Each week this season, ESPN Florida has been highlighting three prospects in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization making an impact for their respective teams. With the postseason getting longer, and therefore fewer prospects from which to choose, we’re narrowing it down from three stars to one.
This week’s star goes to:
Dustin Tokarski, G, Norfolk Admirals (AHL – USA)
Last week at this time, Norfolk goaltender Jaroslav Janus was our player of the week after he took over for Dustin Tokarski in Game 5 of the Admirals’ series against Connecticut. Janus won games five and six and helped propel Norfolk to the conference finals.
Fans would not have blinked if Janus, who was 1-B to Tokarski’s 1-A for most of the season, was the starter for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against St. John’s. But it was Tokarski between the pipes at the request of Norfolk’s Coach of the Year Award winner, Jon Cooper.
To say Tokarski made Cooper look good for that decision would be an understatement.
Tokarski allowed just two total goals the entire four-game series, so add another AHL record to Norfolk’s pile for that. Included in those four games were two shutouts – on the road – in games three and four as Norfolk completed the sweep and advanced to the franchise’s first Calder Cup Finals.
Not too shabby.
Statistically Tokarski has inched ahead of Janus for the AHL playoffs goals against average lead, 1.65 to 1.69. If all Cooper has to do in his coaching career is pick which goalie with a sub 1.70 GAA will start for him, he’s going to get plenty of sleep at night. Tokarski’s .939 save percentage is also tops in the league – he was tied with two others for that honor before Wednesday night’s game between Toronto (Ben Scrivens) and Oklahoma City.
Although Cooper could go back to Janus, whom he singled out after the IceCaps series as being Norfolk’s MVP of the Connecticut series, it’s likely going to be Tokarski in the Norfolk nets next week when the finals begin. Cooper previously talked about the importance of championship experience and Tokarski has won Telus, Ed Chynoweth, and Memorial cups, as well as a World Junior Championship gold medal.
In the next two weeks we’ll see if he can add a Calder Cup to that list.
For daily updates of Lightning prospects in all leagues, visit www.boltprospects.com.
(Norfolk Admirals photo)