I attended the second home game, and third game of the season, last night for the Tampa Bay Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. Apparently, GM Steve Yzerman had been in attendance the night before. If I had known that I might've gone to Friday's game instead of Saturday's.
Here are some thoughts about the game and the prospects:
- The Admirals played the Worcester Sharks for the second of back-to-back games. The final score for the game was Norfolk 7, Worcester 2. The Ads had 56 shots on goal for the game, while the Sharks had 35. The first Sharks goalie was pulled less than five minutes into the game after letting in three goals on five shots.
- Three players scored two goals each: LW Chris Durno, LW Johan Harju, and C Paul Szczechura. The other goal was scored by C Marc-Antoine Pouliot.
- The Norfolk scratches for the game were G Cedrick Desjardins, LW Stefano Giliati, LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie, LW Alex Hutchings, LW Mitch Fritz, and D Radko Gudas.
- The team did not appear to play the same sort of 1-3-1 system that is favored by Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, but something more conventional.
- The overwhelming opinion seems to be that goaltender Cedric Desjardins is ready for the NHL. In fact a couple of people that I spoke with thought that he was a better choice in net for the Lightning than Mike Smith is. No one had much of an opinion on Dan Ellis as of yet, however.
- Speaking of Desjardins, he did not dress for the game last night. Instead, Dustin Tokarski was the starting goaltender, and he had Jaroslav Janus backing him up. Janus, incidentally, was sent down to the ECHL Florida Everblades today along with Hutchings.
- The second goal to get past Tokarski was a soft one that he should've had. Overall, his play was okay - he was rather inconsistent at the beginning of the game but finished strongly. As one person put it, he needs more seasoning before he sees any regular NHL action.
- The defense wasn't that great. After the first 10 minutes of the game, they all collectively did a lot of standing around. No one really caught my eye, and no one was really moving their feet much. About the only defenseman doing anything at times was Ty Wishart, but even he wasn't all that spectacular.
- D Mathieu Roy will not (or, perhaps, should not) see the ice again in Tampa any time soon. Harju, who had a great second half of the game, had a breakaway attempt that was not successful. However, just as he was shooting the puck, Roy was getting into a fight at the far blue line. The play had been called dead just as Harju shot the puck, and had that puck gotten past the Worcester goalie, it would've been waved off because of this fight. Very poorly timed fight on the part of Roy - you really have to wonder about his decision and why he thought that was a good idea just then. Thankfully, the Ads were already up 6-2 at that point.
- C James "Killer" Wright had a great first period - he was easily the best player on the ice then. But then he sort of disappeared into the crowd somewhere in the second period. He had had a great game the night before when it counted, though. He'd had one goal and two assists, granting him the second star of the game, in front of Yzerman.
- Szczechura had a great game. He was one of three players that had scored two goals each. And he'd made a fantastic defensive play in the second in front of Tokarski. He earned the second star of the night. He's not flashy, and he didn't really draw attention to himself much, but he got the job done.
- Harju, as mentioned before, had a great second half of the game. The team came out strong for the first five minutes of the game, but then the momentum changed and they were sitting back on their heels. Harju had a couple of nice breakaways in the third, however he didn't score on either, and scored a power play goal during a 3-minute power play. A Sharks player had gotten five minutes for spearing and a game misconduct, while Jones went to the box as well for two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Harju was awarded the first star of the game honors, while Jones - who had six shots and two assists - received the third star of the game.
- Again, the three stars of the game were 1. Harju, 2. Szczechura, and 3. Jones.
I will likely be attending my next game in Norfolk sometime in mid-November.