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Tag:Tampa Bay Lightning
Posted on: December 14, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 3:11 pm
 

Milan Michalek's fast start

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Pucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at the the fast start for Ottawa Senators forward Milan Michalek.


By: Adam Gretz

(Note: I started to prepare this Tuesday evening after Milan Michalek took over the NHL's goal-scoring lead, and before he was injured. It was announced on Wednesday that's he day-to-day with a concussion. I decided to go with it today anyway.)


Ottawa Senators forward Milan Michalek unfortunately became the latest player in the NHL to suffer a concussion during his team's 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night when he collided with his teammate, Erik Karlsson, in the second period. It had to be a tense moment for the Senators and their fans to watch as their two best players this season smashed into each other. It's the second time in a week that an accidental collision between teammates sidelined a top-scorer with a concussion, as Philadelphia's Claude Giroux is currently out after Wayne Simmonds hit him in the back of the head with his knee over the weekend.

Michalek's status for future games is still unknown at this point, and while the team currently has him listed as day-to-day, you simply never know with concussions. It could be a couple of games, it could be a couple of weeks, or it could be even longer.

Head coach Paul MacLean said on Wednesday that he didn't think it was going to ruin his season, which is good news. Hopefully, for his sake and the Senators, he's able to return to the lineup soon enough.

Before exiting Tuesday's game he did manage to add to his early season goal total, scoring his (as of Wednesday morning) league leading 19th goal of the season, pushing him past Toronto's Phil Kessel and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos.

It's been a magnificent start to the season for 27-year-old forward, and by far the best of his seven-year career. Through 31 games he's only seven goals behind his previous career best for a full season (26), and was on a pace to shatter that total assuming he kept producing at the same rate -- even if that were unlikely to happen, even before the injury.

Currently, Michalek is shooting at a 21 percent rate, a mark that few players have been able to top over a full season in recent years. Since the start of the 2005-06 season, only eight players that qualified for the league lead finished with a number that high, and pretty much all of them were single season outliers in each players career. And that's kind of what's happening for Michalek this season.

For his career, he is a 12 percent shooter, and his previous six individual seasons have all fallen between 10 and 13 percent. Like most players, he's been pretty consistent in that area.

How does his hot start compare to his previous seasons through the same number of games? Let's take a quick look:

Milan Michalek's Goal Scoring
Year Goals (through 31 games) Shots On Goal (31 games) Shots Per Game (31 games) Shooting % (31 games) Full Season Shooting %
2011-12 19 88 2.80 21.5%  N/A
2010-11  7  63 2.00 11.1%  10.8%
2009-10  15 85 2.74 17.6%  13.5%
2008-09  8 75 2.41 10.6%  12.8%
2007-08  10 98 3.16 10.2%  10.3%
2006-07  10 76 2.45 13.1%  13.6%
2005-06  4 52 1.67 7.6% 10.7%

Obviously, this season stands out from the rest.

One of the factors that's gone into his increased production (both goals and shots) is that he's simply playing more than he has in recent years. Throughout his career, whether it's been with Ottawa, or his previous team, San Jose, he's typically averaged about 18 minutes of ice-time per game. This season he's up over 19 minutes, and not only playing more in even strength situations, he's also seen a small bump in his power play time.

But no matter what he's done through this many games, his single season shooting percentage has always regressed toward his career average of 12 percent, and unless he suddenly became the best sniper in the NHL in one offseason, that's probably going to happen again this year once he returns to the Ottawa lineup.

What could reasonably be expected from this point on? Well, if he were to play every game the rest of the way (and we already know that's not going to happen, as he's already out for Wednesday's game against Boston and is probably expected to miss Friday's game when the Senators host the Penguins) and maintained the same number of shots per game, and shot at his career level of 12 percent, he would still score an additional 17 goals this season. Even if he shot at the league average rate of 9 percent, that would be in the area of an additional 12 goals. Both of which would not only give him a new career high, it would shatter it. Either way, it's been a career year for him.

But before any of that happens or can continue, he and the Senators need to make sure he's 100 percent healthy and completely recovered before he returns to the lineup.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Jets claim Miettinen on waivers

am1By: Adam Gretz

On Monday the Tampa Bay Lightning signed Antti Miettinen, a forward that had started the season playing for Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL, to a two-year, $3 million contract in an effort to add some forward depth to their struggling team that, after Monday's 5-4 loss to New Jersey, sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

According to league rules, because Miettinen had started the season playing overseas he was forced to pass through waivers before he could officially report to the Lightning. And he's not going to get the chance to do that, as the Winnipeg Jets claimed him on waivers on Tuesday morning.

The Lightning did all of the work, and the Jets end up getting the player.

We saw this exact scenario play out multiple times last season. The St. Louis Blues lost players they had signed on two seperate occassions, one involving Marek Svatos and the other time with Kyle Wellwood. The Detroit Red Wings ran into an issue when they attempted to sign veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov after he was left go by his KHL team only to have the New York Islanders, desperate for a veteran goalie due to an in-season trade and multiple injuries, snag him on the waiver wire. Nabokov then refused to report the team, sat out the remainder of the season, and then finally joined the Islanders this season.

I still find it amazing that the same general managers who refuse to make offer sheets to restricted free agents because of some unwritten, gentlemens agreement have no issue taking part in waiver claims like this. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, as it's how the system works and if you can add a player that you think can help your team, you should absolutely go for it.

After the signing was announced on Monday Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman acknowledged there was a possibility that Miettinen could be claimed by another team, telling Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times, "There's a possibility. We sat around here waiting for a week to see if anyone would sign him. We'll see what happens."

The 30-year-old Miettinen spent the previous three seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild after starting his career with the Dallas Stars. In 472 NHL games he's scored 89 goals, including at least 15 in each of the past four seasons.

During his brief stay with Ak Bars Kazan this season he scored two goals to go with six assists in 20 games before he was let out of his contract with the club.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:39 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Devils acquire Kurtis Foster from Ducks

By: Adam Gretz

With only one game on the NHL schedule on Monday night it appeared as if we were going to be in for a rather slow night. And then all hell broke loose. Fines, a coaching change, and now, a trade.

Less than two hours before the start of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New Jersey Devils announced that they have acquired defenseman Kurtis Foster and goaltender Timo Pielmeier from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for defenseman Mark Fraser, forward Rod Pelley and a 2012 seventh-round draft pick.

Foster is the name that will make the biggest immediate impact with a booming slap shot and some offensive ability from the point, two things the Devils could desperately use right now, currently owning the 26th ranked power play in the NHL entering play on Monday. In nine games this season Foster has scored one goal to go with one assist.

The Devils leading scorer among defensemen is currently rookie Adam Larsson with two goals and eight assists. The only other defenseman on the team to score a goal is Mark Fayne.

This will be Foster's fifth team in the past five years, as he has also spent time with the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ducks. In 74 games last season, all with Edmonton, he scored eight goals to go with 14 assists, which came one year after he tallied a career-high 42 points in 71 games with Tampa Bay. Eight of his 16 goals over the past two years have come on the power play.

He is currently in the last year of a two-year contract that averages $1.8 million per season.

Fraser has appeared in four games for the Devils this season and recorded no points and 14 penalty minutes. In seven games, Pelley also has no points and seven penalty minutes.

Along with Foster, the Devils are also getting Pielmeier, a former third-round pick by the Sharks in 2007, that has been playing with the Elmira Jackals of the East Coast Hockey League. He's appeared in one NHL game.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:16 pm
 

Lightning's Downie only fined for role in scrum

By Brian Stubits

The Lightning's Steve Downie managed to avoid a suspension for his role in a skirmish last week in a game against the Rangers where it appeared as though Downie illegally left the bench to take part. If that were the case, it would have been an automatic suspension.

Instead, Downie told the media on Monday that he was fined by the NHL, not suspended. While he didn't say how much he was fined, the largest possible fine he could receive is $2,500. It's likely that's what he was docked.

For a refresher on what happened, Artem Anisimov of the Rangers scored short-handed and then decided to celebrate by using his stick like a gun and firing at the Lightning net and Mathieu Garon. Here's the video.

The question with regards to Downie became was he on the ice because of a legal line change? Despite not technically being on the ice when the fight began, the league came to the conclusion that it was a legal line change and Downie had a right to be in the game. He was replacing the dinged up Brett Connolly.

Still, the way he was slow to get in the game then react suddenly and go flying across the rink to join the fracas didn't look too good for him, especially considering Downie's less-than stellar reputation.

"It's what I expected," Downie said. "It is what it is. You've got to respect the decision. It's not my call but I expect what he did and what he said."

Sure could have been a lot worse. Judging by past situations with guys hopping off the bench illegally, it was a possibility that Downie could face a severe suspension.

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 10:28 pm
 

Giroux, Bryzgalov injured in Flyers win

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By: Adam Gretz


When we last left the Flyers and Lightning, there was quite a debate raging on about Philadelphia's "stall tactics" in an effort to beat Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 neutral zone trap. Heading into Saturday's rematch the biggest question being asked was whether or not we would see a repeat when the teams faced off at the Wells Fargo Center.

Maybe it was because they didn't want to put their home town fans to sleep, or perhaps because the strategy resulted in a loss and their worst offensive showing of the season, but the Flyers made no such attempt on Saturday on their way to a 5-2 win over the Lightning. For Tampa Bay it was its sixth loss in the past seven games, and while Philadelphia ended up winning on the scoreboard, it suffered two pretty big losses in the injury department as Claude Giroux and Ilya Bryzgalov both left early with injuries.

Giroux, who entered the game as the NHL's leading scorer, had to exit during the second period when he fell to the ice and took an accidental knee to the head from his teammate, Wayne Simmonds. He did not return.  He's been Philadelphia's best player thus far and and an early front runner in the race for league MVP. He did manage to add to his league-leading point total before leaving the game with a pair of assists, including a helper on a power play goal by Simmonds in the second period.

Bryzgalov's injury doesn't appear to be serious and he seems to have been held out as a precaution, and when asked if he's "day-to-day," he replied, "probably hour-to-hour."

It's been a costly week in the injury department for the Flyers, as Chris Pronger and Brayden Schenn are both out indefinitely due to concussion-like symptoms.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 1:52 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Flyers, Lightning meet again

By Brian Stubits

This could be interesting. For people who like boring hockey, this Saturday's game in Philadelphia could be just for you.

Now that we've really sold the game, let me clarify. This weekend the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers will meet for the second time this season. And for some reason, the first game was a bit memorable -- or forgettable, depending on your viewpoint.

Who can forget when the Flyers refused to play into the Lightning's 1-3-1 trap and the Lightning refused to forecheck? What resulted was the biggest stalemate heard 'round the hockey world. Since then there have been discussions about the validity of Tampa Bay's defensive system. Should it even be allowed?

Here's a refresher on what that looked like.

Of course that's all silly talk. It obviously isn't hurting teams from scoring against the Lightning. The Bolts enter the weekend have surrendered the third-most goals in the Eastern Conference.

I highly doubt we'll see a replay of that ugly display in Tampa Bay from earlier this season, especially if Peter Laviolette wises up and remembers he has arguably the most explosive offense in the game. It's not the time to over-coach when you have Claude Giroux on your team.

There were a lot of questions about the Flyers entering this season. Would Ilya Bryzgalov be the missing piece? Can Jaromir Jagr still perform at a high level? (The answers are still undetermined and unequivocally yes).

But the one that everybody wondered about the most was who, exactly, was going to replace the scoring load that was carried by Jeff Carter and Mike Richards? Some assumed it would be James van Riemsdyk, others thought Danny Briere. I think the most popular answer, though, would have been Claude Giroux.

Well those folks were right, but I'm not sure they knew how right they would be.

Not only is Giroux leading the Flyers in points (by 14, no less), he leads the entire NHL in that category, passing early leader Phil Kessel.

It's a bit insulting to call this a breakout season for Giroux, after all, he did have 76 points last season, but it is just that. His 16 goals through just 27 games already brings him within 10 his career-best 25 one season ago. He's on pace for close to 100 points.

Oh, and he's only 23 (he turns 24 in January).

So here's a bit of a plea to Laviolette: let your offense go. Teams aren't having trouble scoring against the Lightning (the goalies share a good chunk of that blame, too). That's a particularly good idea with Giroux around.

Then again ...

"We might sit there for four or five minutes at a time," Laviolette was quoted as saying.

Be prepared for another night of non-action.

Oh my Michalek

Phil Kessel has received a lot of the early season headlines for his goal scoring. Jonathan Toews and Steven Stamkos haven't been getting the same amount of pub, but people know about their scoring prowess too.

Alex Ovechkin has received a lot of talk too, but for his lack of goal scoring.

So I'd like to take this opportunity to take this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, this time on the NHL's goal-scoring leader, Milan Michalek of the Ottawa Senators.

Maybe it's because he plays all the way up in Ottawa. Perhaps it's because the Senators had such low expectations this season. Whatever the reason, the player the Senators acquired in the Dany Heatley trade is blossoming into a major player and there's little attention being paid to him.

Michalek gets a bigger stage to make an impression on Saturday when the Sens will host the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada.

How Wild is this?

The Minnesota Wild are the best team in the NHL based on the standings. It's impossible to give them enough credit right now.

Especially when they head to Phoenix having won six games in a row and completing the California sweep for the first time in franchise history.

Before the season began, how many people really, truly believed that when these teams met on Dec. 9, they would both be in first place in their respective divisions? That's simply ... wild.

Is there any doubt who the front-runner is for the Jack Adams Award in the NHL right now? Sure, Kevin Dineen of the Panthers has to be in the conversation, but as of this moment it's clearly Mike Yeo on the Minnesota bench.

Not even injuries have been slowing his team down. Lose two goaltenders? No problem. Just call up Matt Hackett from the AHL to make his NHL debut and watch him go more than five periods before allowing a goal. Have a defense few people outside of Minnesota can't recognize? No worries. The Wild are still incredibly stingy when it comes to giving up goals.

Pretty soon, people won't be able to ignore the Wild, no matter how much they might try.

Return of the matinee (and Kaberle)

Now that the college football season is done -- seems as convenient a reason as any -- Saturday matinees are returning to the NHL schedule. Last week it was the Canadiens visiting the Kings. This week it's again the Canadiens, this time visiting the Devils.

The game will also be the debut of Tomas Kaberle with the Canadiens. After being traded to Montreal on Friday for Jaroslav Spacek, this will be Kaberle's first opportunity to change the minds of fans of his new team: that he doesn't stink.

That's going to be a hard task, considering the view of Kaberle league-wide is so low. You know it's bad when a GM who signed you a few months ago essentially admits to it being a mistake.

It's also big for Jacques Martin, the Habs coach. The talk surrounding his job security had died down after the Habs had appeared to right the ship, but it's starting to leak again. And with that, people are wondering about Martin's status once anew. Beating the Devils, a team they are battling with at the bottom of the playoff picture right now, would be a helpful start.

We're going streaking!

These are your streaks at play going into the weekend.

Flyers: The Flyers enter Saturday's game with the Bolts having won four straight.

Florida Panthers: People are still stunned by them, and they take a three-game run into Buffalo and then, if it survives, Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

Winnipeg Jets: Yes, another Southeast Division team. The Jets are starting to make a push to stay relevant all season and have won three in a row. Their weekend consists of a game vs. the Hurricanes and at the Red Wings.

Wild: No team is playing better than Minnesota in the NHL. None. As mentioned, they head to Phoenix with a six-game win streak in hand.

Vancouver Canucks: Don't look now, but the defending Western Conference champs are starting to roll. Their streak is three games going into Ottawa.

Los Angeles Kings: They are the only team who come into the weekend with a losing streak in the works. They'll have a chance to snap that against the Stars on Saturday.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 11:35 pm
 

Anisimov move sets off scrum; Downie leaves bench

By Brian Stubits

New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov didn't make himself any friends on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster on Thursday night. Especially Steve Downie.

In the second period of their game in Madison Square Garden, there was a really interesting sequence that unfolded. While on the power play, a Lightning slap shot took down Brett Connolly in front of the Rangers crease, leading to a breakout the other direction. The rush was finished off by Artem Anisimov scoring a goal. The place was excited.

Then all hell broke loose. Relatively speaking, of course.

Obviously pleased with his effort and the go-ahead goal, Anisimov felt like celebrating. That's all fine and dandy, until he decided to pretend his stick is a gun and aim right for Mathieu Garon and the Lightning net. Vincent Lecavalier wasn't happy as you might expect.

The ensuing scrum resulted in four minutes of roughing for Marc-Andre Bergeron, two for roughing on Steven Stamkos, two minutes for roughing on Downie and a 10-minute misconduct, four minutes for Brandon Dubinsky on roughing, two minutes to Anisimov for unsportsmanlike conduct, four for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. Phew!

"It was just classless," Stamkos said after the game. (Quotes courtesy of @AGrossRecord, @DaveLozo, @KatieStrangESPN, @NYDNRangers)

"It's wrong, we all know that," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "It's the wrong thing to do. He's a solid, solid guy who made a mistake. He's not an idiot."

"I guess I'm in a protective mode because he deserves to be protected."

Tortorella went on to say that Anisimov apologized for his celebration and that he'll be available to the media on Friday. Nor did Tortorella blame his former team, the Lightning, for their reaction, admitting that Anisimov crossed a line.

"Artie's not doing it to do anything against their team," Brad Richards added. "Artie won't do that again. He wasn't trying to embarrass anybody."

That would have been the end of and the sportsmanship of Anisimov would have been the only remaining talking point for the next few days.

That's until you see the replay again and wonder, where did Downie come from to join that scrum? That's right, the bench. That means an automatic suspension is coming his way -- if it's determined it wasn't a line change. That could be the one thing that saves Downie if they decide he was coming onto the ice for the next shift after goal, but it sure doesn't look that way.

Eric Godard learned the suspension lesson last year with the Penguins. Making it worse, Downie doesn't have a pristine reputation. Brendan Shanahan might add more games on to what could be a long suspension.

In the end, it was the Lightning getting the last laugh, winning in a shootout after a late comeback to end their five-game losing streak.

But back to the original celebration. Are you OK with Anisimov going gunny on the Lightning?

More NHL Discipline News Here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 7:27 pm
 

Martin St. Louis out after facial/nasal fractures

By: Adam Gretz

Few players in the NHL have been as durable as Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis over the past nine years, as he's missed just two games over that stretch. He hasn't missed a game of any kind for the Lightning since the 2005-06 season, and that streak, which was one game short of 500 consecutive games, is going to come to an end on Thursday night against the New York Rangers.

From Lightning beat writer Erik Erlendsson:

"No surprise but Marty St Louis is not playing tonight, a statement regarding his status is expected from the team shortly."

Here is said statement.

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis will not play tonight’s game at the New York Rangers and he is out indefinitely after suffering facial and nasal fractures at the team’s morning skate today at Madison Square Garden. St. Louis was struck in the face by a puck shot by a teammate during a practice drill.

St. Louis will return to Tampa Bay immediately and will undergo further medical examination by Lightning team physicians when swelling subsides in and around his left eye. A more detailed determination on his return to the lineup will be made at that time.

During the team's morning skate at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, St. Louis was struck near his left eye with a puck that resulted in a nasty cut and a lot of blood. He reportedly needed assistance getting to the team's bench and even stumbled on his way there.

Said head coach Guy Boucher, via Erlendsson, “We’ll see what the extent of it is, but right now it doesn’t look pretty. It just keeps on pouring. We have to prepare as if he’s not going to be available.” That was earlier Thursday. Good thing they prepared.

In 27 games this season St. Louis has scored nine goals and recorded 13 assists.

The Lightning enter Thursday's game riding a five-game losing streak and are coming off a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. If St. Louis can't go they're certainly going to miss his offense as they've scored more than two goals in a single game just two times over the past month.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com