Mike Smith played pretty well stopping 39 of 41 shots faced in the game. He deserved better.
18:08 NYR Markus Naslund, (Scott Gomez)
The Lightning appear to me to be a team that is still looking for its new identity. Whether you loved or hated John Tortorella and his system, you knew the Lightning were going to have structure moving out of their zone and you knew that they were going to be disciplined. Tonight the team had no structure moving out of their zone, and because they spent so much time in their own end they took a ton of penalties. The young Lightning defense clutched to chipping the puck up off the boards rather than looking for an outlet pass and getting some speed moving through the neutral zone. That's a problem. They need to show more poise and confidence quickly if the Lightning are going to be successful.
Janne Niskala had 1 shot and 2 blocked shots in 16:13. I'd rate his performance as fair.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 shot and 3 hits in 11:54 in his NHL debut. He beat my expectations. Good job Vladdy.
Steven Stamkos was -1 with 2 shots and 2 hits in 8:25. He was also 50% on draws. He was stopped on a key breakaway in the Third Period that would've given the Lightning the lead. In my opinion, he needs to be up around at least 15 minutes a night and soon for the Lightning's offense to be as potent as it needs to be.
Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times reports that behemoth Bolts prospect defenseman Vladimir Mihalik has not only earned a roster with the Tampa Bay Lightning but is assured of playing in the team's 2008-09 season opener against the New York Rangers on October 4th in Prague. At 6.08 and 241 lbs, the young Slovakian blueliner has drawn comparisons to Boston's Zdeno Chara.
Coming into training camp, BoltProspects had tagged Mihalik as a darkhorse candidate to win a roster spot, but with Matt Smaby and newcomers like Janne Niskala, Andrew Hutchinson, and Ty Wishart slotted ahead of him in the depth chart, chances were slim that he would be starting the season in Bolts sweater.
Dana Tyrell was also returned to Prince George of the WHL.
Good start to the season for Mike Smith.
Mike Smith stopped 38 of 40 shots faced for the win.
Tampa Bay 7:01, Steven Stamkos 1 (power play) (Radim Vrbata, Ryan Malone)
Tampa Bay 10:00, Martin St. Louis 1 (power play) (Matt Carle, Jussi Jokinen)
NY Rangers 19:36, Daniel Girardi 1 (power play) (Scott Gomez, Wade Redden)
NY Rangers 17:07, Fredrik Sjostrom 1 (power play) (Pierre Parenteau, Lauri Korpikoski)
This was much closer to the opening night lineup, so there were fewer prospects in uniform:
Janne Niskala was +1 with 1 shot, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 19:23.
Vladimir Mihalik had 1 blocked shot in 16:04.
Steven Stamkos had 1 goal, 1 shot, 3 hits, and was 67% on draws to go with a +1 rating in 14:46.
Norfolk defeats Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh 0:51, Jordan Staal 1 (Evgeni Malkin, Ben Lovejoy)
Tampa Bay 3:50, Janne Niskala 1 (Brandon Bochenski, Jussi Jokinen)
Tampa Bay 7:06, Wyatt Smith 1 (Matt Smaby)
Tampa Bay 8:40, Brandon Bochenski 1 (Radek Smolenak, Jussi Jokinen)
Pittsburgh 15:18, Petr Sykora 1 (power play) (Miroslav Satan, Jordan Staal)
Pittsburgh 10:11, Petr Sykora 2 (power play) (Janne Pesonen, Alex Goligoski)
Pittsburgh 17:06, Sidney Crosby 1 (shorthanded) (unassisted)
Tampa Bay 18:41, Brandon Bochenski 2 (Janne Niskala)
Tampa Bay- Jokinen, Stamkos
Karri Ramo stopped 26 of 30 shots in regulation and overtime before stopping both shooters he faced in the penalty shot session.
This is as significant a win as you can get in the first matchup of preseason in September. The Lightning iced a team that basically represented the bulk of their players ticketed for Norfolk of the AHL while the Pens essentially iced their NHL regulars. This is a Pens team that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season and the Lightning prospects and AHL pros gave them all they could handle and more en route to victory. It speaks volumes for the future of this franchise.
Lots of prospects in this game:
Unfortunately, injuries on the backline may finally be catching up to Norfolk.
Marc Denis allowed 5 goals on 23 shots for the loss before being pulled for Jonathan Boutin who stopped all 4 shots he faced.
POR Bouck, (7) (St. Jacques, Ebbett), 5:35 (PP)
NOR Henrich, (14) (Keller, Wanvig), 17:11
POR King, (26) (Bouck, Festerling), 12:58
POR Birner, (7) (Ferguson), 13:38
NOR Wanvig, (20) (Henrich, Mihalik), 14:44
POR St. Jacques, (7) (Miller, Bootland), 1:14
POR Bouck, (8) (Ebbett, Ferguson), 7:05
NOR Keller, (12) (Jones, Lawrence), 17:45
Keller now has 12 goals and 33 points in 60 games with a +5 rating. A season ago in Springfield, Keller played exactly 60 games but only managed 24 points and had a -11 rating. The improvement is obvious.
Prior to this season Henrich had just 13 goals and 38 points in his entire AHL career of three seasons and 102 games. This season Henrich already has 14 goals and 31 points in 40 games, and there is still a chance he will double his career statistical output by the end of the year. Again, the improvement is obvious.
A year ago, as a rookie, Blair Jones had 5 goals and 21 points in 45 games (.467 PPG). This season, Blair Jones has 13 goals and 35 points in 63 games (.556 PPG). Again, the improvement is obvious.
A season ago, as a rookie, Radek Smolenak had just 1 point in 20 games. This season, the big winger has 11 goals and 21 points in 45 games. Again, the improvement is obvious.
Coupled with a strong rookie campaign by Vladimir Mihalik (now a team leading +9 among defensemen), the organization is looking less and less like the disaster the local and national media was making it out to be just a month or two ago. In fact, I dare say, it's difficult to claim that there isn't progress being made in Norfolk, even with the defeat tonight.
Eventually, some of that progress will find its way onto NHL ice.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Home sweet home.
Marc Denis stopped 42 of 44 shots faced for the win, and is playing really well of late.
NOR Segal, (6) (Kearns, Smolenak), 6:17
NOR Henrich, (11) (Wanvig, Keller), 13:11 (PP)
NOR Jones, (13) , 4:37
PHI Matsumoto, (17) (Laliberte, Gauthier), 8:23 (PP)
NOR Smolenak, (10) (Jones, Scalzo), 3:18 (PP)
PHI Laliberte, (3) (Matsumoto, Powe), 14:34
Tonight was the Ads' first game back at The Scope after the annual marathon known as the circus road trip. The road trip was modestly successful, considering the team lost 2/3 of its top line to a call up and an injury. Still, there's no doubt that the Admirals are a much better team at home and the team put a really good first period together tonight to jump out to a 2-0 lead and Denis helped make it stick. Denis pulled his save percentage for the AHL season up above .900 tonight, which is a welcome sign.
A night like tonight also gives you a lot of hope that the youngsters on this team are starting to get it. Jones and Smolenak each chipped in 1 goal and 1 assist, Adam Henrich potted a goal, and Justin Keller added a helper. With Junior Lessard in Tampa and Paul Szczechura on the shelf injured it would be easy for the Ads to pack it in right now. But, the kids are stepping up a little here and taking more reponsibility on their shoulders. Good.
Don't look now, but Vladimir Mihalik is sitting on a +7 rating, which is somewhat phenomenal for a guy who plays 20 minutes a night on a team that's 11 games under .500 and has been outscored by 38 goals this season. This young man is going to be a beast in two or three years.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Maybe the game that gets Marc Denis back to the NHL?
Marc Denis stopped a preposterous 48 of 50 shots faced for the victory.
NOR Milley, (15) (Jones, Schneider), 7:25
NOR Rosehill, (2) (Mihalik, Milley), 12:22
WOR Setoguchi, (5) (Kaspar, Raduns), 16:49 (PP)
WOR Setoguchi, (6) (Traverse, Cavanagh), 17:39 (SH)
NOR Szczechura, (12) (Wanvig, Smolenak), 6:18
NOR Wanvig, (17) (Milley, Jones), 19:39 (EN)
Denis was named first star of the game while Norm Milley earned third star of the game honors. There are rumors the Lightning may put Denis through re-entry waivers in the next week or two in the hope another team will take him. And effort like tonight coupled with a great relief appearance last night will go a long way toward making that happen.
Don't look now but Vladimir Mihalik, favorite target of the Norfolk fan base, improved his +/- to even on the season with a +3 night and had an assist.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Marc Denis definitely not Norfolk's savior.
Marc Denis allowed 6 goals on 26 shots for the loss in his Norfolk debut. He did manage to stop a Connor James penalty shot in the second period.
WBS Brent, (6) (McLean, Goligoski), 4:38
WBS Minard, (12) (Goligoski, Brent), 17:06
WBS Smith, (10) (Goligoski, James), 4:21
NOR Milley, (9) (Kearns), 9:41
WBS James, (7) (Ardelan), 16:34
NOR Klinkhammer, (4) (Smolenak, Mihalik), 3:31
NOR Jancevski, (3) (Smolenak), 4:35 (PP)
WBS Minard, (13) (McLean, Brent), 8:45 (PP)
WBS Filewich, (6) (Goligoski), 16:42
Box score from TheAHL.com.