Johnson could return tonight: 'I want to be better'
Center Tyler Johnson could return to the lineup tonight, giving the Lightning a boost against the Kings.
"We're better team with Johnny on the ice," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's playing this week at some point, hopefully it's tonight."
Johnson (upper body) said he's feeling good, and him playing after missing three games is up to the coaches/doctors.
"It's always hard to miss games," Johnson said. "But it's kind of nice to have a break in a way too, I feel a bit refreshed and ready to go. Watching the team battle like they have, it lights a fire under everyone. I want to be part of that."
When Johnson is back, he hopes to improve on a slow start to the season, just three goals and seven assists in his first 19 games. Johnson had 29 goals last season, his first All-Star selection, before racking up 13 in the playoffs.
"I can definitely play better, you always can," Johnson said. "I feel like we've gotten some chances, just didn't bury it. But at the same time, you can always create more, can always do more. So I want to be better, I'm not at the level I want to be at yet, but hopefully I can get there soon."
What's been missing?
"There's a lot," Johnson said. "I think the biggest thing we did last yaer was we played with speed in every aspect of the game. We're not quite up to that level yet, I think we can be, it's just a matter of time in order to have that chemistry, that's moving feet more, that's quickness, a little bit of everything."
Wing Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed) also participated in the morning skate, with Cedric Paquette (upper body) not. Cooper said Paquette's absence wasn't a setback, though admitted he's not sure if the two forwards will play this week. "Day to day," Cooper said.
For Drouin, who missed five games earlier this season with a lower body injury, his frustration level is getting up there. "It's high," he said.
More from today's skate: G Ben Bishop will make his third straight start, having given up just one goal in his last two, both wins... D Luke Witkowski, called up Tuesday after getting reassigned Sunday to Syracuse, didn't mind the whirlwind travel the past two days. Cooper said it'll be a game-time decision if Witkowski said. "This is where I want to be," he said. Stamkos agents from Newport Sports, Don Meehan and Mark Guy, are in town and were at the morning skate today. But they said don't read too much into it, they're here on an annual visit, wanting to watch a handful of clients on both teams, and there's nothing new to report on the Stamkos contract front. Forward Vladislav Namestnikov have stepped up the past two weeks in a top-six role. "He's definitely showing he belongs. He belongs in this league." Ondrej Palat (left ankle) has been skating on his own, with Cooper saying there's a chance he can skate with the team on next week's California trip. "Still a little ways away," Cooper said.