We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for December 2-8, 2013 is … Ondrej Palat, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL – USA).
The most underappreciated prospect in the Lightning system in recent years is finally getting the attention he deserves. Ondrej Palat, a seventh round pick of the Lightning in 2011, has been a coach’s dream since he forced his way onto AHL Norfolk’s roster in 2011 when the Lightning though he’d return to QMJHL Drummondville. He’s been an integral part of Norfolk, Syracuse, and now Tampa Bay ever since.
Palat is a do-it-all player who thinks the game at another level than most young players. Most times that description refers to offensive vision, but Palat’s is a big-picture, coach-like ability to read the game. His responsibility level is off the charts and he has the skating, size, and skill to fit in on any line.
Khanty-Mansitysk 2 vs. Vladivostok 3
Nikita Gusev, Khanty-Mansiysk, 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 3 SOG
Season totals: 27 GP, 2-2-4, -7, 8 PIM
Nikita Gusev was scoreless in 7:58 in Yugra's 3-2 loss to Khanty-Mansiysk. Ex-Lightning defenseman Mike Commodore had a helper for Vladivostok.
Yaroslavl 4 vs. Ufa 2
Andrey Vasilevskiy, Ufa, DNP
Season totals: 19 GP, 10-6-3, 1 SO, 2.31 GAA, .923 sv%
Ex-Leafs draft pick Staffan Kronwall had a pair of assists to help lead Yaroslavl to a 4-2 victory over Ufa. Andrey Vasilevskiy did not dress for Ufa.
St. Petersburg 0 vs. Magnitogorsk 2
Vasily Koshechkin, Magnitogorsk, Win, SO, 32/32, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 sv%
Season totals: 33 GP, 18-8-6, 5 SO, 2.06 GAA, .933 sv%
Vasily Koshechkin turned aside all 32 Lokomotiv shots to post a shutout in Magnitogorsk's 2-0 win over SKA St. Petersburg. Ex-Ducks draft pick Tim Brent and ex-Florida Everblade Chris Lee each had 1 goal and 1 assist for Metallurg. Koshechkin is tied for second in the KHL in shutouts, one back of Curtis Sanford of Yaroslavl and Ivan Lisutin of Chekhov.
Capitals steal a point from the Lightning.
Ben Bishop allowed 5 goals on 31 shots and 3 of 5 shooters to convert in the Shootout for the SO Loss. He wasn't as on top of his game as usual, but the only goal I might be able to fault him for was Ovechkin's tying goal with the empty net, which squirted underneath his armpit.
2:26 TB St Louis (13), (Salo, Johnson)(PP)
10:49 TB Kucherov (2), (Purcell, Carle)(PP)
11:07 TB Thompson (3), (Brown, Crombeen)
14:15 WSH Ovechkin (23), (Backstrom)
6:24 WSH Backstrom (7), (Grabovski, Brouwer)(PP)
12:41 TB Johnson (7), (Palat, St Louis)
16:38 WSH Ovechkin (24), (Johansson, Backstrom)(PP)
18:48 WSH Ovechkin (25), (Green, Backstrom)(PP)
8:36 TB Palat (5), (Johnson, St Louis)
19:27 WSH Ovechkin (26), (Carlson, Backstrom)
TB- Kucherov, Purcell
WSH- Fehr, Grabovski, Brouwer
Martin St. Louis was the game's third star.
The Lightning have nothing to feel ashamed of in this game. They dominated, and I mean DOMINATED play at even strength. They outshot Washington 42-31 and if it weren't for Washington being spotted two goals on a boarding major, I suspect the Lightning would have won this game in regulation going away. That's quite the achievement going against a high-powered team like Washington with their top defenseman, Victor Hedman, out of the lineup. I'll take that effort, minus the boarding major, 9 nights out of 10 and win on most of those nights.
The Lightning close the third 10-game segment of the season with 9 points, 3 shy of the minimum 12 you want every 10-game segment. That's bad. However, because the team had gotten a surplus of 4 points in the first 2 segments of the campaign, they remain on track for the season. However, they cannot afford to keep falling behind schedule in these 10-game segments and this fourth segment coming up is going to be critical for the Lightning as they attempt to stay in position for a postseason run.
Radko Gudas was -1 with 2 shots, 10 hits, and 3 blocked shots in a huge 28:38 of ice time. That's not a typo (neither the minutes nor the hits). The young man's a stud.
Mark Barberio was +1 with 1 shot in 7:18. Only Panik had less ice time (for reasons that will be obvious later), and that is very reflective of how he played. If you're ever looking to make the case on why plus-minus is a deceptive stat, Mark Barberio might be Case 1. Yes, he's got a good plus-minus so far this season and even got a plus rating in this game. No, he's not good defensively at all. He had an ill-advised step up in the neutral zone in the Second Period that led to a quick 3-on-1, a really long foray for Washington in the offensive zone, and eventually a penalty on the Lightning that Backstrom scored on to cut the Lightning's lead to 3-2. In the Third Period, Barberio was defending a defenseman, Karl Alzner, on the rush and Alzner nearly beat Barberio around the corner. Barberio made a stay-at-home defenseman look like Bill Guerin in his prime. So, you have bad decision making and a guy who is physically weak. That's a recipe for disaster the Lightning coaching staff decided not to bake with tonight.
Tyler Johnson had 1 goal, 3 points, and was +2 with 3 shots in 20:50. He was also 42% on draws. He was certainly on the right line tonight, supporting St. Louis and Palat as they ran wild on the Caps. He wasn't the straw that stirs the drink, but he's a nice compliment to those two.
Alex Killorn was -1 with 2 penalty minutes, 4 shots, and 1 hit in 22:20. The penalty he took was a complete fabrication by the refs and it's fortunate that didn't cost the Lightning. Beyond that, I thought Killorn had one of his better games in a while. He was strong as an ox on the puck and getting shots in bunches, playing his game. This is what you expect from Alex Killorn.
Ondrej Palat had 1 goal, 2 points, and was +2 with 6 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots in 20:25. In my mind he was the Lightning's best player tonight. He was so dangerous on the rush and he already is showing incredible chemistry with Martin St. Louis. Those two look like they have magic together and Palat nearly won the game twice in Overtime hitting the post from the RW circle on one play and toe dragging into the slot for another opportunity he was denied on. He was outstanding, and it speaks to the quality of Palat's game that of all the talented rookies this team has he is the one that is standing out the most right now.
J.T. Brown had an assist, 2 shots, and 1 hit in 11:02. He played sparing minutes with the fourth line but made the most of them, in my mind. He gave Nate Thompson an easy goal on a 2-on-1 by freezing the goaltender with a fake shot before dishing and he helped that line put together a stabilizing forechecking shift when the team was clinging to a 1 goal lead at 3-2 in the Second Period.
Matt Taormina had 2 hits in 11:33. A lot of his time came on the second PP unit as the Lightning tried to hide him a bit from Washington's skillful forwards.
Nikita Kucherov had a goal and was -1 with 3 shots and 1 hit in 14:07. He has a spot. High slot. Give him the puck there for a quick release slapper and he's looking as money as Steven Stamkos from the left wing circle. As breathtaking as that goal was, his Pavel Datsyuk impression in the Shootout is the one you're going to see on highlight reels. The young man has ridiculous hands.
Andrej Sustr had 1 hit in 11:36. He stood up ok with his reach on the one really dangerous rush I recall him facing, but it's clear he wasn't comfortable with Washington's pace so the Lightning coaches appeared to protect him just like Barberio and Taormina.
Richard Panik had 5 penalty minutes with 1 shot and 1 hit in 5:29. His major for boarding Alzner was obviously the turning point of the game. The Lightning held a 4-2 lead on Washington at the time he took the penalty and appeared to be cruising toward a victory. Washington emerged from that major penalty with a 4-4 tie, and that allowed Washington to avoid getting run out of their own building, in my opinion. The Lightning have Tyrell on emergency recall from Syracuse, so I don't know if it's feasible to send Panik down right now, but something's got to give. He's just not contributing anything right now, and he owes the team a point after tonight's debacle. I feel bad for the young man, but the team can't keep investing time in him and keep getting nothing in return. Ultimately, Steve Yzerman and Jon Cooper aren't running a charity. This is a results oriented business and 30 games into the season Panik simply hasn't been getting results.
St. John's finally solves SyraNo.
STJ Jaffray, (8) (Kichton, Redmond), 8:23 (PP)
SYR Angelidis, (2) (Paquette), 11:10
STJ Lowry, (2) (Lipon), 18:03
STJ Fredheim, (1) (Samson, Mouillierat), 7:05 (PP)
STJ Schnell, (1) (Redmond), 7:17
STJ O'Neill, (2) (Redmond, Gordon), 19:50
SYR Paquette, (7) (Langelier-Parent, Connolly), 9:07
STJ Klingberg, (7) (MacKinnon, Riley), 19:29
There's not much to feel positive about from this contest. Syracuse was dominated on the shot board 47-15 and dominated on the scoreboard 6-2. The two teams square off again tomorrow when the Crunch will have a chance at redemption. As an old hockey hand once told me, it's really hard to paste the same team two nights in a row.
Box score from TheAHL.com.
Bratislava 1 vs. Mytischi 2 (SO)
Jaroslav Janus, Bratislava, SO Loss, 18/19, 0.92 GAA, .947 sv%
Season totals: 23 GP, 9-10-4, 2 SO, 2.85 GAA, .892 sv%
Jaroslav Janus allowed 1 of 3 to convert in the penalty session for the SO Loss in Bratislava's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Mytischi. Ex-Lightning first rounder Vladimir Mihalik assisted on Slovan's lone regulation goal.