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Braydon Coburn excited for 'new beginning' with Lightning

The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Braydon Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs.

AP photo

The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Braydon Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs.

Defenseman Braydon Coburn knows trade rumors are part of playing in Philadelphia, so he had his phone off as he went to sleep the eve of the deadline.

It wasn't until his wife, Nadine, woke up at 6:30 a.m to tend to their one-and-a-half year-old son Blair that she told her husband to check his phone. Coburn, 30, had been traded to Tampa Bay.

"I was a little surprised, I was kind of shocked," Coburn said in a phone interview. "I understand it's part of the business. But it's a big new beginning for me. I'm excited."

The Lightning was searching for a veteran defenseman, and got one in Coburn, the longest tenured Flyer who has played in 614 NHL games, including 72 in the playoffs. Coburn, a left-handed shot, could slide into a top-four role, a solid skater who takes pride in being "hard to play against." He's got one more year left with a $4.5 million cap hit, so he's not a rental. …

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Lightning trade Connolly and Gudas, acquire Coburn

The Flyers' Braydon Coburn checks the Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexander Wennberg into the boards during a game last month in Philadelphia.

[Associated Press]

The Flyers' Braydon Coburn checks the Columbus Blue Jackets' Alexander Wennberg into the boards during a game last month in Philadelphia.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman got a veteran defenseman he was looking for, but it took some late night deals, and parting with a couple players off his regular roster to do it.

And Yzerman may not be done, with the deadline at 3 p.m. Monday.

Tampa Bay traded former first-round pick Brett Connolly to the Bruins for a second-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2016. The Lightning also acquired Flyers veteran defenseman Braydon Coburn, a left-handed shot, for injured defenseman Radko Gudas, a first and third-round pick.

Both deals were first reported by SportsNet's Chris Johnston around 2 a.m. Yzerman confirmed both of the deals, and will likely comment on them more later Monday morning. …

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Lightning players confident even if no trade

Just like everyon else, the Lightning players are waiting to see what general manager Steve Yzerman does before Monday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.

Yzerman is hoping to add a veteran defenseman, saying it's a "50-50" chance. Like captain Steven Stamkos said, every team could use another piece or two to help down the stretch, but Tampa Bay believes it can contend if it stands pat.

"Every team I've been on, you're happy with your group," said veteran wing Brenden Morrow said. "As much as you try to stay away from reading articles, we've heard if there's a veteran defenseman out there, with the injuries we've had, we could make a trade. And we'd be happy to have that. But all we can really control is what happens on the ice. It's not up to us what goes in, what goes out. But we're happy with our group, we're confident with our group."

The Lightning feels its in a pretty good position, second place in the Atlantic Division, five points behind Montreal. It has a young core, including many players that came up together through the AHL. …

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Lightning GM Steve Yzerman: A "50-50" chance he makes a deal

With the trade deadline looming Monday, the Lightning would still like to add a veteran defenseman, preferably a right-handed shot. 

Whether a deal comes to fruition remains to be seen.

"It's 50-50," general manager Steve Yzerman said Saturday.

But with the prices pretty high so far, veteran defensemen like Andrej Sekera going for a first-round pick and a prospect, Yzerman isn't desperate enough to pay more than he's comfortable with.

"I'm not going to force anything," Yzerman said. "We'll do what makes sense. I'd like to do it, but not going to just do it do it. There's deals you'd consider, 'Hey I overpaid, but I had to do it.' I don't know that that player is out there."

The Lightning (38-19-6), which entered Saturday second in the Atlantic Division and tied for third in the Eastern Conference, is in a pretty good spot. It is expecting to get veteran defenseman Matt Carle (abdominal surgery) back in a couple weeks. …

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Lightning goalie Ben Bishop debuts glow-in-the-dark mask (w video)

Ben Bishop makes one of his 28 saves as the Lightning shuts out the Blackhawks with a final score of 4 to 0.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Ben Bishop makes one of his 28 saves as the Lightning shuts out the Blackhawks with a final score of 4 to 0.

Goalie Ben Bishop debuted his new glow-in-the-dark mask Friday night, and picked up a shutout in a 4-0 win over the Blackhawks.

“It’s 1-for-1,” Bishop said with a smile.

 

The mask was designed by Dave Gunnarsson, whom Bishop has worked with for years. The mask originally just had a small Lightning decal that was glow in the dark, due to some special paint. Bishop requested the rest of the mask, which features lightning bolts, get similar treatment, the blue and white popping out.

“It’s pretty cool,” Bishop said. “Not many people have it so it’s kind of fun to be the first, hope the fans like it.”

The mask was inspired by the sci-fi film “Tron.” Though Bishop hasn’t seen the movie, he said he’ll have to. And Bishop was surprised the mask got so much attention on social media after first featured on yahoo.com's Puck Daddy last week. 

“I didn’t know it would blow up like it did,” he said. "But it's fun."

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Video: Jonathan Drouin's "ridiculous" assist makes ESPN Top-10 plays

Center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates his goal with right wing J.T. Brown (23) after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) for the first goal of the game during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates his goal with right wing J.T. Brown (23) after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) for the first goal of the game during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Friday evening.

A few Lightning players have called rookie wing Jonathan Drouin a "magician" with the puck.

Drouin, 19, flashed off those skills with a spectacular assist on Tampa Bay's first goal in Friday's 4-0 win over the Blackhawks. The play even cracked SportsCenter's Top-10 plays Friday night.

"A pass very few players in this league can make," captain Steven Stamkos said.

Drouin, playing on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and J.T. Brown, started the play with a strong forecheck in the corner. It led to Blackhawks' Teuvo Teravainen losing the puck, his clearing attempt hitting the side of the net. Drouin collected it, then made a quick behind-the-back pass through the legs of Teravainen in front to a wide-open Boyle, who put it in.

Boyle thought about coming to forecheck until Drouin buzzed in, figuring the touted prospect would find him. Boyle said he just didn't think it'd be "quite as nice as it was." Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, has just two goals this season, but 23 assists in 52 games, and none were better than this one.

“Jeez. A heck of a play," Boyle said. "A ridiculous play. Pretty much anyone can put that one in.”

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Follow Lightning coverage on ScribbleLive tonight

The Times always tries to bring you the best Lightning coverage.

And, tonight, we're going to experiment with that we hope will make it even better.

Follow us on our ScribbleLive stream, and it'll be a one-stop shop for Tweets, photos and analysis from tonight's Lightning-Blackhawks game (7:30 p.m.), which is sold-out at Amalie Arena. Whether that's updates from me, or photos from our Dirk Shadd (@dirkshadd), we'll try to attack every angle. Post-game, we'll have some videos/audio from the lockeroom. Post comments and interact if you'd like.

Starting at 6:30 p.m, go to tbtim.es/ese to see our coverage.

We'll see you then!

 

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Andrei Vasilevskiy tries new moves in spot start in AHL

Andrei Vasilevskiy got to experiment with some new techniques during Syracuse's 4-3 loss to Rochester on Wednesday.

Getty Images

Andrei Vasilevskiy got to experiment with some new techniques during Syracuse's 4-3 loss to Rochester on Wednesday.

For rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, Wednesday's spot start for AHL Syracuse provided more than just game experience during a long break in the Lightning schedule.

It also served as some key practice. Coming off his worst NHL start, allowing five goals in 18 shots in Sunday's 5-4 loss in Colorado, Vasilevskiy, 20, said he watched a lot of video. And Vasilevskiy got to experiment some new techniques during Wednesday's 4-3 loss to Rochester.

"We lose, but I got good practice," Vasilevskiy said. "I tried a couple new moves in the game and I hope to be ready for the next game here."

When Vasilevskiy's next Lightning start will be remains to be seen; G Ben Bishop starts tonight against the Blackhawks, and the team has just one more back-to-back situation left this season. Coach Jon Cooper said Vasilevskiy will likely play once, or twice a week, depending on the schedule, how the team is playing, etc. Cooper pointed out they don't want to have to "ride" Bishop down the stretch like last season, hoping to keep him "mentally and physically fresh if we get into the big dance."

The backup role, with sporadic starts, is an adjustment for Vasilevskiy. …

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Victor Hedman okay, but Matt Carle still couple weeks away

Considering the limited Lightning depth on defense, it likely caused some concern when top defenseman Victor Hedman left Thursday's practice early.

But coach Jon Cooper insisted it was just as a precaution, that Hedman is expected to play Friday against the Blackhawks.

"He didn't feel right," Cooper said. "But I'm not worried about tomorrow."

However, it appears defenseman Matt Carle is further away from returning than originally thought. Carle, who had abdominal surgery in mid-January, was expected to be back early next week, at the six-week mark. Carle has been practicing the past few days in a red non-contact jersey.

But Cooper indicated Thursday that Carle is still a couple weeks away, making it a mid-March return.

"There's definite progression," Cooper said. "But he had surgery. When you start feeling better, then it becomes a mental thing. I'm still looking two weeks from now until we really get to see when he might be back in."

The Lightning (37-19-6) have just 20 games remaining, with players realize this is going to be a sprint to the finish in a playoff push. …

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Andrei Vasilevskiy back to Syracuse, but probably not for long

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stretches his leg to make a toe-tip kick save against Predators center Mike Ribeiro in the first period Feb. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

[Associated Press]

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stretches his leg to make a toe-tip kick save against Predators center Mike Ribeiro in the first period Feb. 10 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Lightning has sent goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy back to AHL Syracuse for what will likely be a quick stint.

The team confirmed the move Wednesday morning, with no corresponding roster move. Vasilevskiy is expected to start tonight in Syracuse’s game against Rochester.

The Lightning is in the middle of a four-day break after a long road trip and won’t play again until Friday night. The move gives the 20-year-old Vasilevskiy a chance to stay fresh and gain a little more experience while the rest of the Lightning rests.

 

In 10 NHL games this season, Vasilevskiy is 4-3-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. 

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Lightning gets back to work after long road trip

BRANDON – After a day off from its 10-day road trip, the Lightning returned to work Tuesday morning with a practice at the Ice Sports Forum.

“We were above .500 on the trip, and that was a big trip for us,” coach Jon Cooper said. “We’ll take that.”

Cooper still seemed disappointed about Sunday’s 5-4 loss at Colorado but was otherwise pretty pleased with the Western swing.

A few other quick notes from today’s practice.

Defenseman Matt Carle skated on his own for about 20 minutes before practice and participated in some drills with the team (while wearing a red, no-contact jersey). Carle has been sidelined since mid-January, and next Tuesday will mark six weeks since he had surgery to repair muscles in his abdomen.

Cooper said Carle won’t play Friday, but the team hopes he’s ready to return in early March.

“I’m pleased, though, that there’s been no setbacks,” Cooper said. “I think that’s the big thing…Hopefully it’s early March and not mid-March.”

Cooper certainly doesn’t sound as if he thinks the Lightning is in for a blockbuster deal at Monday’s trade deadline. “This team’s not being blown up,” Cooper said. “This team’s staying together.”

  …

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Steven Stamkos plans to learn from costly turnovers

Lightning center Steven Stamkos is one of the game's top stars, and is capable of making a highlight-reel play at any moment.

But after a couple of bad turnovers led to opponent's goals the past few weeks, Stamkos said he's learning that, sometimes, a simple play is what's best.

With the Lightning up two midway through the third period of Saturday's 4-2 win over Arizona, Stamkos took the puck up the boards in Coyotes zone to the blueline. Mark Arcobello stole the puck from Stamkos, going down for a breakaway goal that gave Arizona some life.

"I just have to manage the game a little better in those situations," Stamkos said. "They were kind of pressuring us, and it's still 3-1, just get the puck in deep there. Obviously the intentions were good, you're going to make a play. But certain times in the game where you have to realize you have to make a simple play. As long as you're willing to accept the mistake and learn from it, you're going to be all right, because you're going to be better from that." …

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Jonathan Drouin going through "growing pains"

For the second half of Monday's 3-2 loss to the Kings, rookie wing Jonathan Drouin was mostly a spectator.

Drouin, 19, had just six shifts in the final two periods, playing a season-low 7 minutes, 47 seconds overall. Coach Jon Cooper said he just went with the players that gave him the best chance to win. Drouin has logged less than 10 minutes in three of the last four games.

"It's way different for me," Drouin said. "But it's not like this is the first time it's happened this year. I kind of get used to it. Can't do a thing about it."

While Cooper understands there are "heightened expectations," since Drouin was the third overall pick in 2013, he points out the touted prospect is also a 19-year-old in his first year of pro hockey. Cooper said Drouin has made positive contributions, including 23 points (two goals, 21 assists) in 48 games, and suggests it's impressive that he's in the lineup every night on a deep forward group.

Drouin was given more opportunities earlier in the season, including power play time, but is just going through the expected growing pains now, Cooper said. …

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Matt Carle "on pace" for early March return

Matt Carle, 30, said he's "right on schedule" for the six-week timetable, which would put him back in the Lightning lineup in early March.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Matt Carle, 30, said he's "right on schedule" for the six-week timetable, which would put him back in the Lightning lineup in early March.

Lightning veteran defenseman Matt Carle said he didn't know too much about adductor muscles in his abdomen until he tore them in mid-January.

"I joke around that my abs are too ripped, that's what happened," Carle quipped.

But the injury was no laughing matter, as it led to surgery Jan. 19, forcing Carle to snap his streak of 347 consecutive regular season games played. Carle is on the road to recovery, however, participating in drills with teammates for the first time Monday in Los Angeles.

Carle, 30, said he's "right on schedule" for the six-week timetable, which would put him back in the Lightning lineup in early March. Tampa Bay is in the market for a veteran defenseman, and Carle could be quite the in-house trade deadline acquisition.

"If it's a little bit sooner, that'd be great," Carle said. "If it's a little bit later, you never know. I'm doing all the right things I can. I felt good (Monday) on the ice, hopefully just continue to get better."

Carle said he suffered the injury Jan. 15 against Edmonton on a "harmless play." The puck was rimmed around the boards, and as Carle went to retrieve it, Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave him a "jolt" from behind. …

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Lightning plans to apply to host 2018 WJC

Connor McDavid (17) of Team Canada looks to shoot the puck near Brandon Carlo (26) of Team United States during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

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Connor McDavid (17) of Team Canada looks to shoot the puck near Brandon Carlo (26) of Team United States during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship game at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

The Tampa Sports Commission and Tampa Bay Lightning plan to apply to host the IIHF 2018 World Junior championships.

Lightning executive VP Bill Wickett said they are just waiting to see the request for proposal next month before knowing for sure.

Detroit, Phoenix, Buffalo and Pittsburgh are also expected to apply.

Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has made it clear his desire to host a major event, whether it be an All Star Game or Winter Classic. Landing the WJC, which includes the top under-20 players in the world, would be a nice get.

This past year's WJC was held in Toronto and Montreal, won by Canada.

 

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