Diaper dandies Lada Togliatti began the post-Rosno Cup portion of their schedule much like they played the weeks leading into it. Goaltender Vasily Koshechkin improved his overall record to 14-4-2 this season beating Severstal Cherepovets 2-1. Koshechkin has been the backbone of a Togliatti team which continues its improbable run through the Russian Superleague despite having an average age of less than 22 years old.
The Johnstown Chiefs have announced that goaltender Morgan Cey has been named to Team Canada for the Spengler Cup to be held in Davos, Switzerland December 26th through 31st. The Spengler Cup is an annual tournament pitting some of the best club teams in Europe against a team of Canadian players usually comprised of Canadian expatriates currently playing in leagues overseas. This year's tournament will feature European clubs Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Superleague, HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga, home town HC Davos of the Swiss NLA (whom winger Shane Willis plays for), and Elsbaren Berlin of the German DEL.
Cey was selected to the club by Al Coates, former general manager of the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and NHL Hall of Famer Lanny MacDonald. The native of Wilkie, Saskatchewan had a 4-3-2-3 record with a 3.20 GAA and .902 save percentage prior to tonight's 3-2 win at home against Charlotte. Team Canada's full Spengler Cup roster can be found at Hockey Canada's website.
Earlier this month, Lightning overage prospect Eric Perrin participated in the Loto Cup in Slovakia, which is another tournament for expatriate players. Perrin had 1 assist in three games as Canada went 1-2 losing to Switzerland and Slovakia and defeating Latvia.
This is the kind of production Henrich and Dicaire should be getting every night out in the ECHL, in my opinion.
Morgan Cey is fully back on track and in control stopping 31 of 33 in the win. Adam Henrich led the way with a goal and two assists figuring in the scoring of every Chiefs goal tonight. Former WHL power play wizard Gerard Dicaire had a power play goal to open the game. Veteran Justin Kelly had three assists while the timeless Dimitri Tarabrin stayed hot with a goal and an assist.
It's interesting to note former 2nd round picks Dicaire and Henrich weren't the highest ranking draft properties on the rink tonight. Rangers 1st round pick Hugh Jessiman from Dartmouth had an assist for the Checkers.
Game sheet from ECHL.com.
I was pretty apathetic to the Carolina Hurricanes prior to tonight. Just like any Southeast Division opposition the Lightning have faced over the past two seasons, they were the weakling kid the Lightning would beat up and steal the lunch money from. No threat, so no animosity. Tonight though? I hate the Carolina Hurricanes. I hate their arrogant, homer, idiotic announcers. I hate their fairweather fans (all three of them). And I hate the fact the Tampa Bay Lightning have allowed themselves to fall seven points behind the Carolina Hurricanes in the division.
Sean Burke allowed 6 goals on 30 shots faced, although only one of those (Staal's second) I would qualify as a soft goal. The Lightning skaters brought enough passion to the rink to win this game, but they apparently left their brains in the hotel rooms. Carolina capitalized on mistakes like the turnover at the Canes blueline that led to Cole's 2-on-1 goal, and they gave Carolina 9 opportunities on the power play in a game where they were constantly battling uphill to try to get that next goal. Being caught in the box also contributed to another low shot total night as the Lightning only got 24 through on Martin Gerber. The team continues to try too hard to find the perfect shot from the perimeter that they find blocked more often than not and too timid to pay the price to get the puck to the front of the net to produce those multiple shot dirty chances that should be the staple of any successful hockey team.
The one line that was creating those dirty chances was the line that had Ryan Craig and Evgeny Artyukhin on it. Both rookies played very well tonight and Craig had his second goal in as many NHL games going to the net and getting a garbage tally on a scrum caused by Artyukhin. Craig's lack of speed definitely inhibits what he can do off the rush, but he is proving that if you can get him the puck down low he will play strong on the puck and generate forecheck and scoring chances at this level just like he did in the AHL.
Tonight Craig receieved a sizable 18:42 of ice time, was even, and had two shots on goal. Artyukhin had 11 minutes even, two shots on goal, and three hits, but he got in the box at the end of the game which hurt the Lightning's comeback bid. Paul Ranger played a rather pedestrian 14:11 of even hockey. He certainly isn't hurting the team right now, but he isn't showing the upside he showed earlier this season either. Darren Reid played a sparing 5:38 with one hit, but he did draw a penalty early in the game. Much like Tarnasky in his callup earlier this season, Reid's working hard but he doesn't look quite steady enough yet to stick at this level.
As a whole, tonight should've been the Tampa Bay Lightning's wake up call. They now have the Rangers and Sabres and then a rematch with Carolina on Monday. All three are, for December hockey, must win hockey games. The Lightning have coasted to this point at about 85% of their capability. As the Christmas break looms, now is the time for the Lightning to start paying the price. Reputation alone can no longer carry this team. It's go time.
Game sheet from NHL.com. Lets kill these bastards on Monday.
Veteran defenseman Anders Eriksson has been released from his professional tryout contract by the Springfield Falcons. The offensive minded blueliner has decided to pursue other opportunities to play professionally in Russia. The departure will likely free up playing time for veteran Brad Tiley.