Will homestand be good or great? Tonight's game the key, coach Jon Cooper says
The Lightning's six-game homestand comes to an end with tonight's game with the Canucks. At 2-1-2 so far and points in four straight, coach Jon Cooper called the homestand "good."
A win tonight, he added, makes it great: "We can turn a good homestand into a great homestand."
An added element is the recognition tonight of the 10-year anniversary of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship. It is being held tonight with the Canucks in town so 2003-04 Lightning coach John Torotrella, now Vancouver's bench boss, could attend along with 14 other members of that team.
"They'll be good energy in the building with all the old players coming back and the fiery coach that led the tropps 10 years ago," Cooper said. "I think it's pretty cool this whole thing that's going on, so for us to finish the homestand with a win in front of everybody here, that'd be great."
Tampa Bay, on a 5-8-2 streak, has two straight wins and hasn't won three straight since Jan. 19-25. The key in the team's improvement has been a calmer mind-set, Cooper said.
"We're not taking as many risky chances," he said. "We're waiting for the game to come to us a little bit. We're not chasing the game. The one thing we've talked about is don't beat ourselves. That's one thing we've been doing since the Olympic break. We were shooting ourselves ion the foot a number of different ways. Now, we're making teams beat us."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Ben Bishop gets the start in net. ... Center Nate Thompson said he is fine and dandy after not only absorbing a huge open-ice hit Saturday from New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov, but getting the better of the hit as well. "That's always been a part of my game. I guess you would have to call it the reverse hit," Thompson said. "When guys try to come at you, you can try to surprise them and have a good stance and try to reverse hit them." It worked on Volchenkov who ended up not only going down but skating off the ice with a limp. "It's fun when they try to hit you and they get the worst of it," Thompson said. "It always feels pretty good." ... Cooper was really rooting for rookie wing J.T. Brown to score on his penalty shot Saturday against New Jersey's Marty Brodeur. Perhaps it would be the ice-breaker Brown needs as he has not scored in 28 games. But even though Brodeur made the arm save on brown, Cooper had nothing but praise for Brown and how he has played. "You look at everything else he does," Cooper said. "He gets pucks 200 feet. he makes D have to turn. He puts pucks in great areas where our forecheck sets up, constantly hustling. He's a spark plug." And he did set up Thompson's goal against the Devils with a great pass on a two-on-one. "There are times when it's frustrating," Brown said of not scoring. "But you've just got to keep going. If you're getting the chances you're doing something right and eventually it will come." And talk about a good attitude when it comes to his missed penalty shot, Brown said, "If you start saying you'd do things differently then you start second-guessing and thinking about what you're going to do, and that's when you end up fumbling the puck and not getting shots off. A good attempt, he just made a better save." ... If you're scoring at home, the Rangers have gotten two assists out of Marty St. Louis in seven games and he is minus-1. The Lightning have gotten a goal and three points out of Ryan Callahan in five games and he is plus-3. "Fearless," Cooper said of the right wing. "He's not the biggest guy on our team, but for him to play the way he does; there's nobody that steps on the ice in the opposition who strikes fear into him at all. He's always on the right side of pucks. he doesn't cheat the game. He'll take those extra two or three strides to make sure he angles you off. If there's any paint on the ice he like to go to those areas. You win with those guys."