Cory Conacher has been the biggest surprise for the Lightning so far in this abbreviated season. Conacher scored the eventual game winner in last night’s (1/22) game against the Hurricanes to bring his points streak to three games. The rookie tallied his first assist, and then his first goal on January 19 versus the rival Capitals, had 2 assists in a 4-3 loss Monday (1/21) against the Islanders, and added a goal yesterday. Playing in the AHL for the Norfolk Admirals, Conacher recorded 39 goals and 41 assists in 75 games while scoring 2 goals and 13 assists in 18 playoff games. This year with the Syracuse Crunch, Conacher tallied 12 goals and 16 assists in 36 games. The experience in the minor league system has paid off so far for him in three games with the Lightning.
Conacher has spent the majority of his time playing with Teddy Purcell and Vincent Lecavalier, but Monday Guy Boucher placed the rookie on a line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The amount of speed on that line is equal to no other, and it nearly led to a 4 goal comeback. Conacher fit in perfectly with veteran St. Louis and superstar Stamkos, which is definitely a good sign. With Boucher coaching the team, lines are never stagnant. Certain players will be mixed and thrown out on the ice with different players in different situations, so it is highly important for every player to be adaptive and for the entire team to have good chemistry with players outside of their usual linemates. Guy Boucher said this on Conacher following the first game on the 19th:
He fits right in. This guy is ready. It’s not a project and he’s ready to go. He’s got speed, he made some terrific plays, scored a goal and deserved it. – Guy Boucher on Cory Conacher
Conacher fits right into the system employed with the Lightning by coach Boucher, and this is definitely a good sign for other prospects coming up through the AHL into the NHL. Players like Brett Connolly, Mike Angelidis, J.T. Brown and J.T. Wyman have already made appearances with the Lightning. While they were all sent back down to the AHL, they all made impressive first impressions. Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Keith Aulie also spent time in the AHL during the lockout, and have also performed up to par. With the Admirals ending the season on a phenomenal run eventually winning the Calder Cup, it seems rather obvious now that the Lightning organization has a solid game plan for developing prospects.
(All Syracuse Crunch player stats can be found here.)
Boucher’s comments on Conacher: Cory Conacher: My First Goal
Follow me on Twitter: @Gabriel0430