Jones, Blair

NHL Game Night 2/23: Bruins at Lightning

Ambush.

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Marc Denis stopped just 5 of 7 shots faced before being lifted for Johan Holmqvist who was even more horrid allowing 4 goals on 16 shots faced. Dan Boyle and Filip Kuba had the Lightning goals. Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier and Eric Perrin recorded assists. Positives? Not many. Kuba getting back on the scoreboard after a prolonged drought is nice. Getting Blair Jones some development time in the third period after playing just 2 (albeit long) shifts last night in Atlanta is also nice. Jones had 1 shot in 10:13 of ice time tonight.

Ball this one up and throw it in the trash can. The Lightning really left it all on the ice last night in Atlanta and had little in the tank to deal with Boston, especially considering what a poor goaltending effort they got tonight. Boston was laying in wait in Tampa soaking up the sun. Rested and ready they pounced. That's just the way the situation unfolded. Certainly, it stinks to burn the team's game in hand on Atlanta this way, but I don't believe this is foreshadowing of things to come.

First Period
Boston 1:46, Marco Sturm 20 (Phil Kessel, Brandon Bochenski)
Tampa Bay 5:29, Dan Boyle 14 (power play) (Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier)
Boston 9:41, Brad Boyes 10 (Bobby Allen, Marc Savard)

Second Period
Boston 3:58, Brad Boyes 11 (Marc Savard, P.J. Axelsson)
Boston 12:41, Phil Kessel 8 (Brandon Bochenski, Marco Sturm)

Third Period
Boston 4:30, Brandon Bochenski 8 (power play) (Marc Savard, P.J. Axelsson)
Boston 9:31, Stanislav Chistov 5 (Zdeno Chara, Mark Mowers)
Tampa Bay 14:29, Filip Kuba 9 (Eric Perrin)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/9: Lightning at Rangers

After winning 7 straight on the road, I suppose they were due for a stinker.

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Johan Holmqvist allowed 4 goals on 16 shots before being pulled in the loss. It wasn't under the best of circumstances, obviously, but tonight was Holmqvist's 30th decision of the season which graduated him by site criteria. Holmqvist has been moved to the Bolt Prospects Alumni section on the Prospects page.

Kudos to Ryan Craig for defending Blair Jones after Ryan Hollweg decided to try to knee the rookie. Craig is a man. The Lightning fail to keep pace with Atlanta and are now 7 points behind Atlanta, but still hold a game in hand.

First Period
NY Rangers 4:28, Colton Orr 1 (Fedor Tyutin, Blair Betts)
NY Rangers 11:32, Marcel Hossa 4 (Michal Rozsival, Martin Straka)

Second Period
NY Rangers 8:28, Ryan Hollweg 1 (Jaromir Jagr)
NY Rangers 14:25, Sean Avery 11 (Michael Nylander, Brendan Shanahan)

Third Period
NY Rangers 3:32, Jaromir Jagr 21 (Martin Straka)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/6: Kings at Lightning

And now it's 5 points.

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Johan Holmqvist stopped 29 of 31 shots before stopping 1 of 2 shooters in the shootout for the win. King Holmer's perfection on a shot by shot basis goes by the board, but he still has yet to be bested by another goaltender in the penalty shot session. The Lightning's goals came from Vincent Lecavalier and Blair Jones, with Jones' goal being the first of his young NHL career. Ryan Craig, Brad Richards, Andre Roy and Tim Taylor had individual assists. The Lightning were a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout with goals from the big three: Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis.

Jones was +1 in 7:03 tonight with 1 shot, 1 hit and 2 takeaways. He was 1 for 2 on draws as well.

With the Lightning's win and Atlanta's shootout loss tonight the Lightning have moved to within 5 points of the division lead with a game in hand. The Lightning also have moved within 2 points of 4th place Montreal which lost to Carolina tonight.

First Period
Tampa Bay 2:23, Vincent Lecavalier 34 (power play) (Ryan Craig, Brad Richards)
Tampa Bay 4:18, Blair Jones 1 (Andre Roy, Tim Taylor)

Second Period
NO SCORING

Third Period
Los Angeles 1:13, Mike Weaver 1 (Derek Armstrong, Dustin Brown)
Los Angeles 7:41, Mike Weaver 2 (Brian Willsie, Anze Kopitar)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
Los Angeles- Kopitar
Tampa Bay- Lecavalier, Richards, St. Louis

Game sheet from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night 2/1: Lightning at Hurricanes

Holmer and the road warriors just smacked the champs in the mouth in their own barn. I like it.

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Johan Holmqvist pitches a 31 save shutout for the win. The shutout is the first of Johan's career and he improves his season record to 17-10-0. Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier continued on their MVP caliber tears through the NHL with 1 goal and 1 assist each. Vaclav Prospal added 2 assists of his own as well. The other Lightning goals came from Ryan Craig and Doug Janik. Eric Perrin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brad Richards added individual helpers.

The well oiled war machine that is the Lightning on the road extended their franchise record winning streak away from the SP Times Forum to 7 straight games. More importantly, the Lightning have caught the Carolina Hurricanes at 58 points with the Lightning still holding a game in hand. And, by virtue of Atlanta's 5-2 loss to the Islanders tonight the Lightning are now with single digits of the division leader at 8 points behind. The Lightning still hold a game in hand on Atlanta and, more importantly, have two more head-to-head games left on the schedule for a total of six potential points the Lightning can pick up quickly. I am reminded of 2002-2003 when the Lightning ran down the Washington Capitals from behind like a hungry lion runs down a misfortunate antelope.

If the Lightning can stay focused and remain hot for the next couple of weeks, then the spotlight should fall squarely on GM Jay Feaster. Feaster knows as we all do that the team is just a deal or two away from being a serious title contender. It will be incumbent on him to pull the trigger and hit the right targets to give this team the reinforcements they need. If he does, look out. Dare we use the pun, Lightning could strike twice?

Rookie Blair Jones had 5:39 of ice time tonight and was 40% on draws with 2 penalty minutes (and looked about 1,000,000% more comfortable than last time out).

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
Tampa Bay 15:12, Ryan Craig 12 (power play) (Martin St. Louis)
Tampa Bay 19:23, Doug Janik 2 (Eric Perrin, Vaclav Prospal)

Third Period
Tampa Bay 2:49, Vincent Lecavalier 32 (Ruslan Fedotenko, Vaclav Prospal)
Tampa Bay 9:29, Martin St. Louis 32 (power play) (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards)

Game sheet from NHL.com.

Keller to Return This Weekend

In an interview for the Springfield Falcons' website, FalconsAHL.com, Springfield Head Coach Steve Stirling has announced that forward Justin Keller will return this weekend after missing over a month with a high ankle sprain. Before his injury, Keller had been playing well on a line with fellow Lightning prospects Blair Jones and Marek Kvapil and the young left winger's return could offer a shot in the arm to the team's anemic offensive attack. In 29 game this season Keller has 9 goals and 17 points with 10 penalty minutes and a -7 rating.

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