Following the postponement of Saturday night's match-up against the Boston Bruins due to a statewide weather-related state of emergency in Massachusetts, the Tampa Bay Lightning hopped on a bus bound for Manhattan to face the New York Rangers tonight, in what would have been the back end of a back -to-back against the first and second seeds in the Eastern Conference from a season ago.
Instead, the Rangers will face a rested Lightning squad that will feature a new face making his Lightning (and NHL) debut.
Killorn, a natural center, will play on the right wing, leaving the faceoffs and defensive responsibilities of a center forward to Pouliot, who will be moved to the middle from the left wing, where he has skated as a middle-6 forward, with Thompson, Lecavalier, and Pyatt all as his centermen.
The opportunity is there, however, for Killorn to permanently seize the third line center role if and when he adjusts to the pace of the NHL.
In this space pre-season, the third line center role was the one with the most question marks trying to project after Dominic Moore was shipped off to San Jose.
Nate Thompson seemed ill-suited for the role, and though Pouliot will play at center tonight acquiring him from the Boston Bruins didn't seem like a permanent answer to that particular hole on the roster.
Killorn was my prediction for the AHL Syracuse Crunch player to make the jump out of training camp due to his size (6'2", 205 pounds) and the success at which he moved from the college game where he played at Harvard (about 40 games per year) to professional hockey (82 games) as he was a key contributor in the Lightning's former AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals' Calder Cup winning season a year ago.
Killorn, however, wasn't even invited to camp, and AHL MVP Cory Conacher seized a top-6 role instead.
But, with a desire to get stronger and bigger up front, Lightning forward Dana Tyrell (drafted a mere 30 spots head of Killorn in 2007 by Tampa Bay) was placed on waivers in order to be sent down to Syracuse, and Killorn was held out of Syrcause's Saturday night tilt with Albany, indicating his call-up was forthcoming. Syracuse Crunch GM Julien BriseBois via the guys at BoltProspects:
BB: Yzerman wanted more size in top-9 forwards. Hoping AK can help.
— Bolt Prospects(@BoltProspects) February 10, 2013
Also, via Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune:
Garon in net, Killorn to start on 3rd line; Labrie, Mikkelson, Bergeron out #tblightning
— Erik Erlendsson (@erlendssonTBO) February 10, 2013
The preseason explanation for keeping Pierre-Cedric Labrie with the Lightning was to make the Bolts a bigger and better road team. While Labrie has been serviceable in limited action as a bottom-6 forward, he hasn't done much to carve out a permanent role yet.
Killorn will get his chance to do just that tonight at one of the most intimidating venues in sports — Madison Square Garden.
As noted above, Mathieu Garon will get the start in net for the Lightning, likely because of his strong effort against them earlier in the season in Tampa Bay. He took a 3-2 loss but allowed only 3 goals on 30 shots and kept the Bolts in the game.
The puck drops at 7:30 PM EST.
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