Jones, Blair

AHL Game Night: 2/5/11 Senators at Admirals

More late third period horrors in Norfolk.

BNG-3
NOR-2

Dustin Tokarski allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the loss.

First Period
BNG Smith, (6) (Benoit, Locke), 18:53 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Jones, (15) (Harju), 12:35

Third Period
BNG Smith, (7) (Greening, Locke), 1:01
NOR Labrie, (5) (Angelidis, Berry), 1:55
BNG Wick, (9) (O'Brien, Schira), 19:47

Pierre-Cedric Labrie was the game's third star.

For the second game in a row, Norfolk gives up a late third period goal to the Senators. Last night it allowed Binghamton to steal a point before falling in overtime. Tonight, it took at least a point away from the Admirals in the form of a regulation loss. Norfolk's a rather pitiful 3-5-1-1 in their last 10 games and are fading in the chase for second place in the division. That's bad news, because they now look destined to have to face either Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or Hershey with the Pens and Bears holding home ice, which looks to be a recipe for a quick playoff exit. With 29 games left to go in the regular season, it's time for the Admirals to start to get serious.

For his part, Blair Jones extended his scoring streak to 5 games, while Johan Harju extended his to 4.

Marc-Andre Bergeron did not play tonight as he has been recalled by the Lightning with ex-Admiral Mike Lundin ailing from a groin injury. In his place, the Lightning have gone ahead and completed the assignment of netminder Mike Smith to the Admirals.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 2/3/11 Admirals at Checkers

Admirals come back to steal a point in a wild goal-fest.

NOR-6
CHA-7 (OT)

Jaroslav Janus allowed 7 goals on 29 shots for the loss in his first AHL start of the season. I miss the pre-knee injury Janus from last season.

First Period
CHA Micflikier, (20) , 3:50
CHA Terry, (19) (Matsumoto), 4:05
NOR Jones, (14) (Wright, Bergeron), 8:01 (PP)
NOR Fornataro, (15) (Barberio, Giliati), 13:18
CHA Nash, (11) (Rodney, Samson), 18:18 (PP)

Second Period
NOR Harju, (17) (Roy, Wright), 4:51
CHA Dalpe, (15) (Terry), 8:08
NOR Gudas, (4) (Berry, Barberio), 14:00
CHA Matsumoto, (13) , 17:14 (SH)

Third Period
CHA Matsumoto, (14) (Jordan), 8:59
NOR Berry, (12) (Pouliot), 11:53 (PP)
NOR Pouliot, (13) (Fornataro, Harju), 17:27

Overtime
CHA Samson, (24) , 1:11

Alex Berry was the game's third star.

Norfolk had to work in Janus somewhere over this back-to-back-to-back games set, and the results were going to be unpredictable. Unfortunately, giving up 7 goals, the worst case scenario occured. I suspect Tic will be back in against Binghamton tomorrow and on Saturday.

I am heartened to see Johan Harju follow up his assist in the East's 11-8 All-Star victory on Monday night with a multi-point night in Charlotte. Big Joe hadn't had a multi-point game since November, although in fairness some of that time he was up with Tampa. I, personally, feel that it's important for Tampa Bay to keep Harju and other guys like Blair Jones rolling in Norfolk, because they'll provide depth in the case of injuries come playoff time.

Norfolk desperately needs to take these upcoming games against fifth place Binghamton, or they could really play themselves into some trouble. Right now Norfolk is in third place in the East, tied at 59 points with Charlotte with a game in hand. But, Bingo lurks 6 points back. If they were to sweep, Norfolk would find it in some deep trouble. A Norfolk sweep this weekend could really help put the Sens away. It's a crossroads of the season.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Day: 1/16/11 Admirals at Checkers

The Admirals continue to feel at home on the road.

NOR-4
CHA-2

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 23 shots before leaving the game with an injury. Dustin Tokarski stopped all 12 shots he faced in relief to take the victory. Tokarski entered the weekend with a slumping 0-6-0-1 mark in his last 7 appearances, but was 2-0-0-0 in his two appearances this weekend, and raised his season save percentage back up to .901. If Desjardins is anything more than just nicked, it'll be important for Tokarski to step up in the coming days.

First Period
CHA Sutter, (6) (Osala), 0:12
NOR Fornataro, (11) (Milam, Gudas), 16:06

Second Period
CHA Carson, (1) (Rodney, Dalpe), 2:34 (PP)
NOR Jones, (11) (Szczechura), 4:41
NOR Gudas, (2) (Wright, Vernace), 15:21 (PP)

Third Period
NOR Jones, (12) (Vernace, Durno), 18:58 (EN)

Radko Gudas and Blair Jones were the game's first and third stars.

With 31 points in 29 games, Blair Jones just eclipsed his season output of 30 points in 63 games last season. His career high was 54 points in 80 games in 2008-2009, when he spent a significant amount of time anchoring the left point on the power play for the Admirals.

Norfolk moved 2 points ahead of Charlotte to claim a clear hold on second place in the East Division with the win. Their .652 road winning percentage in 4th in the league behind Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Peoria, and Hershey.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1/14/11 Sound Tigers at Admirals

Admirals power play does its part to right the ship.

BRI-2
NOR-5

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 2 goals on 28 shots for the win.

First Period
NOR Jones, (10) (Szczechura, Wright), 3:03
BRI Motherwell, (2) (Svendsen), 15:45

Second Period
NOR Szczechura, (10) (Jones, Bergeron), 6:41 (PP)
BRI Haley, (11) (Figren, Katic), 9:14 (PP)
NOR Angelidis, (13) (Harju, Pouliot), 17:07 (PP)

Third Period
NOR Szczechura, (11) (Milam, Jones), 14:05 (PP)
NOR Marks, (3) (Milam, Durno), 17:41

Paul Szczechura, Blair Jones, and Troy Milam were the game's three stars.

Norfolk's power play was 3-for-4 on the night, and that's your hockey game, right there. Norfolk's win temporarily puts them back in a tie for second place in the division with Charlotte, with the Checkers tied 5-5 with Manchester late in the third period. Norfolk will hold 3 games in hand on Charlotte at the end of the night, regardless of the outcome. Hershey lurks three points back with two games in hand, and are up 2-0 late in the third against Adirondack.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 1/7/11 Whale at Admirals

Resisting the cheap "Admirals Harpoon Whale" opening...

CT-2
NOR-5

Cedrick Desjardins stopped 24 of 26 shots to improve to 13-5-1 this season.

First Period
NOR Harju, (15) (Pouliot, Durno), 0:17
CT Dupont, (6) (Tessier), 8:45

Second Period
NOR Wright, (11) (Fornataro, Szczechura), 10:06
CT Williams, (2) (White, Nightingale), 15:00

Third Period
NOR Vernace, (6) (Jones), 11:22
NOR Angelidis, (12) (Jones, Berry), 11:45
NOR Durno, (11) (Pouliot, Quick), 12:30

Blair Jones, Chris Durno, and Michael Vernace were the game's three stars.

Johan Harju broke a 4 game pointless skid and a 6 game goalless skid. Radko Gudas improved to +16 for the season with a +3 effort. He's tied with Chris Durno and now one plus behind AHL leader Mike Angelidis of the Ads. That's right, three of the four league leaders in plus-minus are Norfolk Admirals.

Incidentally, rebranding your team in the middle of the season is odd. The Whale was the Hartford Wolf Pack a few months ago, if you were wondering.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

AHL Game Night: 12/11/10 Admirals at Penguins

The Admirals get as big a win as you can get in early December.

NOR-7
WBS-4

Cedrick Desjardins allowed 4 goals on 33 shots for the big, big win.

First Period
NOR Fornataro, (9) (Wright, Milam), 5:20 (PP)

Second Period
WBS Tangradi, (9) (Potter, Wagner), 9:11
NOR Szczechura, (9) (Quick, Wright), 11:55
NOR Barberio, (1) (Jones, Berry), 12:45
NOR Milam, (5) (Wishart, Jones), 14:55

Third Period
WBS Tangradi, (10) (Potter, Lerg), 2:41
WBS Veilleux, (2) (Johnson, Craig), 5:20
WBS Haddad, (1) (Potter, Wagner), 7:46
NOR Gudas, (1) (Barberio, Szczechura), 13:26
NOR Nelson, (5) , 19:01 (EN)
NOR Milam, (6) (Quick, Nelson), 19:59 (PP)

Radko Gudas and Troy Milam were the game's first and third stars. For Gudas, his goal was the game winner and his first as a professional. He was also +2 in the contest, which ties him for first in the AHL at +16. Mark Barberio also scored his first goal as a professional and added a helper. He's now, quietly, amassed 1 goal and 10 points in 21 games. It's going to be interesting to watch these two young blueliners grow up together.

New addition Levi Nelson scored his first goal in an Admirals jersey and also added an assist in the contest.

The last minute of the game was marred by the kind of nastiness that you only get between two teams that now realize that this season is going to be heavyweight fight, and as of right now, the Admirals are winning three rounds to none. Those receiving the early gate for Norfolk were Chris Durno, Mike Angelidis, Alex Berry, Scott Jackson, Blair Jones, Ty Wishart, and Pierre-Cedric Labrie.

Norfolk moves to within 3 points of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for first place in the East Division with the Pens holding a game in hand.

Box score from TheAHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11/27/10 Panthers at Lightning

I hate shootouts, but not as much as I hate the Panthers.

FLA-4
TB-3 (SO)

Dan Ellis allowed 3 goals on 27 shots before giving up 1 goal on 4 attempts for the shootout loss. One of Ellis' goals allowed was on a penalty shot.

First Period
10:21 TB Purcell (5), Stamkos (18), Malone (10)(PP)

Second Period
10:12 TB Tyrell (3), Ritola (3), Downie (11)
12:22 FLA Dvorak (5), unassisted (SH)(PS)

Third Period
03:08 FLA Kulikov (1), unassisted
08:31 FLA Matthias (4), Santorelli (3)
13:15 TB Bergenheim (4), Purcell (12), Malone (11)

Overtime
NO SCORING

Shootout
FLA- Weiss
TB- NONE

Teddy Purcell and Dana Tyrell were the game's second and third stars. Florida got the bounces they needed to hang around in the game and ended up stealing two points. The effort level was much improved from the Washington debacle, at least.

Mattias Ritola had an assist and two shots in 7:26. Tonight, his softness officially became a liability, when he got beat on Kulikov's goal.

Tyrell had a goal and was +1 with 3 shots, 2 hits, and 3 blocked shots in 12:22.

Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 1 hit in 2:37.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Day: 11/26/10 Lightning at Capitals

Suggestion to Coach Boucher for the next morning activation exercise in DC: bag skate.

TB-0
WSH-6

Mike Smith allowed 4 goals on 18 shots for the loss before Dan Ellis came in and gave up 2 goals on 11 shots the rest of the way. You can't blame the goaltending, though, when the team in front of the netminder can't win a single skate race or puck battle and only manages a measely 17 shots on goal.

First Period
03:09 WSH Carlson (3), Johansson (1)

Second Period
04:38 WSH Erskine (3), Fahey (1), Laich (11)
06:52 WSH Semin (15), Johansson (2)
08:56 WSH Semin (16), Backstrom (16), Ovechkin (20)(PP)
11:21 WSH Semin (17), Backstrom (17), Ovechkin (21)(PP)

Third Period
14:46 WSH Poti (2), Hendricks (5)

I can't explain it. I can't explain why this team starts playing stupid hockey every time they go into Washington DC, and I can't explain why this team seems to lay down every time they see the Caps. It's as amazing as it is unacceptable, especially given what was on the line in this game. It's like they don't respect Washington's offense enough and they get into run-and-gun mode, and you lose if you get into run-and-gun mode with Washington. But what's even more annoying is to only manage 17 shots on Washington, when you know damned well the Capitals don't play any defense. But, when you're last to the puck every single time, you don't generate shots on goal, and you get shutout. Lesson learned, I hope. Move your feet.

In any event, there's a trap game tomorrow night against a Florida team that seems to only play about a half a dozen good games a season, and they save them all for the time they play against the Lightning. Time to get back to basics, and start working hard again, because the last two periods against Washington were pittiful.

Mattias Ritola was -2 with 2 penalty minutes and 1 hit. And, the next puck battle he wins will be his next. He's soft as margarine on the forecheck. There, I said it.

Dana Tyrell was -1 in 11:27.

Blair Jones was -1 with 1 shot and 2 hits in 12:15. He also was 56% on draws. I thought today's game was a step forward for Blair. He seemed to do less thinking on the forecheck and more competing. This kid's a beast behind the opposing cage on the forecheck when he's playing rather than outsmarting himself. When he tries to be clever, he kills himself, because he's just not quick enough to take that extra split second to ponder the play. He just needs to stick his nose in and play like the JYD we all know he can be.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11/24/10 Rangers at Lightning

First five game winning streak since 2007.

NYR-3
TB-5

Mike Smith allowed 3 goals on 20 shots for the win.

First Period
07:06 TB Malone (4), Stamkos (16), St Louis (20)(PP)
15:37 TB Malone (5), Stamkos (17), Purcell (10)(PP)

Second Period
04:53 TB Stamkos (21), Downie (9), St Louis (21)
11:05 TB Clark (5), Downie (10), Purcell (11)(PP)
16:56 TB Hedman (1), Ritola (2), Bergenheim (6)

Third Period
03:58 NYR Eminger (1), Stepan (8)
12:51 NYR Boyle (10), Staal (3), Prust (6)(SH)
18:56 NYR Stepan (5), Gaborik (6), Del Zotto (5)(PP)

Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone, and Steve Downie were the game's three stars. It was forty minutes of some of the best hockey of the year, followed by twenty minutes of the team letting its foot off the gas a bit and starting to freelance a bit and play outside of the team system, especially on the power play, as they tried to get Malone his hat trick goal. They'll take the two points and learn from that third period, hopefully, and get ready for a big game against the Caps. The Lightning have maintained contact in the standings at 4 points back with a game in hand. A win against Washington really sends a message.

By the way, Malone's two power play goals and the Clark goal were Exhibit A on how teams cheating to try to take away Stamkos on the power play are just playing Russian Roulette. They left Malone in front for two easy rebound goals by cheating toward Stamkos and then left Downie wide open for a one timer up the slot on the Clark goal. And, what's funny is, Stamkos still had about three really good chances from around the left wing circle anyway. Teams are going to start weighing the risk-reward of overplaying to Stamkos' side now, and I don't think that's a gamble where the team that does it wins. He's got such a quick release there's still a decent chance he's going to get his shot off anyway, and you're surrendering the front of the net or a shot from dead center up the slot in the process. Heaven help the league when that unit gets Lecavalier back in the right wing circle, because if he can pound a few one timers home like he used to back-in-the-day, it's going to create absolute chaos in the assistant coaching community.

Mattias Ritola had an assist and was +1 with 3 shots in 8:04. He darned near had a goal on the first shift on the Lightning's last power play.

Dana Tyrell had 1 blocked shot in 13:36. It's crazy to see his stat line so blank, because he was definitely involved in tonight's play. He played well again.

Blair Jones had 2 penalty minutes and 1 shot in 8:34. I've seen him play better. It's not for lack of effort. He just seems to be playing tight, perhaps.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

NHL Game Night: 11/22/10 Bruins at Lightning

... And you keep winning...

BOS-1
TB-3

Mike Smith allowed 1 goal on 27 shots for the win.

First Period
NO SCORING

Second Period
03:26 TB Tyrell (2), Jones (6), Thompson (6)
05:15 TB Stamkos (20), St Louis (19), Downie (8)
11:36 TB Purcell (4), Moore (4), Malone (9)

Third Period
10:38 BOS Ryder (6), Wheeler (4), Caron (3)

Martin St. Louis, Dominic Moore, and Pavel Kubina were the game's three stars.

The Lightning absolutely dominated Boston for about 36 of the first 40 minutes, and outshot Boston 36-27 overall on the game, with a ton of chances. They could've scored another 8 like in Philly if not for the play of Tuukka Rask. That's a nice statement to make on national TV.

Mathieu Roy had 1 hit in 2:51. Nice work if you can get it.

Dana Tyrell had a goal and was +1 with 2 shots, 1 hit, and 1 blocked shot in 12:33. That was probably his best NHL game thus far, and not just because of the goal he got going into a high traffic area. His speed was evident, and he got himself another nice chance from the left wing circle he just shot wide with Rask screened. The most impressive thing I saw, though, was Tyrell almost knocked Zdeno Chara off the puck at one point after Steve Downie almost got killed trying to run at Chara. How strong is Dana Tyrell if he can move a mountain like Chara?

Blair Jones was scoreless in 6:01.

Expect moves to be made with Ritola coming off suspension and Gagne seemingly close to returning.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.

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