Success of 'junkyard dog' power play not difficult to figure out, Cooper says
In its past seven games, the Lightning has gone 9-for-29 on the power play. The reasons are not that complicated, coach Jon Cooper said. Steven Stamkos is back from a broken right tibia and playing at a high level and the addition of Ryan Callahan, a player, Cooper said, who is "fearless" in front of the net.
An interesting take since the power play is now without one of its main facilitators, Marty St. Louis, who was sent to the Rangers in the deal for Callahan.
"It's weird," Cooper said. "We kind of traded a passer for a shooter, and it's made a huge difference. Not to say Marty wasn't a big part of our power play. But you put the shooter (Stamkos) in there, and you put a guy in there who is fearless in front fo the net and that equates to power-play goals. Honestly, it's almost that simple."
It is difficult not to notice the difference in stats between Callahan and St. Louis since the trade.
Callahan has two goals, six points and is plus-1 in 10 games. St. Louis has zero goals, three points in 12 games.
"He's a piece of the puzzle that we needed," Cooper said. "I think anybody that looked at our team saw a pretty skilled fast team. He brings another element to us. You lose a premier player in Marty, but we gained one back with Stammer. Then add a mucker that can play right below both dots, and he has the ability to put the puck in the net. He's been a big part of our success."
Overall and on the power play, which prior to its hot streak was on a 3-for-37 skid.
"He's given us a little more balance," Cooper said. "Before we were a little bit more of a perimeter power play. Now we're more of a junkyard dog power play."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets the start in net tonight against the Islanders. ... Based on who came off the ice late this morning, forwards Tom Pyatt, Richard Panik and Cody Kunyk, and defensemen Mark Barberio and Keith Aulie are scratched. ... What can the team do to shake a 0-for-15 slump in shootout attempts? "You just try to win the game in overtime rather than go to a shootout," defenseman Victor Hedman said. The Lightning was 5-1 in its first six shootouts. But it has lost its past three and five of its past six for a 6-6 overall record.The shooting slump has been profound as Tampa Bay has converted just 23.3 percent (10 of 43) of its attempts, 24th in the 30-team league. On the other hand, Lightning goaltenders have stopped 76.7 percent of shots (33 of 43), fourth-best in the league. "Hopefully, we can change course a little bit," center Valtteri Filppula said. "Obviously, when you're not scoring a whole lot in shootouts you're not as relaxed." Said Hedman: "It creeps into your mind that you haven't scored in a while. Just don't be afraid to miss. Just go out there and do your best to score." ... Rookie wing Nikita Kucherov got a monkey off his back on Monday against the Senators with his first goal in 15 games. But Kucherov said the goal did nothing for his low confidence because the goal was an easy tap-in into an empty net and because it was his turnover that led to an Ottawa goal. Asked what it will take to put a smile on his face, Kucherov said, "I don't know, when I play like Stammer, probably, or Sidney Crosby." ... The Islanders are 13-4-1 in their past 18 road games.