For the third time this season the Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled Alexander Volkov from the Syracuse Crunch. With injuries mounting among the forward ranks, the Bolts needed to bring in some reinforcements. Volkov will most likely slot into the spot vacated by Nikita Kucherov who left Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a lower body injury following an awkward collision behind the net.
In a vacuum NHL teams would recall the best player available when they need to fill a hole in the line-up. In that case, chances are it would have been Gemel Smith jumping on the flight down to Tampa. Alas, it’s not a perfect world and there extenuating circumstances that affect who gets the chance to shine on the national spotlight.
While Smith has done everything the organization has asked for (35 points in 43 games), he just wasn’t the fit that the Lightning are looking for right now. Perhaps if Steven Stamkos wasn’t expected to return to the line-up on Thursday, Smith would have joined Volkov on the trip to Florida.
With Stamkos returning the Crunch don’t need an extra center (even with Anthony Cirelli possibly out) so Smith stayed in Syracuse (and played well in their 1-0 win over Binghamton on Wednesday).
In his past recalls, Volkov hasn’t exactly impressed a lot of folks with his play. In eight games he has one assist and hasn’t been putting himself in position to be much of an impact on offense. It will be interesting to see if Coach Cooper gives him a little more playing time during this showcase. During his first recall he was averaging more than ten minutes a game while in his second he was closer to the seven to eight minute range.
In theory he’d be more effective as a top-six forward, the role he’s used to playing in Syracuse. He has spent most of his time on the ice with Steven Stamkos and it’ll be interesting to see if Coach Cooper starts him out there or if he has to earn his way up to a top line. No matter where he lines up, he’s going to have to show the staff that he’s willing to play the entire length of the ice and not take any shifts off.
That’s something that’s been a noticeable difference during his most recent sojourn to Syracuse. Volkov was steady if not spectacular during his last reassignment to the Crunch. He started off on fire with six points (3 goals, 3 assists) in his first two games, but since then has just 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in the eight following games.
While he hasn’t been compiling a tremendous amount of offensive stats, he has been playing solid. He’s been skating with a lot more energy and been more of a presence on the forecheck than he was earlier in the season. If he plays in Tampa like he has in Syracuse of late, he should find himself with plenty of ice time (and maybe a few more points).
Yanni Gourde ended a long goalless drought (no word yet if a priest was involved or not). Geo took a look at the goal and the rest of the win against the Penguins. [Raw Charge]
The trade deadline is just around the corner. Could the Lightning add a veteran depth defenseman? Sports Illustrated has a suggestion that would involve making a trade with an old friend. [Sports Illustrated]
Marty St. Louis has been in town making the rounds lately. He sat down with former teammate Dan Girardi to chat about stuff. [The Block Party with Dan Girardi]
Tuesday’s game winner was preceded by one of the slowest two-on-rushes in the history of overtime hockey. Diana Nearhos takes a look at the overtime shift that set up the Gourde’s goal. [Tampa Bay Times]
The Syracuse Crunch scored thirteen seconds into their game against the Binghamton Devils. They figured that would be enough and didn’t score the rest of the way. They were correct as Scott Wedgewood stopped 33 shots and the penalty kill thwarted eight Binghamton power plays. [Box Score]
Alexey Lipanov was reassigned to the Crunch and made his season debut for Syracuse on a line with Otto Somppi and Daniel Walcott. He wasn’t credited with a shot, but did look comfortable on the ice. [Syracuse Crunch]
Seattle hockey fans are a tad impatiant with the launch of their upcoming franchise. The Seattle Times takes a look at how their rollout stacks up against the most recent expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights. In short, not bad. [The Seattle Times]
Happy Birthday to all you folks born on February 13th. You share your special day with a few hockey players who made brief stops in Tampa. Todd Fedoruk played in 50 games with the Lightning in 2009-10, scoring three goals while battling an ongoing substance abuse problem.
Cory Murphy was signed off of waivers in January of 2009. He got to play with a young rookie named Steven Stamkos. That’s probably the highlight of his time with Tampa Bay.
Juha Ylonen lasted the longest with the club as he skated in 65 games during the 2001-02 season. He scored three goals before being traded to Ottawa for fan favorite Andre Roy and a sixth round pick that the Lightning used to draft Paul Ranger. That worked out pretty well for the Bolts.