Keller is also getting in line for a recall.
Riku Helenius stopped 24 of 26 shots for the win to even his record at 4-4-0 this season. He is now sitting on 1 shutout, a 2.18 GAA, and a .938 save percentage. What's the definition of a "good problem" to have? Karri Ramo and Mike McKenna acquitting themselves fairly well in the NHL while your young #1 starter is out injured, Helenius playing well in the AHL, and young Dustin Tokarski standing on his head in junior. That is a "good problem" to have.
BNG Mauldin, (12) (Regin, Hamel), 11:54
BNG Mauldin, (13) (Fata, Regin), 17:56
NOR Potulny, (8) (Brookbank, Jones), 1:27
NOR Jones, (11) (Lundin, Konopka), 14:44 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (21) (Keller, Konopka), 3:43
NOR Keller, (11) (Bochenski), 11:08
I find it fascinating that, despite spotting him a significant head start, Keller has caught Blair Jones in the goal department. Jones still has a mammoth lead on Keller in assists and a better points per game number, but that may be a little inflated with power play assists with Blair playing the point position so much. This may be another really good problem for the Lightning organization to have if Keller and Jones continue to hit the scoresheet and, along with Brandon Segal, continue to push for late season recalls.
For those who have been wondering, Vladimir Mihalik has been out with a nasty concussion.
Norfolk climbs back to 3 games under .500. I think the season would be considered a success, given the rocky beginnings, if the team could climb to a winning record. It could be the foundation of a return to the playoffs next season with the Admirals getting an injection of a little more speed and skill with guys like Dana Tyrell coming on board.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Close, but no cigar.
Karri Ramo allowed just 2 goals on 40 shots in regulation and overtime before surrendering goals to both shooters he faced for the shootout loss. One of his goals during regulation was pretty soft, but it's hard to complain about a .950 save percentage in the game. Unfortunately, the shootout has been really tough for Karri all season, and Patrik Elias absolutely de-jocked Ramo on the game winning shootout goal.
04:33 TB Malone (20), (St. Louis, Lecavalier)
12:55 TB Malone (21), (Lecavalier, Smaby)
02:16 NJ Clarkson (11), (Zubrus)(PP)
01:13 NJ Parise (35), (Zajac, Langenbrunner)(PP)
NJ- Parise, Elias
The effort level tonight from the whole team was much higher than in the Chicago game, and the club actually outpaced New Jersey 41-40 in shots tonight. Steve Eminger played 30:04? Holy cow!
Ty Wishart had 1 blocked shot in 9:05. He's been pretty invisible on this recall. That's good in some ways and not so good in others.
Steve Downie had 1 hit in 8:42.
Matt Smaby had 1 assist, 7 penalty minutes, and was +1 with 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:29. He's really coming into his own as an NHL player now.
It's a shame that no one but the young kids showed up.
Karri Ramo allowed 5 goals on 49 shots for the loss. The game could've be 8 or 9 to 3 without Ramo. The Lightning got outshot 19-3 in the first period and 15-7 in the third. That's just hanging your goaltender out to dry. The kid deserved better. He showed flashes of what he was prior to this season's disappointments.
11:53 CHI Keith (7), (Havlat, Seabrook)
12:58 TB Stamkos (8), (Melichar, Krajicek)
10:28 TB Stamkos (9), (Prospal, Roberts)(PP)
11:38 TB Stamkos (10), (Eminger, Prospal)(PP)
19:12 CHI Toews (19), (Kane, Barker)(PP)
01:46 CHI Kane (18), (Campbell, Toews)(PP)
12:46 CHI Bolland (13), (Havlat, Keith)
15:59 CHI Toews (20), (Brouwer, Kane)
The team completely laid down after Stamkos' hat trick. It was bizarre, and sickening. I give him a lot of credit for playing hard to the final horn to break up a potential empty net goal. I wish some of the veterans on the team showed that much pride.
Ty Wishart had 1 shot in 8:02.
Steve Downie had 17 penalty minutes, 1 shot, and 1 hit in 6:28.
Matt Smaby was -1 with 6 hits and 4 blocked shots in 22:00, which was a high among the defensemen.
At least Ramo got some work.
05:02 WSH Semin (21), (Backstrom)
13:21 WSH Ovechkin (38), (Semin, Backstrom)
19:20 WSHS Morrisonn (2), (Steckel, Gordon)
05:33 WSH Green (22), (Semin)(PP)
09:30 TB Malone (19), (Lecavalier)
13:31 WSH Fehr (8), (Fleischmann)
Two AHL goaltenders and both your best d-men on the shelf is not the way you want to face this Caps team. The Lightning actually had their chances to make a game of it, but Washington's stars finished their chances. The Lightning's did not.
Steve Downie was -1 with 1 shot, hits, and 1 blocked shot in 12:49.
Matt Smaby was -3 with 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:12.
David Koci had 2 shots in 8:43.
Wow. Atta boy, Riku!
Riku Helenius pitches a 41 save shutout in his first career AHL start. A star is born?
NOR Bochenski, (17) (Konopka, Keller), 11:31
NOR Bochenski, (18) (Smolenak, Lundin), 4:43
NOR Segal, (13) (Smolenak, Gratton), 15:38
Wow. This is where Karri Ramo needs to start feeling the heat coming up his back. Everyone's known for the past 2-1/2 years that Helenius is athletically capable, and the bizarre reshuffling and suspension situation has given Helenius an opportunity to finally get in between the pipes. And, damn-it-all if he hasn't seized the opportunity by the throat in his first start. Wow.
Don't look now, but Vladimir Mihalik just got back to even for the season with a +3 night tonight. His play has picked up since the embarassment of the San Jose Sharks game.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
06:27 NYI Hunter (13), (Nielsen, Okposo)(PP)
08:29 NYI Streit (9), (Weight, Comrie)
09:52 NYI Martinek (1), (Park, Witt)
03:05 TB Lecavalier (23), (Recchi, Murphy)(PP)
I think you now readjust your goals for the season to trying to finish with a winning record, but playoffs is likely out of the question. There will be a lot of folks trying to lay tonight's loss at the feet of Karri Ramo, and he did allow two soft goals, but the Lightning only scored 1 goal on an AHL caliber club with Yann Danis in net. That's absolutely unacceptable.
Steve Downie had 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 7:44. He doesn't play enough, in my opinion.
Matt Smaby had 4 shots and 2 blocked shots in 10:38. He, also, probably doesn't play enough minutes. He absolutely destroyed Blake Comeau and drew a penalty in the process behind the net in the first period tonight.
As the Super Bowl party leaves Tampa Bay on Monday, the goaltending situation for the Bolts is almost as suspenseful as last night's 4th quarter. Both the Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times are reporting that the Tampa Bay Lightning have (unofficially) signed Norfolk Admirals netminder Mike McKenna to an NHL contract in the aftermath of successful biceps tendon surgery to Olaf Kolzig on Saturday. Kolzig is expected to miss the remainder of the season rehabbing his repaired left arm. During the intermission of Friday night's game against Philadelphia, Lightning GM Brian Lawton hinted that McKenna was one of the alternatives being considered for the backup role to Mike Smith for the balance of the season. McKenna practiced with the team Monday morning ahead of flying out with the team to Long Island for Tuesday night's tilt against the struggling Islanders.
McKenna's signing triggered the reassignment of prospect goaltender Riku Helenius to Norfolk, presumably to start the remaining four games of fellow prospect goalie Karri Ramo's suspension. Ramo is currently serving a six game AHL suspension for leaving the bench during a late game on-ice altercation last week. In the interim, Admirals signed goaltender Tyler Sims to a PTO late last week to serve as the team's backup goaltender while Ramo serves out his suspension.
However, in surprising turn of events, both Tampa papers broke the news today that Mike Smith would not make the trip to New York with the team, citing an upper body injury to the Lightning's No.1 goalie, along with news that Ramo was being recalled from Norfolk on an emergency basis. It is unlikely that the recall will delay the completion of Ramo's suspension as the Admirals do not play again until Friday, and there's been no definitive word on whether McKenna or Ramo will start against the Islanders. Lawton, in a quote from the St. Pete Times, indicated that Smith's injury is fairly minor and he may join the team Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
As had been widely reported in the local Tampa media, Lightning Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced today that prospect goaltender Karri Ramo has been returned to the Norfolk Admirals to begin serving his six-game AHL suspension resulting from an altercation last Friday night's game in which Ramo left the bench during an on-ice brawl. With Olaf Kolzig on IR pending season-ending biceps tendon surgery, prospect netminder Riku Helenius has been subsequently recalled from Norfolk to backup Mike Smith.
Shortly after the final horn of Norfolk's 3-2 loss to Lake Erie, the Pilot states, Ramo came on to get a piece of Monsters goalie Tyler Weiman, who along with teammate Tom Fritsche, was battling Norfolk's Steve Downie. Fritsche got into it after leaving the Lake Erie bench and also drew a six-game suspension.
Fritsche was assessed a game misconduct for his actions, but Ramo was not penalized.
It is unclear when Ramo will begin serving the suspension as he was recalled to Tampa earlier this week. The Admirals recalled Riku Helenius from ECHL Mississippi to replace Ramo.
According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, the Lightning are expected to send Ramo down to Norfolk for the next few weeks in order to serve his suspension and, in the meantime, Riku Helenius will be recalled to serve as Mike Smith's backup with the Lightning.
Of course, that leaves the question of who Norfolk will get to backup Mike McKenna?
In a series of back-to-back promotions with the Lightning system, Tampa Bay Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Lawton announced on Monday that the Bolts have recalled prospect forward Steve Downie from the Norfolk Admirals. In addition, the Lightning announced that they also recalled prospect goaltender Karri Ramo from the Admirals to Tampa on an emergency basis.
Downie's recall was expected, with the Lightning indicating last week that he would be recalled after the NHL All-Star break -- a move that would prevent him from participating in the AHL All-Star game Monday night. However, Ramo's emergency recall was a bit of a surprise, as the St. Pete Times reported on Monday that Tampa veteran netminder Olaf Kolzig suffered a setback during the All-Star break with respect to his injured left arm, and was placed back on IR.
With Ramo recalled to Tampa, the Lightning announced on Tuesday that prospect goaltender Riku Helenius has been reassigned from Mississippi (ECHL) to Norfolk to back up Admirals goalie Mike McKenna. Helenius was assigned to the Gulf Coast last Friday, backing up Sea Wolves and former Bolt prospect goaltender Ryan Munce in two weekend games but seeing no game action.