Panik back in the lineup with this message from Cooper: 'You have to bring it every single night'
As coach Jon Cooper said, the Lightning did not call up a player from AHL Syracuse to replace Tom Pyatt, who is out with a broken collar bone sustained Tuesday at Buffalo.
Instead, Cooper just reinserted right wing Richard Panik back into the lineup in Pyatt's spot with center Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn. Teddy Purcell will stay on right wing with center Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.
Cooper said Panik, scratched against the Sabres, likely would have been in the lineup regardless, but acknowledged Panik still is working on the inconsistency that dogged him in the minors.
"He's dealt with it pretty well because he's in the NHL," said Cooper, who coached Panik at AHL Norfolkk and Syracuse. "He was one of those guys, an unreal talent. But he was probably two games on and six games off type of deal. Now, he's reversed that. It's six games on and two games off. It's been a work in progress. But when he's going he can really impact a game. he's going to be a real good player in this league. This is just growing pains."
Panik, 22, has zero points and is minus-2 in two games in which he has averaged 13:01 of ice time, and was moved off the line with Syracuse line mates Johnson and Palat.
"I have to get back to the small things on the ice like back checks hard and play the body," said Panik, 6 feet 1, 203 pounds, who had 22 goals, 81 penalty minutes and was plus-17 in 51 games last season for Syracuse, "just the small things. Focus on it and i can build on it."
"Richard is a high-end talent," Cooper said. "He knows it. We've talked about this. He's new to the league, and whether you're new or old you have to bring it every single night. There are times he's been exceptional for us and at times he hasn't. He's just growing as a young player but not to the point he doesn't belong in the league."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Interesting that the Lightning, despite going 2-1-0 on its season-opening road trip, has not scored the first goal of any game and has not held a lead in regulation play. "The plus is the guys show a ton of guts coming back," Cooper said. "The negative of that is we are down going into the third period. It would be nice to get a game we were actually winning going into the third and to be able to extend and protect the lead." Of not being able to do that, he said, "We're playing with fire." ... In the latest attempt to turn games between the Lightning and Panthers into a real rivalry, the Governor's Cup has been created as a reward to the team who wins the season series. And there is an actual cup that will be awarded to the team with the most points out of the season series. But the program also includes youth hockey initiatives. ... Ben Bishop gets the start in net for Tampa Bay. ... Defenseman Andrej Sustr is back in the lineup after a one-game scratch and will be paired with Eric Brewer. ... Scratched tonight will be defensemen Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie. ... Tonight's game is the first of seven straight at home for Tampa Bay. After a 2-1-0 start on the road, captain Marty St. Louis said the stretch is important. "To come out of that two out of three, you figure you've done the job," St. Louis said. "But if you don't get the job done at home that road trip won't mean much to us. We have to back it up with some good wins at home." ... Of such a long homestand, center Steven Stamkos said, "You just don't want to get complacent. Sometimes you're here and you get into your regular routine. Sometimes it's nice to get away with the guys on the road and change it up. But it's nice to play in front of your home fans and we're going to use that to our advantage." Cooper and Panthers coach Kevin Dineen are friends from their days coaching in the AHL, Cooper with Norfolk and Dineen with Portland. Cooper said their competition will never come between their friendship. "I enjoy his company and I'll enjoy it more when we beat him tonight," Cooper said. Added Dineen: "That's how it is. You cheer for individuals but when it comes match-to-match you're looking to give them a good tail kicking." ... The Lightning has sold about 10,500 full season tickets, the team said. If partial subscriptions are included, the total is 12,500 and expectations are the final total will be about 13,000.