registering 19 penalty minutes. He has also amassed 199 career AHL games, all with Syracuse, with seven goals, 34 points and 465 penalty minutes. Witkowski has skated in three career Calder Cup Playoff games, all during the 2015 playoffs, and recorded an assist.

Witkowski was drafted in the sixth round, 160th overall, of the 2008 NHL Draft.

Witkowski Doing Dirty Work for Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

Luke Witkowski showed little hesitation in getting his hands dirty.

During a stoppage in the final minute of the third period during a game in Binghamton Saturday, a squid -- apparently thrown from the stands -- ended up on the ice. The Syracuse Crunch defenseman and avid outdoorsman took off his glove to pick up the sea creature, gave it a quick whirl as he pondered what to do with it, and sent it flying back into the stands.

“I noticed the refs were skating away from it and no one was grabbing it, so I thought I’d chuck it back up to where it came from,” Witkowski said.

Witkowski is no stranger to doing the necessary dirty work on the ice, and is now focused on improving his game with by logging big minutes in the American Hockey League to make the next step to the National Hockey League.

NHL Game Night: 11-28-15 Islanders at Lightning

Choke job on Channelside.


Ben Bishop allowed 3 goals on 22 shots for the loss.

First Period
16:20 TB Killorn (4), (Stamkos, Stralman)

Second Period
1:39 TB Stralman (2), (Stamkos, Filppula)
3:51 NYI Bailey (5), (Nelson, Strome)(PP)
16:51 NYI Clutterbuck (5), (unassisted)

Third Period
16:24 NYI Tavares (11), (Nielsen, Leddy)(PP)

Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman were the game's second and third stars.

It was Black Saturday at the rink tonight, and the Isles got 2 free points just for showing up. The Lightning absolutely dominated about 45-50 minutes of this game, but went 0-for-4 on the PP (rarely looking threatening) and going 1-for-3 on the PK (and also looking rarely threatening). When you couple those with a Clutterbuck cheapie on a puck Coburn misplayed in front of his own net, you get a tragedy like tonight's outcome. The Lightning had a chance to pull into the halfway point of this segment in very good shape to rehabilitate some of the damage they caused in games 11-20. Instead, they'll have to win 3 of the next 5 just to make sure they don't dig the hole any deeper. It's not good enough. It was something to shrug off last season when the team was so good at even strength it could get by without a functional power play and still lead the league in goals. This season, it can't be shrugged off. They HAVE to figure out this power play or they're through, and it starts with the other 4 players on the ice starting to create pressure points and take shots rather than telegraphing everything to Stamkos. If I could've reached through my TV and choked out Kucherov tonight on the power play I would've for passing up two solid chances for a lesser opportunity to Stamkos. It can't happen. It's not unselfishness. It's self-destructiveness.

Jonathan Marchessault had 1 shot, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 16:45. Marchessault nearly set up a go ahead goal late in the Third Period to Namestnikov with a good read an exceptional quickness.

Joel Vermin was -1 with 1 hit in 11:57.

Luke Witkowski had 1 shot and 3 hits in 7:31.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-25-15 Kings at Lightning

The momentum is real.

TB-2 (SO)

Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 37 shots for the victory. He was sparkling tonight. The only regulation goal he allowed was a seeing eye shot through three players and he did get victimized again 5-hole in the shootout, but on balance he was the difference in the game tonight. He's formed the backbone for the resurgence of the team the last 3 games.

First Period

Second Period

Third Period
5:57 TB Johnson (4), (Marchessault)
14:37 LA Lucic (7), (Toffoli, Carter)


LA- Kopitar
TB- Marchessault, Filppula

Bishop and J.T. Brown were the game's first and third stars. Marchessault may have gotten robbed, IMO.

That's the tightest checking team in the NHL, right there. The Kings apply so much back pressure it's stifling and I think the Lightning really struggled with it because there's not another team that gets back on you that quickly in the league. It's just really tough to get anything other than a greasy goal on those guys because you're not allowed any time and space to do anything of much creativity and they don't turn the puck over much. Credit to the Lightning for manufacturing the win, and now you look at consecutive wins against the Rangers, Ducks, and Kings. Those are three teams with talent levels that scream legit Cup contenders, and tells you the Lightning are earning their way back into the high rent district of the league. They're halfway to the segment goal of 12 points just 3 of 10 games into the segment, so they've got an opportunity to carve away at that 5 point deficit from their stinky performance in the previous 10 games. The schedule doesn't lighten up any, but it's certainly not any worse than the league heavies the Lightning put away these past three contests.

Jonathan Marchessault had a helper and was +1 with 1 hit in 11:05. His coming out party continues. He created the lone regulation goal by picking off a pass at the Kings blueline and showing good awareness to move it quickly to Johnson in open space. And, in the Shootout, he abused one of the best goaltenders in the world with a laser beam top shelf. He's making a case for himself nightly now.

Luke Witkowski had 3 hits in 5:28. Not a chance he was seeing much ice time in a game this tight on the scoreboard. Not a chance for any young d-man in the #7 role coming up from Syracuse. He got in and out of his 7 shifts without much incident, and that'll keep the coach's happy enough for tonight.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-21-15 Ducks at Lightning

Lightning getting right.


Ben Bishop stopped all 30 shots he faced tonight for the issuance of some U of Maine Justice and the shutout win. He didn't have to be as brilliant tonight, and he got help from his lucky horseshoe a couple of times, but he deserved it. After getting the short end of the stick on goal support so very often this season, he deserved to get the clean sheet in this one.

First Period

Second Period
5:57 TB Kucherov (6), (Sustr, Vermin)
12:35 TB Stamkos (10), (Callahan, Killorn)
13:49 TB Stamkos (11), (Kucherov, Namestnikov)(PP)

Third Period
5:29 TB Boyle (4), (Brown)
10:01 TB Marchessault (1), (Kucherov, Stamkos)(PP)

Bishop, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov were the game's three stars.

Styles make the fight, in boxing parlance, and Anaheim's style is very difficult for the Lightning to match up against. They're a big, fast, bludgeoning north-south team that really puts a ton of pressure on the Lightning's defense and smaller forwards. So, the Lightning don't get to comfortably play the possession style they're used to and have to play more of a counterattacking style against a team like this, which they did to a tee tonight. Anaheim swarmed the Lightning in waves the first 30 minutes of the game, but the Lightning were disciplined positionally and with their backcheck pressure and they ultimately got their goals on counters and the power play and blew this one wide open to make it a laugher. Anaheim played a ton of games in the past week, so by the time the Third Period came they were too out of gas to mount much resistance. Kudos to the Lightning for understanding the strategic situation and playing hard and sharp within its constraints.

Jonathan Marchessault had a power play goal, 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, and 4 hits in 11:40. Impressive game by him against a very big Anaheim team that was targeting him a bit. What impressed me the most about his goal is he actually drew the penalty it came on by frustrating a very good skating defenseman in Cam Fowler with his speed and tenacity.

Joel Vermin had a helper, his first NHL point, and was +1 with 1 hit in 12:22. Hustles and plays fairly smart positional hockey. His work on Kucherov's goal to start the Lightning snowball headed downhill toward success was critical.

Luke Witkowski had 4 penalty minutes, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 8:17. Had a wild night that included trying to fight half the Anaheim Ducks on the ice after one faceoff and a critical misplay of a bouncing puck that led to a 2-on-1 where Getzlaf struck the iron. He's surviving, somehow, but you can't make mistakes like that too often before you eventually get fitted for the goat horns.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11-19-15 Rangers at Lightning

The turning point of the season?


Ben Bishop allowed 1 goal on 21 shots for the win. He was sparkling. Sharp as a razor, including stopping a penalty shot by Kreider. He really did well to correct the 5-hole issues he had against Pirri in the last game in denying Kreider tonight.

First Period
14:47 TB Killorn (3), (Filppula)

Second Period

Third Period
13:43 NYR Moore (2), (unassisted)
18:55 TB Filppula (2), (Brown)(SH)

Bishop and Valtteri Filppula were the game's first and second stars.

The Lightning have been getting better in terms of their effort and energy level in recent games, but they've been getting zero payoff to this point with the ultimate indignity coming on the late goal in their 1-0 loss at Florida in the last game out. That futility coupled with the sudden rash of injuries that left 5 forwards out with injury for tonight's game and the fact the Rangers were going for their 10th consecutive win provided the recipe for a potential blood bath. And then something happened...

Tonight the Lightning played their most honest game of the season. Not their flashiest. Not their best. Their most honest. They hustled to loose pucks. They threw their bodies in front of shots. They took hits to make plays. The Rangers worked really hard, and this is no slight on New York's effort level. But, for maybe the first time this season, the Lightning simply wanted the 2 points more tonight by a clear and decisive margin. The old adage is that the harder you work the luckier you get, and that rang true tonight. Killorn's game opening goal was a heinous softie by Lundqvist and that ended up being the margin of victory. And, with under 2 minutes to go, with the Rangers in a position to potentially rob the Lightning of their payoff once again on a late PP, they got the vital turnover they needed for J.T. Brown to get free for a beautiful 2-on-1 setup to Filppula for the game winning goal. I thought the team was close to turning the corner 3 games ago in the OT home loss to the Panthers, where they played a chippy emotional game and just couldn't get the payoff at the finish line. Tonight they played an emotional game against one of last year's playoff foes and they got the payoff. The schedule is brutal coming up, but maybe this is the rocket fuel the team needed to start to get back on track. Sometimes when in a deep slump, it's not about tactics or any one lineup tweak. It's simply about playing with more emotion and energy and outworking your opponents.

Kudos to the callups from Syracuse to contributing to the night's victory. Honestly, maybe it was a blessing in disguise to have the Crunch's forwards up. People who haven't seen Syracuse the last couple of years might be surprised to know the speed/skill level in the Lightning's AHL pipeline isn't what it was in the Norfolk and early Syracuse days. They play a much different style in Syracuse right now than they do in Tampa Bay, and their offense comes from working hard and manufacturing goals the honest way. If some of that rubs off from the callups onto the Lightning's veterans up top, all the better. And if the Lightning's early season goal scoring troubles forces them to play a more responsible defensive style the rest of the year, which has always been a tough thing for Cooper to preach to such an offensively gifted group, maybe this tough going in the early season has been a blessing in disguise too. We'll see as the next few games unfold.

Jonathan Marchessault was -1 with 2 penalty minutes (for an undeserved diving call on a guy who weighs 5 pounds soaking wet), 3 shots, and 3 hits. These past couple of games have really been his best in a Lightning uniform so far. He needs to find the finish, though.

Joel Vermin had 1 shot and 1 hit in 10:14 in his NHL debut. He looked good. He has NHL skating ability and he was assertive and hustled well. Like Marchessault, he's slightly built, so the real challenge is fighting his way through the backwash in close quarters.

Luke Witkowski had 1 hit in 7:15. The man took some hellacious bumps and found himself in some defensive jams, but he hustled his way out of the holes he found himself in.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

Koekkoek, Witkowski Work Together in Return to Crunch

By Jeremy Houghtaling

After being two of the final cuts from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s training camp, Slater Koekkoek and Luke Witkowski are back together on the Crunch blueline.

The two defensemen, paired together for the Syracuse season opener in Lehigh Valley Saturday, have quickly renewed the chemistry that made them one of the team’s top defensive duos last season. Both are working at rounding out their games as they prepare to take the next, permanent step to the National Hockey League.

“They both had real good camps and Tampa was happy with both of them,” said Crunch head coach Rob Zettler. “There’s players up there that have established positions, and they have to understand that. But the other part is that they still need to work on some of the things in their game that they can get better at. They’re both very good hockey players and able to play in the NHL, but both can improve and keep getting better.”

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