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Lightning will need speed on 'measuring stick' trip

"We need to win battles," Brian Boyle said. "When we have the puck, we're a fast team. When you're playing defense, it's hard to be a fast team."

AP photo

"We need to win battles," Brian Boyle said. "When we have the puck, we're a fast team. When you're playing defense, it's hard to be a fast team."

20

October

While the Lightning has found ways to win early this season, it has not played its best hockey.

That'll be the challlenge on this four-game road trip, which begins tonight against the Predators, facing four playoff teams from the Central Division, including the defending champion Blackhawks Saturday.

"I don't think we've played particularly great," wing Alex Killorn said. "This is going to be somewhat of a measuring stick."

Of all the things that has plagued Tampa Bay (4-2), from lack of structure to turnovers to leaky penalty kill, one key aspect missing, coach Jon Cooper says, is their identity.

"We've got to play the game faster," Cooper said. "That's one thing that's kind of been a trademark of ours is our speed. I can't sit here and say we've shown that off in the start of the season. We're just playing a little bit tentative on our forecheck, just things that have been our go-to's we're just not quite there yet.

"If we want to start taking advantage of these bigger, stronger teams we'll have to use our speed."

Veteran center Brian Boyle said the key is actually having the puck.

"We need to win battles," Boyle said. "When we have the puck, we're a fast team. When you're playing defense, it's hard to be a fast team."

More from morning skate: D Victor Hedman participated in the morning skate and, as expected, will be in the lineup tonight. Hedman missed just one game with an apparent head injury suffered Thursday. "Victor, we all know what he means to our team," Cooper said. "When the big boy is rolling, usually our team is, so good to have him back." G Ben Bishop will make his seventh consecutive start to open the season, going for his 100th career win....RW Erik Condra, a healthy scratch Saturday, will return to the lineup, with J.T. Brown sitting out. It's just part of the rotation the Lightning will have with 13 healthy and productive forwards... D Nikita Nesterov will finish his two-game suspension for Thursday's boarding call tonight against the Predators, making him available for Friday's game in Winnipeg... G Andrei Vasilevskiy will have a key doctor appointment Wednesday, when he'll learn whether he can get off blood thinners. If Vasilevskiy gets clearance, he could begin practicing by this weekend...Lightning lines were back to normal, with Drouin-Stamkos-Callahan/Triplets/Killorn-Filppula-Paquette/Boyle-Namestnikov-Condra.

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 2:57pm]

    

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