Fun game to watch if you're an Ads fan.
Mike McKenna stopped all 24 shots he faced for the shutout victory.
NOR Smolenak, (10) (Konopka, Jones), 13:50 (PP)
NOR Wishart, (1) , 16:54
NOR Smolenak, (11) (Gratton, Lawrence), 2:44
NOR Downie, (3) , 3:26
NOR Mihalik, (2) (Downie, Gratton), 8:56 (PP)
I thought the Admirals best two players were probably Steve Downie and Chris Gratton in the game. Gratton looks like a man among boys at this level. Smolenak was in the right place at the right time for a power play goal after a puck bounced off an Albany defender and then on a nice setup by Gratton with Smolenak crossing the top of the crease. I didn't see Gratton out the second half of the third period. Hopefully that was to let the old man kick back and relax as opposed to an injury.
Downie's goal came after he pickpocketed a River Rats defender and then blistered a shot off the wing high glove side. If I have a criticism of Downie's game, it's that he doesn't shoot enough. That said, he's too good for the AHL level. He needs to be in the NHL soon.
Wishart got his first pro goal on a little harmless looking snap shot that skimmed off an Albany defender on the way in and found the back of the net. Not the most artistic goal, but he'll take it. Vladimir Mihalik found a rebound in the high slot and pounded a slap shot five hole on Justin Peters for his tally. Soft goal by Peters, in my opinion. In both defensemen's cases, beggars can't be choosers and I'm sure they're glad just to light the lamp.
Kevin Quick is starting to get back on schedule developmentally. He still makes mistakes (darned near cost McKenna his shutout on one shift in the third) but he's starting to look like a real AHLer, and when he gets it cranked up on the rush you can squint and see a bit of the puck carrying d-man the Lightning organization always thought he could become.
Jay Rosehill is becoming a Grade A badass. I remember when he was a lost little lamb playing for Johnstown in the Coast. He was a manimal dropping the gloves tonight. He beat Mike Angelidis like Angelidis owed him money tonight.
Don't read too much into this game, mind you. Albany is a thin team that was playing without one of their best players and all of a sudden the Admirals are laiden with NHLers and prospects who were recently up and proved their close to being NHLers. This was not a fair fight. Tomorrow night against Philly will be a truer test on just how far this configuration of the Ads can go. Still too many neutral zone turnovers by the forwards and the young d wasn't really tested under fire much considering how non-existent Albany's forecheck was tonight.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
It was an inexplicably passive third period.
Karri Ramo allowed 4 goals on 29 shots for the loss.
WBS Thomas, (2) (Letestu, Richmond), 16:12 (PP)
NOR Boyle, (2) (Simek, Kearns), 19:39
WBS James, (7) (Jeffrey), 12:59 (SH)
NOR Jones, (4) (Konopka, Bochenski), 19:16 (PP)
WBS James, (8) (Lovejoy, Caputi), 10:57
WBS Taffe, (12) (Caputi, Wallace), 16:35
NOR Bochenski, (8) (Konopka, Potulny), 19:31
Brandon Bochenski was named the game's second star.
I'm absolutely flabbergasted. Norfolk played 40 minutes of very solid hockey only to come out flat as a pancake in the final period to take the loss. It's a tough one to take. Maybe it was expecting too much considering the team had 4 players called up, but they played so well in the first couple of periods its shocking how badly they got rolled in the third.
Blair Jones extended his point streak to 4 games with a power play goal. Jones, a righty shot, is once again being used on the point on the power play as he has been from time to time in his professional career, and the Admirals seem to be running a lot of their PP set pieces through Jones and his ever improving point shot. His goal tonight came with Vladimir Mihalik being used in front of the net as a king-sized screen.
Norfolk squares off with the Penguins again tomorrow night.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
A wild west (Massachusetts) shootout.
Mike McKenna allowed 7 goals on 33 shots, including a super soft game winning goal, for the loss. He was every bit as terrible as his stat line suggests. McKenna has allowed 4 or more goals in 3 of his 4 starts this season. Now, it doesn't help that the Admirals' defense has been horrible. However, if this keeps up, you wonder if the Lightning organization will give the green light to take a peek at Riku Helenius.
SPR Brule, (6) (Bina), 8:54 (PP)
SPR Corazzini, (2) (Brule), 8:59 (PP)
SPR Peckham, (3) (Potulny, Schremp), 13:07
NOR Segal, (8) (Szczechura, Smolenak), 18:00 (PP)
NOR Bochenski, (5) (Smith, Heward), 1:42 (PP)
SPR Bekar, (4) (Bisaillon, Spurgeon), 3:35
NOR Heward, (5) (Smith, Hutchinson), 6:44 (PP)
SPR Lerg, (2) (Schremp, Potulny), 8:38
NOR Konopka, (6) (Heward, Jones), 12:11 (PP)
NOR Kearns, (4) (Boyle, Jones), 14:23 (PP)
NOR Szczechura, (10) (Boyle, Hutchinson), 5:39
SPR Peckham, (4) (Potulny, Bisaillon), 8:38 (PP)
SPR Spurgeon, (1) (Lefebvre), 12:50
If Jamie Heward decides to jet to Europe, I'm telling you, this Admirals team is so in trouble. He was named the game's third star.
Vladimir Mihalik was benched midway through the second period for poor decision making with the puck.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
The St. Pete Times is reporting is reporting that prospect defenseman Vladimir Mihalik has been reassigned to the Norfolk Admirals. Mihalik was a training camp surprise, making the season opening Tampa roster ahead of several other blueliners including Andrew Hutchinson and Matt Smaby. Mihalik received praise from Lightning head coach Barry Melrose in his NHL debuts in Prague.
Mihalik's reassignment comes amid speculation that the Bolts might be interested in claiming Calgary Flames veteran defenseman Rhett Warrener off of waivers or signing free agent defensmen Bryan Berard, as the Lightning traded blueliner Shane O'Brien to Vancouver for Lukas Krajicek earlier today. Lightning defenseman Paul Ranger, listed as a non-roster player prior to the opener, might be ready to return to action as he continues to re-hab his off-season surgically repaired shoulder.
Olaf Kolzig played well stopping 37 of 39 shots in the loss. He also deserved better.
03:47 NYR Wade Redden, (Markus Naslund, Scott Gomez)(PP)
12:12 NYR Scott Gomez, (Aaron Voros, Wade Redden)
Don't be fooled by the score. The Lightning were never really in this game until a late surge when they tried to get the equalizer to steal at least a point. The Lightning were outshot 39-19 in the game and, generally, outplayed in every facet. For all the weapons that the club has, they showed absolutely no structure this weekend. The team may be very fortunate that they play so few games in the opening month of the season, because right now they look light years away from being able to be a competitive team, let alone a winning team.
Janne Niskala had 4 hits in 14:14.
Vladimir Mihalik was -1 in 12:15 with 2 hits. He was caught on Gomez's goal standing around and not tying up the man in front.
Steven Stamkos had 1 shot and 2 hits in 14:53 and he was 75% on draws. On the good side, he rang a post that almost tied the game up in the second period. On the bad side, he took a lazy hooking penalty late that killed the Lightning's rally. All that said, he got nearly 15 minutes tonight, and that's the kind of ice time he needs from Coach Melrose.
Roster moves will no doubt be coming tomorrow. At a minimum, the club will have to send Karri Ramo down to Norfolk now that the roster limit reduces to 23. There will also probably be at least one move made on defense when Paul Ranger returns to the lineup. The obvious move would be to send Mihalik down to Norfolk. However, I could imagine Jamie Heward being the odd man out as well. Also, expect some pressure to bring Matt Smaby back up sooner or later. Initial reports out of Norfolk camp are good for Smaby, and you can make a strong argument he never should have been sent down in the first place. Adding spice to the situation are rumors that the club may move Shane O'Brien, who was a healthy scratch in this afternoon's game.