A quick update for anyone interested in upcoming prospect graduations...
Karri Ramo needs just 6 more decisions to graduate from prospect status according to our site's criteria.
Matt Smaby needs just 11 more games this season to graduate.
Noah Welch needs just 13 more games this season to graduate.
The Lightning have exactly 13 games remaining on their schedule. Bolt Prospects will issue its Final Rankings for the 2008-2009 season following the conclusion of all prospects' playoff seasons, and with prospects like Dustin Tokarski, James Wright, and Luca Cunti possibly poised to make some deep runs, it may be a while. Expect significant changes at the top of the list, though, with two of the only four prospects ever to hold the #1 spot (Stamkos and Downie being the other two) on our rankings likely to graduate by year's end. And then there's the playoffs...
It should be fun.
A crushing blow in the Tavares/Hedman Derby.
Karri Ramo allowed just 1 goal on 21 shots for the win, playing both ends of the back-to-back. Getting 3 points out of 4 in a back-to-back situation is another big step for a guy trying to win a job in Tampa next season.
03:21 TOR Stempniak (13), (Blake, Schenn)
05:25 TB Pettinger (4), (Karsums)
17:19 TB St. Louis (25), (Stamkos, Malone)
14:35 TB Malone (24), (Murphy, Lecavalier)(PP)
17:54 TB Szczechura (3), (unassisted)
Noah Welch was +1 with 2 hits and 2 blocked shots in 16:40.
Matt Smaby had 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 22:42.
Paul Szczechura had 1 goal on 1 shot with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot in 14:55. He was also 4-for-4 on draws.
Martins Karsums had 1 assist and was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 14:30.
Richard Petiot was +1 with 1 shot, 6 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 15:31.
These prospect stat reports are getting as long as Smaby's arm.
So, this team has some pride after all? Or, at the very least, some fear of Rick Tocchet?
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 27 shots for the overtime loss. More good than bad. He made THE save all alone with an Ottawa shooter late in the third period to get the Lightning into the OT session, but he's still struggling with his rebound control, which cost the team the winning goal. I don't think anyone blamed him or McKenna for the debacle against McKenna, but it was definitely something worth monitoring going into this game. How would Ramo respond? And, he didn't respond badly.
02:37 TB Murphy (4), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)(PP)
04:53 OTT Shannon (4), (Spezza, Alfredsson)(PP)
09:25 OTT Kelly (9), (Alfredsson, Phillips)(SH)
09:38 TB Hall (5), (Artyukhin, Krajicek)(PP)
02:38 OTT Fisher (11), (Phillips, Volchenkov)
Noah Welch had 4 penalty minutes and 2 hits in 15:41. That's a far better number in terms of ice time for Welch to be getting.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:35.
Paul Szczechura had 1 shot and 4 hits in 11:40. He made some dumb plays coming through the neutral zone, which is uncustomary for such a smart player.
Martins Karsums had 1 shot, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 11:06. The guy is just less than the sum of his parts right now.
Richard Petiot had 2 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in 18:13. He looks a step slow for the NHL level, but he's fairly servicable positionally and he looks like he competes. He may be a good spare part to keep around as a #8 type guy down in the minors.
The worst 40 minutes of hockey in Lightning history.
Mike McKenna allowed 3 goals on 7 shots before being pulled for Karri Ramo. Ramo was then the beneficiary of some of the worst defense in the NHL and allowed 6 goals on 22 shots (and took the back door loss to boot) before being pulled at the end of the Second Period. McKenna stopped all 8 shots he faced the rest of the way. Honestly, there was only 1 questionable goal in the lot (by Ramo, on a shot that deflected off Stamkos' stick and through his five hole). Other than that, all of the other eight goals were quality goals that were either odd man rushes or terrible defensive zone breakdowns.
07:01 CAR Staal (29), (Brind'Amour)(SH)
09:40 CAR Staal (30), (Cole, Ruutu)
10:09 CAR Babchuk (9), (Pitkanen)
12:43 TB St. Louis (24), (Stamkos, Szczechura)
02:41 CAR Corvo (12), (Cole, Staal)
03:48 CAR Brind'Amour (9), (Samsonov (25), Cullen)(PP)
06:03 CAR Ruutu (18), (Samsonov, Corvo)(PP)
12:48 CAR Staal (31), (Larose, Ruutu)
16:45 CAR Staal (32), (Ruutu, Cole)
3:30 TB Lecavalier (28), (Malone, Prospal)
9:12 TB Malone (23), (Prospal, Lecavalier)
Here's an FYI to Len Barrie and Oren Koules: Lightning Nation is pissed off. They're more than a bit peeved by the fact that they have to watch a defense comprised of two cast offs who couldn't even get regular ice time for the Florida Panthers, a cast off who couldn't even get out of the minors for the Carolina Hurricanes, a goon who shouldn't even be playing defense in the NHL, Charminy soft Lukas Krajicek, and Matt Smaby, who is the one guy in the bunch who doesn't deserve to be shot, stuffed, and mounted on the wall at the Bear Mountain Resort. This defense is a disgrace, and it's patently obvious that the season is being tanked from the blueline out. When the lone silver lining is, "Oh, well we picked up two points on the Isles in the Tavares/Hedman derby," that's just not acceptable. Honest to goodness, if you're going to ice a corps that bad, why not just call up Vladimir Mihalik and Ty Wishart? I'd rather give minutes to the kids than a has-been and some never-will-bes.
Noah Welch was -2 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 2 blocked shots in an obscene 27:22 of ice time tonight. He and Cory Murphy's first period should be a warning to pregnant women of what happens if you drink while you're carrying your child. How does a guy who couldn't even get in the lineup for Florida end up here playing 27:22 two games later? I can't figure out if this movie is a comedy or a tragedy, boys and girls.
Smaby was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 16:49. I'm kind of surprised that his ice time was so low because he was very visible in the physical game. That said, even he made his fair share of mildly stupid plays tonight.
David Koci was -2 with 4 penalty minutes and 1 hit in 11:59. If David Koci is an NHL defenseman then I'm an international playboy.
Paul Szczechura had an assist and 2 penalty minutes with 3 shots, 3 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 11:30. I haven't really been impressed with Paul since he came back from his injury, but he showed flashes again tonight, especially in garbage time in the third period.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 1 shot and 1 blocked shot in 11:27. Chad made the point on the message boards that, athletically, he's reminiscent of Ruslan Fedotenko. That's true, but unlike Fedotenko, Karsums is terrible along the wall. I don't think it's lack of want to and he seems sturdy on his skates. He just seems clueless about his body position. Oh, and he made a nice fat turnover that ended up in the back of the net on Anton Babchuk's goal. From Latvia to Russia with love.
One point further away from Tavares or Hedman?
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 36 shots for the overtime loss. His rebound control needs work, but he was fairly sharp in this one.
05:43 STL Tkachuk (19), (Boyes, McDonald)
09:25 STL McDonald (10), (Backes, Boyes)(PP)
03:28 TB St. Louis (23), (Lecavalier, Stamkos)
06:10 STL Backes (19), (Oshie, McDonald)
12:10 TB Pettinger (3), (Halpern, Artyukhin)
19:44 TB Stamkos (14), (Murphy, St. Louis)
00:27 STL Boyes (26), (Colaiacovo, McDonald)
Noah Welch was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 23:06. He's servicable, if unspectacular.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 1 shot, 5 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 23:23. He took a skate to the cheek and hardly missed a shift. You can make a very strong case that he's been the team's best d-man over the last month.
David Koci had 1 hit in 6:52.
Martins Karsums was -1 with 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 10:59. You can see the attraction from the Lightning's end: he's a good skater with decent burst and feisty for an average sized player.
Brandon Segal had 2 shots and 3 hits in 12:50. He had some good moments tonight on the forecheck but shanked a rebound off a Karsums shot that should've been his first NHL goal.
Trade deadline tomorrow.
Karri Ramo allowed 3 goals on 33 shots for the lost. He made some solid saves, but struggled with his rebound control. Still, I think if he gives the Lightning more games like this (.900+ save percentage and no softies) they'll be pretty satisfied.
07:38 PIT Kunitz (18), (Kennedy)
12:23 TB Prospal (17), (Lecavalier, Malone)
16:44 PIT Kunitz (19), (Sykora, Malkin)(PP)
12:26 PIT Cooke (9), (Dupuis, Talbot)
Matt Smaby was +1 with 1 shot, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 22:33.
David Koci was -1 with 1 blocked shot in 6:43. Pittsburgh's third goal was on him.
Brandon Segal had 1 hit and 1 blocked shot in 14:45. First impressions: he didn't look completely out of place as far his skating goes. If he gets more decisive when he goes to the wall, I think he could do some business up top.
Paul Szczechura had 2 shots, 2 hits, and 1 blocked shot in 13:53.
Vancouver gets a bounce and the Lightning don't.
Karri Ramo allowed 2 goals on 25 shots for the loss. No complaints tonight. He made a handful of key saves to give the Lightning a chance in the third period, not the least of which was a huge save moving right to left on a 2-on-1 that became a partial break for one of the Sedins.
11:41 VAN Edler (7), (Kesler, Demitra)(PP)
14:36 TB Stamkos (12), (St. Louis, Recchi)
09:26 VAN Bernier (13), (Demitra, Johnson)
With 20 games left to go in the season, Steven Stamkos is suddenly en fuego despite not having a steady set of linemates. It's a very positive sign. I think people are going to be shocked how good Stamkos is going to be next season.
Matt Smaby had 2 penalty minutes, 2 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 22:57. Despite having one bad wheel, he's consistently making plays for this club. He's taking the body. He's breaking up plays with the stick. He's blocking shots at key times. He's playing around 22 minutes a night lately and he looks good doing it. That tells me this guy may have top-four potential after all.
David Koci played 7:33.
In case anyone is wondering, Smaby is 17 games away from graduating from prospect status by Bolt Prospects criteria. Ramo is now 11 decisions away from graduating by site criteria, as well. Both look achievable, and the top-5 of our rankings look destined for some major changes at year's end.
A soft goal was the difference.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 44 shots in the game. He had a respectable save percentage in the game, but he never looked completely comfortable to me and the soft goal he allowed to Jason Strudwick on a long point shot that he badly misplayed his angle on ended up being the difference. It's nothing that will get him demoted, but I would expect McKenna back in for the next game.
02:20 EDM Cole (15), (unassisted)
05:40 EDM Strudwick (2), (Gagner)
02:30 TB Murphy (2), (St. Louis, Recchi)(PP)
12:23 TB Stamkos (11), (Malone)
13:15 EDM Souray (16), (Cogliano)
02:20 EDM Cogliano (14), (Stortini, Moreau)
13:46 TBL Murphy (3), (Lecavalier, St. Louis)
19:58 EDM Souray (17), (Brodziak)(EN)
Marek Malik needs to be put down like Old Yeller. Man up, Brian Lawton. It's time. Erik Cole made Malik look like he was moving in reverse on the Oilers' first goal. Sad.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots in 21:59.
David Koci had 7 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 6:09.
The Lightning steal the win.
Karri Ramo stopped 40 of 43 shots for the win. He's not playing perfect hockey, but he is playing relaxed and making saves and keeping the Lightning in a position to compete. Tonight he won despite his club being outshot 43-18. His night in a nutshell: he gave up an awful rebound to Phil Kessel coming in off the wing with the game tied 3-3 and then made an athletic pad save in close to bail himself out. Flawless? No. But he's battling, and getting fair results.
Bobby Taylor has talked recently on the broadcasts how defensemen who come up to the NHL sometimes find it easier because the forwards are always in the proper position on the breakout. I wonder if Ramo is looking more relaxed partially because he worries less about the team in front of him being in the proper position and not overcompensating for odd man rushes or back door plays.
01:38 BOS Kessel (25), (Savard, Lucic)
04:44 TB Halpern (4), (Pettinger, Eminger)
04:59 TB Hall (4), (Craig, Artyukhin)
16:42 BOS Ference (1), (Savard, Wideman)(PP)
10:00 TB Recchi (13), (Melichar, Koci)
15:17 BOS Chara (14), (Kobasew, Ward)
18:27 TB Prospal (15), (Halpern, St. Louis)(PP)
It's nice to be able to take Jeff Halpern's picture off the milk carton, too.
Matt Smaby had 4 hits and 5 blocked shots in 22:06. I'll bet you, dollars to donuts, 75% of the GM's who talk to Brian Lawton next week ahead of the deadline will try to scam him out of #32, and that Lawton will tell them, "No thanks."
David Koci had his first NHL assist, was +1, and had 3 hits in 7:06. David Koci: The Secret Weapon.