Clear70° FULL FORECASTClear70° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Morning notes as Lightning prepares for Game 3 against Habs

"This is a huge game for them. I think we realize the magnitude of coming back in front of our home fans,'' Steven Stamkos said. "We have to find a way to match it. It’s not going to be easy.”

AP photo

"This is a huge game for them. I think we realize the magnitude of coming back in front of our home fans,'' Steven Stamkos said. "We have to find a way to match it. It’s not going to be easy.”

TAMPA – A few quick notes from today’s morning skate at Amalie Arena:

* Although the Lightning is up 2-0 on the Canadiens and has won all seven meetings this season, Tampa Bay doesn’t sound overconfident.

“We’ve got a good chance to take another step,” defenseman Anton Stralman said. “Don’t let it slip away.”

The Lightning expects Montreal to be desperate tonight, just as the Lightning was desperate when it faced an 0-2 deficit to the Canadiens in last year’s first round.

“We’ve been in that situation before,” center Steven Stamkos said. “You want to give your best effort. This is a huge game for them. I think we realize the magnitude of coming back in front of our home fans…We have to find a way to match it. It’s not going to be easy.”

* Stamkos said the Lightning will need to get more shots against Montreal goalie Carey Price than it did in Game 2. Tampa Bay scored on six of its 24 shots Sunday.

“We can’t expect that clip to continue against a goalie like that,” Stamkos said.  …

Full Story

Bishop likely to play Games 3 and 4

Ben Bishop is 6-3 with a 1.71 goals against average, having won four straight starts, including a shutout in Game 7 against Detroit.

AP photo

Ben Bishop is 6-3 with a 1.71 goals against average, having won four straight starts, including a shutout in Game 7 against Detroit.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his team hopes to go "for the jugular" tonight against the Canadiens, already holding a 2-0 series lead.

And, depending on how the game goes, it wouldn't be surprising to see goalie Ben Bishop start both tonight and Wednesday's Game 4; the other option is touted rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who  hasn't played in a game since late March. It would be the first time this season Bishop has played in back to back games, but Cooper doesn't seem to have an issue with it, pointing out the goaltender played on three straight nights in the minors and back-to-back in college.

"This won't be new to him," Cooper said.

After a nervewrecking playoff debut in Game 1 against Detroit, Bishop has settled in, getting better as the postseason has gone on. He's 6-3 with a 1.71 goals against average, having won four straight starts, including a shutout in Game 7 against Detroit.

"He's been outstanding for us," Cooper said. "I don't think there's ever been a doubt in our lockeroom that Ben was ever going to falter for us. So when the stage got to be bigger and brighter, so did Ben. He had to go through so many moments, so many different challlenges he had. …

Full Story

Paquette doesn't want to rush back

Lightning center Cedric Paquette considers himself a "game-time decision" for tonight's Game 3 against the Canadiens.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning center Cedric Paquette considers himself a "game-time decision" for tonight's Game 3 against the Canadiens.

Lightning center Cedric Paquette said while he continues to improve from an undisclosed injury that forced him out midway through Sunday's game, he doesn't want to rush back and make it worse.

So Paquette still considers himself a "game-time decision" for tonight's Game 3 against the Candiens.

Paquette suffered the injury late in the first period Sunday, then tried to play through it in the second before leaving for good. Having practiced in back-to-back days, Paquette has felt better, but is still sore.

And after having an unrelated upper body injury from February resurface in March after coming back too soon, Paquette doesn't want to make the same mistake.

"I think it's the same thing right now," Paquette said. "I don't want to rush things right now, since I did this year and it was worse. So we'll see tonight."

Coach Jon Cooper, as usual, didn't provide an update on Paquette. If Paquette can't go, that might open the door for touted rookie Jonathan Drouin, who  has played in just one game this playoffs (Game 4 against Detroit). …

Full Story

Canadiens' Brandon Prust apologizes for officiating comments

Brandon Prust was given 27 penalty minutes at the end of the Lightning’s 6-2 win Sunday.

Getty Images

Brandon Prust was given 27 penalty minutes at the end of the Lightning’s 6-2 win Sunday.

TAMPA – Montreal wing Brandon Prust apologized Tuesday for his comments directed toward official Brad Watson after Sunday’s Game 2.

“It was an embarrassment,” Prust said of his actions.

Prust was given 27 penalty minutes in the end of the Lightning’s 6-2 win Sunday, after tripping goalie Ben Bishop and getting in a fight with defenseman Braydon Coburn. Afterward, Prust said Watson provoked him and “tries to play God.”

“I regret what I said,” Prust said after Tuesday’s practice at Amalie Arena. “If I could go back and redo it, I would, but you can’t. We have to live with it and refocus on the road ahead.”

Prust publicly apologized to Watson and said what happened on the ice should have stayed there. He’s also privately apologized to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.

“I think he did the right thing,” Therrien said of Prust’s apology.

Prust said he doesn’t expect the incident to carry over into Game 3 on Wednesday night.

“I hope it’s just an honest hockey game,” Prust said, “and we go back to business.” 

Full Story

Cooper: Drouin will play in series

Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will be a healthy scratch tonight, giving him just one appearance (Game 4 against Detroit) in nine playoff games.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will be a healthy scratch tonight, giving him just one appearance (Game 4 against Detroit) in nine playoff games.

The fact touted rookie Jonathan Drouin continues to sit during the playoffs remains a hot topic, especially in Canada.

Even Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman wrote in his column for a French newspaper today that Drouin should be playing.

But Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, will be a healthy scratch tonight, giving him just one appearance (Game 4 against Detroit) in nine playoff games.

“Anything that is probably something the player doesn’t want to hear is a tough call,’’ coach Jon  Cooper said. “We have a pretty tight knit team in there, and Jo is a pretty big part of our team this year. But to tell him to sit out ... it’s tough for everybody (to hear). He’s an extreme talent and he’s getting better and better. This is a learning lesson for him, just as it was for (Nikita Kucherov) last year or any of (those) guys.

“But we put in the 20 players we feel give us the best chance to play, and probably moving forward here he’s probably going to be in that 20 all the time. Just right now, he’s on the sidelines. Whether he has to wait his turn or we feel a matchup is best for him, I’ll tell you Jo is going to play in the series at some point.’’ …

Full Story

Lightning look to grab "stranglehold" of series

The Lightning finds itself in an enviable position, winning the first game on the road in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal against the Canadiens, an emotional 2-1 double overtime victory Friday night.

But Tampa Bay wants more heading into Sunday's Game 2 at the Bell Centre.

"We can really take a stranglehold on this series," defenseman Matt Carle said. "We have a really good opportunity to go up 2-0 and grab two wins out of their building."

The Lightning, which has beaten the Canadiens six straight games (five in the regular season), know Montreal will come out desperate Sunday, not wanting to dig such a big hole heading to Tampa for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Thursday.

Coach Jon Cooper said his team has learned its lesson from the first series with Detroit, where no team won back-to-back games until the Lightning took the final two to claim the series. The Lightning remembers having lackluster performances in Game 3 and Game 5 after wins, both losses, wanting to make sure this is different.

"So now what do you do? Rest on that you won Game 1 and get the split?" Cooper said. "Or go for the throat and take them both. That's been talked about a lot in the room." …

Full Story

Lightning return to "scene of the crime"

The Lightning comes in confident, and also focused, captain Steven Stamkos said.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The Lightning comes in confident, and also focused, captain Steven Stamkos said.

It didn't take Lightning coach Jon Cooper long to address the elephant in the room at the Bell Centre, opening his pre-game press conference with this:

"Back to the scene of the crime, a year later?" Cooper quipped.

The Lightning's season ended here stunningly last April, getting swept in the first round by the Canadiens. Tampa Bay hasn't been playing up the revenge card, pointing out how its a much different team than the one that lost last year. Just look at the handful of new players in the lineup, especially goalie Ben Bishop.

"That's a very big difference," Cooper said.

So is this. The Canadiens, which won the Atlantic Division and have home ice advantage, are calling themselves underdogs, per coach Michel Therrien. How did Cooper respond?

"They had 110 points, won the division, have a Vezina candidate, Hart candidate, Norris candidate. I guess if we had those, I'd say, 'Yeah he's the underdog," Cooper said. "But we don't have those."

The Lightning comes in confident, and also focused, captain Steven Stamkos said. While Tampa Bay won all five regular season meetings against Montreal, goalie Ben Bishop said that means nothing. As Stamkos said, "This is a brand new ballgame." …

Full Story

Lightning-Canadiens playoff tickets go on sale Friday

The Lightning will put single game playoff tickets for its second round series against Montreal on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.

Tampa Bay will host Games 3 & 4 next Wednesday and Thursday at Amalie Arena, both at 7 p.m. It will also have Game 6, if necessary, on May 12, a Tuesday.

The same Lightning ticket policy for first round applies in second — those who buy online must have a Florida ID. 

Tickets are available at arena box office, TicketMaster or tampabaylightning.com

Full Story

Niklas Kronwall 'extremely disappointed' in NHL suspension for Game 7

Niklas Kronwall said he hasn’t slept well the last two nights and said it was difficult to hear the decision Tuesday night.

Getty Images

Niklas Kronwall said he hasn’t slept well the last two nights and said it was difficult to hear the decision Tuesday night.

TAMPA – Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said he’s “extremely disappointed” the league suspended him for tonight’s Game 7 against the Lightning but that he put himself in the situation – even if he doesn’t understand the decision.

Kronwall said he hasn’t slept well the last two nights and said it was difficult to hear the decision Tuesday night.

“Obviously not one of the best moments of my life,” Kronwall said. “But there’s not much I could do, really.”

Kronwall was suspended after the league determined he left his feet and launched himself high into Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov. Kronwall said he didn’t think both feet left the ice but nonetheless took responsibility for the action.

“Like I said earlier, I disagree with the decision,” Kronwall said. “I feel like it happened a bit different way than what they feel, but that’s how it is. I did something to put them in a situation where they could make the final call. Any way you look at it, that’s on me.”

Kronwall – one of the league’s top hitters – said he was glad Kucherov was OK after the collision.  …

Full Story

Final Lightning thoughts before Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings

Nikita Kucherov said he feels fine but didn’t say much else about Niklas Kronwall's hit, calling it a league decision.

AP photo

Nikita Kucherov said he feels fine but didn’t say much else about Niklas Kronwall's hit, calling it a league decision.

TAMPA – The Lightning went through its typical morning skate and media availability today before Game 7. A few notes:

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the absence of Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall won’t affect his team’s preparation or game plan.

“For us, it changes nothing,” Cooper said. “Detroit’s going to dress 20 players. My job is to beat the Detroit Red Wings.”

The league announced Kronwall’s suspension for Game 7 on Tuesday night. Kronwall delivered a high hit to wing Nikita Kucherov, with the “significant head contact” coming from Kronwall launching himself into Kucherov.

Kucherov said he feels fine but didn’t say much else about the hit, calling it a league decision.

Cooper said the Lightning will consider using 11 forwards and seven defensemen again. The team is 2-0 when it’s done so this series.

“I think it gives you a different look,” Cooper said. “It gives you different options. I like having the extra defenseman there. I could go down the list of reasons why. It’s not just one.”

Cooper said the Lightning will have 21 players skate during the pre-game warmup and will make a decision on the lineup after that.  …

Full Story

Kronwall suspended for Game 7 for hit on Kucherov

The hit occurred in the final minute of the second period, with Niklas Kronwall leaving his feet and connecting his elbow/forearm to the head of Nikita Kucherov, who went down hard on the ice.

Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/TNS

The hit occurred in the final minute of the second period, with Niklas Kronwall leaving his feet and connecting his elbow/forearm to the head of Nikita Kucherov, who went down hard on the ice.

Update: Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been suspended for Game 7 against the Lightning for charging wing Nikita Kucherov in Monday's game.

The NHL's Player Safety Department announced the decision this evening, delivering a big blow to Detroit, which will be without its top defenseman.

There was no penalty called when Kronwall left his feet and his Kucherov's head with his forearm late in the second period, knocking the Lightning wing to the ice, and dislodging his helmet. But in a video explanation, NHL Player Safety Department states that supplemental discipline was warranted due to the force with which the hit was delivered, and the "significant head contact that resulted from Kronwall launching" into Kucherov.

Kronwall hasn't been fined, or suspended in his 11-year- NHL career until today. Kronwall routinely faces opposing team's top lines and has played more than 23 minutes in each of the last four games in this series. After Monday's game, Kucherov didn't appear to take issue with the hit, saying it was part of the game. …

Full Story

Cooper on Red Wings' interference: "Fight through it, boys"

"Fight through it boys," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is telling his players about the Red Wings' clutch-and-grab tactics.

DIRK SHADD | Times

"Fight through it boys," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is telling his players about the Red Wings' clutch-and-grab tactics.

The subject of the Red Wings' penchant for interference was a hot topic for the second straight day, but coach Jon Cooper insisted it wasn't a plea for more penalty calls.

"You trying to get out, 'The coach is whining for penalties,' that's not it at all," Cooper said. "I'm sure what's going on in our series is going on in the rest of them."

So what is Cooper's message to his team?

"Fight through it boys," Cooper said. The guys in stripes could call one."

Cooper has said the Red Wings commit interference more than any other team, quipping, 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying, They do it to a 'T.'' But when told of Cooper's comments Monday, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock delivered a subtle shot of his own.

"I just think in playoff time, there's no room," Babcock said. "The most determined team fights through. If you're not determined, you can't fight through."

The Lightning hasn't been able to, getting shut out in two of the last three games, and eight of nine regulation periods. It's not that Detroit isn't getting called for penalties, as the Lightning has had 24 power plays, most by any team in the playoffs (but are 2-for-24). Cooper said the Lightning just has to find a way into the "dirty areas."

"You can't avoid it, because if you avoid contact you're not going to get to the net, and that's where we have to get," Cooper said. "In order to get there, contact is going to happen. I think for us, in some of those situations, we need the puck to go off somebody's butt into the net or something like that."

Steven Stamkos said the Lightning has to give the Red Wings some diffrent looks in the offensive zone.

"I know it's tough to do, but we have to find a way," Stamkos said. "Hopefully tonight's position we are in with our back against the wall, we can play with desperation from the beginning. It's not pretty. I know we have a lot of speed and skill on this team, and we want to make some nice plays. But at the same time, we realize that a lot of that is not working against this particular team against this particular series."

And, Stamkos even suggests, when you cant beat them, join them.

"Maybe we have to put that our game a little bit," Stamkos said. " …

Full Story

Cooper on Red Wings' interference: "Fight through it, boys"

The subject of the Red Wings' penchant for inteference was a hot topic for the second straight day, but coach Jon Cooper insisted it wasn't a plea for more penalty calls.

"You trying to get out, 'The coach is whining for penalties,' that's not it at all," Cooper said. "I'm sure what's gong on in our series is going on in the rest of them."

So what is Cooper's message to his team?

"Fight through it boys," Cooper said. The guys in stripes could call one."

Cooper has said the Red Wings commit interference more than any other team, quipping, 'If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying, They do it to a 'T.'' But when told of Cooper's comments Monday, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock delivered a subtle shot of his own.

"I just think in playoff time, there's no room," Babcock said. "The most determined team fights through. If you're not determined, you can't fight through." …

Full Story

Steven Stamkos: I'm not injured

Steven Stamkos hasn't scored a goal in five games this series - talling just two assists - sparking questions about his health.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Steven Stamkos hasn't scored a goal in five games this series - talling just two assists - sparking questions about his health.

Lightning star Steven Stamkos put all the speculation to rest Monday, saying he's not playing hurt.

Stamkos hasn't scored a goal in five games this series - talling just two assists - sparking questions about his health.

"Obviously cause I'm not scoring, people think you're injured," Stamkos said. "That's not the case. I feel great. Obviously everyone is going through some bumps and bruises at this time (of year). But if I had a couple goals, nobody would ask me if I was injured."

With the Lightning struggling offensively, getting shut out twice in the past three games, Stamkos' slump has been magnified. He ranked second in the league with 43 goals in the regular sesaon.

"It comes with the territory," Stamkos said. "For me, I judge my game on how hard I'm competing, the litte things I"m trying to do well. Obviously I get judged on offense and production and that's something I do judge myself on as well, especially when things aren't going well and the team isn't winning, it gets magnified. Hopefully I can break through tonight." …

Full Story

Lightning prepares for Game 5 against Detroit Red Wings

Wing Ryan Callahan has 22 hits – nine more than anyone else on the Lightning.

Getty Images

Wing Ryan Callahan has 22 hits – nine more than anyone else on the Lightning.

TAMPA – The Lightning skipped its typical morning skate before tonight’s Game 5 against the Red Wings. A few quick notes from this morning’s media availability:

* The Lightning admitted to exhaling a bit after winning Game 2 and finally getting a playoff victory. But after the Game 3 letdown, coach Jon Cooper has stressed that he doesn’t expect the intensity to dip, even after Thursday’s comeback.

“We’re coming home,” Cooper said. “This is a business trip for us. Now it’s a best of three. Everybody knows how pivotal getting Game 5 is. It doesn’t mean you’re going to win a series, but it gives you a heck of a better chance.”

* Cooper politely declined to say whether there would be any lineup changes tonight. Wing Jonathan Drouin made his playoff debut in Game 4 and said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be in the lineup tonight.

“It’s just an eye-opening experience sometimes,” Cooper said of a rookie’s first playoff game. “You’re just taking it all in. He kind of went the way of our team. He did some good things in the game. Some things were a little passive in the game. … For a first showing, he showed well.”  …

Full Story