Preseason play 'concerning' for Lightning
Normally, there shouldn't be much to read into preseason results in the NHL.
The regulars don't always play, especially together, with many prospects getting a look.
But captain Steven Stamkos admits he's at least concerned over how the Lightning has executed duddring the first four exhibition games (1-3-1), especially Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Penguins in Johnstown. And Tampa Bay has just two preseason games left, Thursday at home against Dallas and Saturday in Sunrise, before opening the regular season Oct. 8 against the Flyers.
“If we were playing well I wouldn’t be worried," Stamkos said., "But we are not playing very well right now and that’s concerning."
Bad passes. Gaffes in defensive zone coverage. Mistrust between forwards and defensemen. There's been plenty of reasons for it, but coach Jon Cooper said Tampa Bay is giving up way too many goals, 10 in the last two games. And, while Kristers Gudlevskis and Kevin Poulin (as well as recently-released Ray Emery) have played more than starter Ben Bishop, Cooper said it's not completely on the goaltending.
Associate coach Rick Bowness said it's a combination of little things that "leads to a little distrust between the forwards and the (defense)." As a result, "a bunch of ugly goals go in."
"We have a little ways to go still,’’ Cooper said. “I just don’t like the fact we gave up four (Tuesday) and six the (exhibition) before (Saturday). And opening night we gave up two in the last five minutes and one in overtime. That has to be fixed, and it starts with goaltending all the way out. If we are going to go anywhere in this league we have to keep the puck out of the net. And so far this preseason we have not done a good job of that, as well as we should have."