'The puck's like a yo-yo on his stick,' coach Cooper says of Valtteri Filppula
So much has been made of what the Lightning's prospects have been doing during training camp -- Brett Connolly, for example, entered Saturday tied for the league lead with three goals -- the veterans have flown a bit under the radar.
Not so with Valtteri Filppula.
The most significant addition to Tampa Bay's roster -- who also has the added burden of the perception he was brought in to replace Vinny Lecavalier -- entered Saturday tied for the league lead with four assists, and has been so tough on the puck, coach Jon Cooper laughed when asked to evaluate.
"It's impressive," Cooper said after Friday night's 4-3 victory over the Blues in which Filppula had three assists and won 15 of 26 faceoffs in 21:54 of ice time.
"The puck's like a yo-yo on his stick. He just sticks it out there and pulls it in. He's got really strong balance and is strong on his skates. It's hard to take it off him. You put a couple of goal scorers on his line right there and a lot of good things can happen."
Filppula, 29, who signed a five-year, $25-million free-agent contract, said he is feeling better every day in his new surroundings.
"The more games you get in the more you start to feel better and used to playing again," he said. "You don't think the situation that hard. You are just kind of playing. Hopefully, when the season starts, you are ready to go."
"I've been really impressed," Cooper said. "It's been fun to watch him play."