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Lightning journal: Jon Cooper (mostly) agrees with Tortorella on line shuffling

By Joe Smith | Times staff writer
Published: December 5, 2017 Updated: December 5, 2017 at 11:19 PM
DIRK SHADD | Times Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) battles from the ice along with New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy (2) during first period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Tuesday evening (12/05/17).

TAMPA — When former Lightning coach John Tortorella brought some needed levity to talk of line combinations a few weeks ago, it sparked some attention around the league.

"It’s all bull-(expletive)," Tortorella told media in Columbus, where he’s the coach. "I get a kick out of us coaches, we talk about this, that and the other thing. ‘This is what I’m looking for.’ It’s a bunch of bull-(expletive). We try things, and if it works, it works."

And after current Lightning coach Jon Cooper’s line shuffling sparked Saturday’s win over San Jose, he agreed with Tortorella’s assessment. To a point.

"It’s a little mix," Cooper said. "Torts is right in the sense that, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’?" Cooper said. "And when it goes stale, it goes stale. As a coach, you have to have a feel for what guys can work with each other, because not everybody does. But when there’s a time where things have to change, you have to have players understand, ‘We’re not changing because we don’t want to win, we’re changing because we want to put you in the best situation to succeed.’ It happens regularly throughout the year, and this is one of those times for us."

Saturday marked the first significant line makeover for the Lightning, with the once-hot top line of Vladislav Namestnikov-Steven Stamkos-Nikita Kucherov split up. It worked. Tyler Johnson, moved up to the top line, scored twice to end a 15-game drought. Kucherov scored twice to snap a six-game skid.

Lining up

The Lightning kept the same lineup as Saturday, other than C Cedric Paquette in for F J.T. Brown. F Cory Conacher, called up to fill in during Paquette’s one-game suspension, remained in the lineup. He entered Tuesday having scored a goal in each game he has played this season (two callups).

Nuts and bolts

D Jake Dotchin (undisclosed) missed his seventh straight game but practiced in a red noncontact jersey for the second straight day. … D Braydon Coburn (undisclosed) missed his second straight game but is making progress, Cooper said. D Jamie McBain, called up Monday, was a healthy scratch. … You don’t see this every day: Associate coach Rick Bowness sent players off the ice 15 minutes into the optional skate, not liking what he had seen. "Wasn’t going well," C Brayden Point (right) said.

Number of the day

$390 million

Value of Lightning franchise in Forbese_SSRq annual poll, which ranks No. 23 in the NHL but is a 28 percent bump from last year.

NHL Centennial Tour

The NHL’s Centennial Tour will be in Tampa from Thursday to Saturday from 1-7 p.m. in the silver lot, right next to Amalie Arena’s Thunder Alley. The tour is to celebrate the 100-year history of the league, not to mention the 25-year anniversary of the Lightning. There will be a 53-foot mobile museum on display, as well as the Stanley Cup. On Saturday from noon to 12:45 p.m., former Lightning forward Ruslan Fedotenko (left) will sign autographs. The U.S. women’s hockey team will sign Thursday from 5:30-6 p.m.