Tampa Bay Lightning
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 February 5 is … Cory Conacher, W, Tampa Bay (NHL – USA)
The Cory Conacher Show made its debut on opening night for the Lightning this season as the rookie posted a goal and an assist in his debut. He was named our Prospect of the Week for that performance.
Now, after eight games, the show is still a hit and he’s our Prospect of the Week again.
In a close game, quality goaltending matters.
Mathieu Garon allowed 3 goals on 30 shots tonight. He looked rusty and struggled, in my opinion. Rebounds were being kicked all over the place, he had trouble following the puck, and the last two Ranger goals were not his best efforts. Even the first goal was off a favorable rebound left on the doorstep.
04:22 TB Stamkos (6), (Carle, St. Louis)(PP)
09:50 NYR Stepan (1), (Pyatt, Haggelin)
03:04 NYR Nash (2), (Richards, Staal)
14:47 NYR Haggelin (1), (Pyatt)
19:39 TB Stamkos (7), (Carle, Malone)
Steven Stamkos was the game's third star.
Would the outcome have been different with Lindback in net? Perhaps. Would the outcome have been different if the Lightning were not in a back-to-back against a fresher Rangers team? I think so. Either way, this was an early stress test of the Lightning's ability to handle a more tight checking style, and while they didn't outright fail it, there are some questions left open.
Cory Conacher was -1 with 2 shots and 1 hit in 16:17.
Lambs meet slaughter.
Anders Lindback allowed 3 goals on 29 shots as the Lightning defense got too loose and allowed three cheapies in garbage time.
07:57 TB Conacher (4), (Carle, Pouliot)(PP)
14:11 TB Stamkos (5), (Purcell, Lindback)(PP)
16:55 TB Lecavalier (4), (St. Louis, Stamkos)(PP)
00:26 TB Conacher (5), (Brewer, Lecavalier)
04:43 TB Thompson (1), (Crombeen, Brewer)
05:43 TB Purcell (2), (Stamkos)
05:34 WPG Enstrom (2), (Postma, Ladd)
06:35 WPG Postma (1), (Enstrom, Little)(PP)
08:46 TB Malone (4), (Lecavalier, Conacher)
09:49 WPG Ladd (3), (Postma, Enstrom)(PP)
18:35 TB Pouliot (2), (Pyatt, Hedman)
Going in, the game was pretty simple to call. The Jets PK was in the low-60% range and the Lightning are over 30% with the man advantage. If Winnipeg got in the box, it would be a bloodbath, especially with Byfuglien out, and that's exactly what happened. Good job by the Lightning not to play down to the opposition.
Cory Conacher had 2 goals, 1 assist, and was +3 with 2 shots in 13:53. Standard Conacher line so far this year.
Part game recap, analysis and scouting report, the Day-After Digest appears after every Lightning game.
By defeating the Panthers, the Lightning extended their divisional lead to three points as Winnipeg fell in regulation to Montreal. After taking a 2-1 lead into the first period, Tampa Bay put together its best middle frame of the season, outscoring Florida 2-0 in the process, before closing out the visiting state rivals. The Panthers were visibly frustrated for much of the final twenty minutes of action and took three misconduct penalties, including a ten minute infraction on Tomas Kopecky.
Steven Stamkos opened the scoring with a power play marker shortly after the first period midpoint and Cory Conacher followed with a tally of the highlight reel variety. Tom Pyatt, Dana Tyrell and Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the Lightning. Lecavalier finished a beautiful passing sequence set up initially by Victor Hedman, who carried the puck into the Panthers end, banked a pass off the end boards to Cory Conacher who sent a drop-pass to a trailer, Benoit Pouliot, who wasted no time firing a cross-ice feed through a soft spot in Florida's defensive coverage to the opposite hash and directly into the Lightning captain's wheelhouse.
Despite the lopsided result and with the Lightning much more sound and consistent defensively, the Lightning were still far from flawless. The Panthers managed several breakaways, one of which they scored on, and other quality scoring chances as a result of no-look passes, poor reads and, in one instance, an Anders Lindback turnover after stopping a dump-in, holding the puck too long and attempting a last-second clear. The puck sailed right into hard-charging Peter Mueller, leaving Lindback vulnerable behind his own net and caused him to scramble back into position. The miscue ended costing Tampa Bay its early lead just fifteen seconds after earning it at the other end of the ice as Mueller was able to jam in his own rebound after trying to bank the puck in the net off of Lindback.
In his postgame remarks, Boucher wouldn't admit to being concerned about Lindback's tendency so far this season to allow a weak goal or two, stressing instead the need to "have patience" with the goalies, especially a young netminder like Lindback who is still developing.
"He's got to feel he's allowed to make mistakes," Boucher added. "We have his back because he has the players' backs very often."
Bailing out the skaters in front of him Lindback did do, delivering some key saves in the match, including a stop on a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Scottie Upshall early in the first period. On the play, Upshall went to his backhand and, with the entire bottom portion of the net taken away by a tremendously extended left leg, tried unsuccessfully to lift the puck over the Lindback's glove.
One of the other promising developments to date this season has been the return of scoring depth as it is not only the top lines but also the bottom lines that are producing. Through six games, the Lightning have nine forwards who have found the net.
Last night it was speedy wingers Tyrell and Pyatt chipping in and, while they were on the ice together, looking like a dynamic duo as they worked feverishly and threw their bodies around at both ends while leading rapid, north-south counter-rushes and continually driving the net.
Benoit Pouliot, too, was also a force as he matched a physical presence that led to several punishing checks with consistent back-checking and efficient (and sometimes flashy) puck movement be it by skating or passing it. Even accounting for an egregious turnover at mid-ice while on a power play that resulted in a shorthanded goal against, Pouliot had what was, so far, probably easily his best showing as a Bolt.
"That third line gets on and they're very difficult to stop because of their speed," Boucher said in praise of the unit. "They play deep, 200-feet hockey. They tire the other team out."
Sinking rivals thrown anchor...
Anders Lindback stopped 26 of 28 for the victory. He had a bone headed puck handling gaffe that cost him the first goal he allowed. If he can clear up some of the mistakes, his numbers are going to start looking quite nice.
11:09 TB Stamkos (4), (St. Louis, Lecavalier)(PP)
11:24 FLA Mueller (2), (unassisted)
12:49 TB Conacher (3), (Hedman)
03:18 TB Pyatt (3), (Tyrell)
15:39 TB Tyrell (1), (Pyatt, Pouliot)
14:13 TB Lecavalier (3), (Pouliot, Conacher)(PP)
14:31 FLA Fleischmann (2), (unassisted)(SH)
With the Panthers already off to a 1-4 start, this was an opportunity for the Lightning to really put their rivals behind the 8-ball in a 48 game shortened season and they capitalized on it big time. Killer instinct. You also have to like how the shots against and goals against are creeping to acceptable levels.
Keith Aulie was +1 with 3 hits in 12:24. Tonight was Aulie's 82nd NHL game, graduating him from prospect status on the website. Aulie becomes a Bolt Prospects Alumni joining the likes of the afore mentioned Tyrell.
Conacher had 1 goal and 1 assist and was +1 with 2 penalty minutes and 3 shots in 13:05. Standard Honey Badger stat line. He was also hosed on a holding call chasing a loose puck that would have resulted in a breakaway goal.