Ondrej Palat's excellent adventure from AHL Syracuse to the Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat said he got the call that he was being promoted from AHL Syracuse to the Tampa Bay Lightning after the Crunch had their pregame meal for Sunday’s game at Hershey.
Syracuse had a casual dress code for the trip – track suits, Palat said – so the left wing had to quickly run to a store in Hershey and buy a suit and shirts before taking a car the Lightning had sent for him 3½ hours to Pittsburgh for tonight’s game with the Penguins.
“So, it was a big day for me,” Palat said.
And now comes his first NHL game against the Penguins.
Palat, 21, the 208th overall draft pick in 2011, will start on the third line with Tom Pyatt and Nate Thompson. But he has had zero practice time, though he skated this morning. He has the playbook and had a meeting with Lightning coach Guy Boucher to go over the system.
Good thing he has former teammates Cory Conacher, Alex Killorn, Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Keith Aulie on which to lean.
“They told me to play my game and don’t be nervous,” said Palat, who will wear No. 74, “because I’m really nervous right now.”
Palat, 6 feet, 180 pounds, comes in with some pretty good credentials. He had 11 goals, 44 points in 49 games this season for Syracuse. He had nine goals, 30 points in 61 games last season for AHL Norfolk.
“He has been the most consistent, most complete player the last two years on that team,” Boucher said. “He’s not an overly big player, but he’s strong on the puck. He’s very feisty. His biggest asset is his smarts. He’s always in the right place. He’s very reliable defensively and he’s got some offensive abilities. He has the best mix we’ve seen down there the last two years. He’s just all-around solid in all aspects of the game.”
Said Killorn, Palat's Syracuse roommate: “He’s very thoughtful with the puck. Even defensively he’s not going to get out of position. He’s just very reliable. He’s not going to try to make huge, high-risk plays, but he has the skill to make them.”
And he has a new suit to boot.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, who has missed four games because of a concussion, will play tonight against the Lightning against which he has 14 goals and 25 points in 22 games. “He’s very difficult to play against because he’s like Nash,” Boucher said of Rangers star Rick Nash. “Your system is fine, everybody is in the right position, and all of a sudden he just manhandles your guy and steps on them and goes by them. He’s very difficult to play against because he can beat you one on one he puts a major dent I your plans. And he’s got the skill and we’ve had major problems playing against him.” … Mathieu Garon gets the start in net against the Penguins. Anders Lindback, who has not played since Feb. 24 against Pittsburgh (three goals on 10 shots), plays Tuesday at New Jersey. “I’ve been working hard on details and stuff. It’s been good,” Lindback said. … Still no word on Ben Pouliot’s injury other than it is to the upper-body and he has been wearing a sling on his right arm. Pouliot will not play this week, Boucher said, and probably will be day-to-day thereafter. Boucher said no surgery is indicated. … Left wing Ryan Malone, who has missed 11 games with a lower body injury, might or might not play Tuesday at New Jersey, Boucher said. … Defensemen Brendan Mikkelson and Marc-Andre Bergeron will be scratched against Pittsburgh. It is not clear if right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie will be scratched. … The Penguins showed a lot of love for Steven Stamkos. First Dan Bylasma: “Initially, you’d like to say Steven Stamkos is a pure shooting goal scorer star in our league. I think that’s a misnomer of where he is good. He certainly can wire the puck and can shoot the puck. But he’s tough around the net. He can skate real well and has speed and explosive power in his skating, and he’s good down low.” … And now Sidney Crosby on Stamkos: “He compete every shift and his consistency has allowed him to be successful. He doesn’t need much time or space, especially now. I don’t think you get a ton of chances the way teams collapse and play defense, and he makes you pay every time he gets the chance. … And here’s Bylsma on Stamkos and Crosby: “Steven Stamkos is more of a shooter but Sid’s an explosive guy with speed up the ice and you also see that in Stamnkos. They’re both guys who go around the cage, and they don’t just on the offensive side of the puck and find their offense that way. They go into tough areas and they both can play don low in those areas and are good there. (Stamkos) has 15 goals and 32 points. I think that’s a good number for him to stay at for at least one game.