Tampa Bay Times - October 9th, 2017

Discussion in 'VHA - Virtual Hockey Association' started by StamkosFan, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. StamkosFan

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    May 30, 2017
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    Tampa wins their opening match in a shootout
    Dominant performance leads to a 2-1 victory against the Red Wings


    The Lightning team looked quick and powerful as they bombarded the net, outshooting the Red Wings 40-14. It was netminder Sergei Brobovsky who kept Detroit in the game, letting in only 1 goal to record an impressive 0.975 save percentage.

    Bolts' goaltender Robin Lehner did not look too shabby himself though, posting a 0.929 save percentage, allowing just one goal as well. While the Tampa defense was able to limit the scoring chances, most of them were golden opportunities. The Swedish netminder made a notable highlight-reel save midway through the second period, sliding across his crease and stacking his pads to rob Cam Atkinson on a one-timer.

    The first period belonged to the Lightning, as they largely held the Red Wings in their own zone. With just over six minutes remaining in the period, defenseman Mike Green slid the puck along the boards to center Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who fired the puck at the net from a subpar angle. Brobovsky deflected it away, but it bounced right to the stick of winger Mats Zuccarello, who was waiting unattended in the slot to finish the job.

    "All I can do is try to be at the right place at the right time, and to seize my opportunities. Getting our first goal of the regular season feels good," said Zuccarello.

    The Red Wings gained some momentum after a power play. Alexander Wennberg sped past the benches, brushed up against the boards en route to the faceoff dot, and then fired a slapshot under the blocker of Robin Lehner. The puck collided with the netting, and the game was tied.

    The two teams remained locked in a stalemate all the way to a shootout, which is a new feature in the league. The shootout was a drawn-out procession, with neither team able to score for twelve rounds. The Bolts found an unexpected hero in round 13, with defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk faking a five-hole shot and then tucking the puck under Brobovsky's glove. Lehner clinched the two points with a pad save on Josh Anderson, and the Lightning bench erupted in celebration.

    "That was a long shootout, and it could have easily gone either way. I wanted to be the guy to step up; I'm new to this team, and I'm motivated to contribute as much as I can to our success," said Trevor Van Riemsdyk.

    Tampa started seven defensemen in their inaugural outing, a rare move in the VHA, but one that Lindsay previously did in 2016 by starting Klas Dahlbeck on the wing. The Bolts GM did not explain her rationale, but did make a brief comment to the press when asked.

    "Why are six defensemen afraid of seven? Because seven, eight, nine!" Lindsay quipped, to only a few awkward coughs from the reporters present. "No? Well, okay."

    Jake Dotchin, Lukas Sedlak, and Cedric Paquette were healthy scratches.

    Charlie McAvoy makes the Lightning out of camp
    Young defenseman impresses and wins the final roster spot

    Charlie McAvoy is well-known to be a talented player, but he was forecasted, even by an August Lightning press release, to start the year in Syracruse. Jordan Oesterle or Paul LaDue, both of whom are not waiver exempt, were predicted to be the eighth defenseman on the squad.

    However, McAvoy excelled on the special teams units in preseason; his quick skating and crisp passes were on full display. While he didn't tally any points, he showed a vicious slap shot and solid instincts. The rookie's prowess wowed the coaching staff, and so he would be in the Lightning lineup from day 1 rather than with the Crunch. LaDue and Oesterle were waived to the minors instead, with LaDue being claimed by the Los Angeles Kings. Now, Charlie's competition is with Slater Koekkoek for who will be paired with Trevor Van Riemsdyk.

    Earning top minutes in Syracruse, of course, is more beneficial to a young player than sitting in the press box. With Tampa placing more experienced players on waivers to keep McAvoy up, they have only reinforced that their intention is to give him as much playing time as possible. He registered 12:13 of playing time in his VHA debut, looking natural on the ice. The answer to which one of Koekkoek or McAvoy will get the starting nod appears to be both of them, for now.

    Could Charlie get the nine-game look and then be sent down? While it was not ruled out, Lindsay seems to think it unlikely.

    "That's a possibility, of course, but I see him as the type of player that once he's earned that spot, he's never going to let it go. Quite frankly, he's too good for the AHL. We expect big things this year, maybe even Calder contention," said Tampa GM Lindsay.

    Quick Strikes: Miscellaneous Franchise News
    Los Angeles Kings claim Paul LaDue from waivers; Lightning sign Brandon Pirri as a depth center
    • Los Angeles Kings acquire defenseman Paul LaDue off of the waiver wire from the Lightning
    Paul LaDue was a first-round selection by the VHA Lightning this season, but after failing to make his NHL team or to impress in VHA camp, he was waived to the AHL. The Kings, however, who needed a seventh defenseman and an offensive defenseman, snapped him up as waiver fodder. The Lightning are likely somewhat disappointed to lose LaDue for nothing, but they still have eight VHA-ready defensemen, as well as Ben Thomas and Jordan Oesterle in Syracruse.

    "In hindsight, I would've used my first pick of the 2017 draft differently, but hindsight is 20/20," said Tampa GM Lindsay. "We have plenty of defensemen; I'm not worried."
    • Tampa Bay Lightning sign forward Brandon Pirri to a one-year, two-way deal
    Brandon Pirri was a fixture on the Lightning's third-line last year. While his rating has dropped significantly, and will likely continue to, as he could barely obtain an AHL contract from the NHL's newest team, Tampa has not forgotten what he meant to them the previous season.

    Pirri's road back to Tampa was long and demoralizing. The Bolts bribed Vegas to take Pirri with two tantalizing picks; the Golden Knights would then release him after he was not qualified. The former Lightning winger remained in free agency, generating little interest, but Lindsay reached out and offered him a one-year, two-way deal.

    "This is a depth signing for sure, but we trust Pirri to fill in if one of our guys gets hurt. We're always happy to bring back an old friend," said Tampa GM Lindsay.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017

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