Mikhail Sergachev: 'I'm not afraid to make mistakes'
When Mikhail Sergachev tried to carry the puck out from behind his own net early in Friday's second period, he tried to shake Florida's Colton Sceviour with a familiar move.
"In juniors, I'd slow down, he'd slow down and then I'd start skating," Sergachev said. "(Scevior) didn't slow down."
Scevior stripped the puck from Sergachev for a great scoring chance, drawing a hooking penalty from the 19-year-old rookie. "Those are mistakes that 30 year-olds make," coach Jon Cooper said.
But it was a mistake Sergachev learned from, having an otherwise impressive Lightning debut. He racked up a team-high matching four shots in 16 minutes of ice time. The fact Sergachev felt so comfortable is that the Lightning coaches encouraged him to play his game.
"(Cooper) talked to me and said, 'We don't care if you make mistakes, it's just if you work hard or not,'' Sergachev said. "I'm not afraid to make mistakes, because if you are, you make a lot of them. I just try to play my game and if I have a chance to create something, I try to."
Cooper said Sergachev exceeded their expectations Friday, impressed by how the Russian didn't shy away (including in a first-period scuffle with Vincent Trocheck), had a shoot-first mentality and played with confidence. "You want to have guys back there that do that," Cooper said.
Veteran Anton Stralman, Sergachev's defense partner, liked the rookie's poise in just his fifth NHL regular season game.
"I think he handled himself well," Stralman said. "It's always tough duuring a home opener, first game with a new team. It's intimidating coming in, a young 'D,' from another country, even though he's been playing here. I thought it was really tough when I did it. He did a good job.
"He's a super talented player. I'm sure we'll look at him in a couple years and see a really good player."
Sergachev admitted he was nervous in the beginning, but after a couple shifts, he settled in.
"It's the home opener, a lot of people," Sergachev said. "I wanted to show coaches and everybody I can play at this pace in the regular season."
Sergachev did just that.
More notes: The Lightning held an optional skate Saturday, so the lineup won't be known until tonight. But D Jake Dotchin, a surprise scratch Friday, is expected to be back in the lineup. D Slater Koekkoek, D Andrej Sustr are among the likely scratches... D Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't skate this morning, typically a sign on back-to-backs that he might start again.. We'll see.