Lightning deficiencies addressed 'with emotion,' Cooper says
The Lightning, playing the second of back-to-back games tonight against the Rangers in New York, did not have a morning skate, but did have a bit longer-than-usual team meeting.
Two topics were on the front burner: Tampa Bay's penalty kill, which allowed two goals in the third period Monday in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets, and the way the Lightning started the first period against Columbus.
After watching the video, coach Jon Cooper said he determined the first four minutes of that game "was as bad of hockey as we've played all year. It got a little better, but that's only because it got so bad it made bad look good, if that makes any sense."
Asked how it was addressed, Cooper said, "It was addressed with emotion."
As for the penalty kill, Cooper was blunt in why it has allowed 11 goals in its past 31 shorthanded situations: "Our aggressiveness we've been okay. I think it's a little bit of think a little smarter. The problem is a) we're not winning faceoffs to get pucks out. Two, when we do get chances to get pucks out, easy outs, we don't get them out and we've lost our commitment to blocks shots."
Not on every penalty kill, but, "You watch the penalty kills they didn't score," Cooper said of Monday's game, "you got guys eating shots all over the place. You look at the two wrist shots that went in, those can't go in. Somebody has to eat those. That's an issue."
Other stuff from the morning meeting:Tonight's game ends an eight-game stretch in which the Lightning played seven on the road, in essence eight games in eight different cities. The plan at the outset was to get at least nine points, one more point than games. With a 4-3-0 record, there is a chance for 10 with a win. "This is the swing game," Cooper said. "We get points out of tonight it's not a bad trip. It's a pretty good trip actually. If we don't get points out of tonight it's just mediocrity. It's .500. But if you would have said at the end of the trip you have a chance to go 5-3 or something like that, I would have said I'd take that all day, and we've got a chance to do that." ... Cooper all but confirmed Ben Bishop will be in net tonight against the Rangers. ... Cooper said Richard Panik will be back in the lineup, though Cooper did not indicate who would be coming out. ... Defenseman Sami Salo (bruised ankle) is out. ... With his goal on Monday, Victor Hedman has nine, which is one off the lead for league defensemen. His 25 points are also one off his career best. "It's a lot of fun to contribute on both ends of the ice," Hedman said. "I worked a lot on my shot this summer and getting shots through. Joining the play is one of my strengths. That's what I have to keep going." Cooper said Hedman is benefiting from Tampa Bay's system, which allows him some freedom to get into the offense. "The way we play takes advantage of a lot of his attributes, his skating, his ability to get into the offensive zone, his ability to shoot pucks," Cooper said. "We don't have him sitting still on the ice."