Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Banged-up Kucherov sits out Lightning regular-season finale

MONTREAL — RW Nikita Kucherov was added to the list of the Lightning's walking wounded before Saturday's regular-season finale against the Canadiens.

Kucherov didn't play in the game for what the team dubbed "body maintenance," but he has been seen limping around and missed two games with a lower-body injury in late March after blocking a shot. Keep in mind that C Steven Stamkos missed a practice two weeks ago for what the team called "body maintenance" and a day later was declared out 1-3 months due to a blood clot.

Coach Jon Cooper said he wasn't concerned about Kucherov for Game 1 of the playoffs against the Red Wings, who Saturday clinched third place in the Atlantic Division, on Wednesday at Amalie Arena.

"There are guys that are banged up," Cooper said. "We don't play until Wednesday. … If you can get guys a little bit more rest, especially this time of year, to heal some wounds, then so be it. 'Kuch' is one of those guys."

D Victor Hedman, who missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury, skated again and said he felt well enough to play. But he and the team decided he should sit to make sure he would be 100 percent for the playoffs. "You don't to risk too much before the playoffs start," Hedman said.

RW Ryan Callahan (lower body) missed his third straight game and wasn't part of the morning skate. Though former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk indicated on a WDAE-AM 620 on Friday that Callahan's condition may involve offseason surgery, Cooper said, "Whoever is talking hasn't talked to me."

Cooper reiterated the hope is for Callahan to be ready for Game 1. "I haven't been told otherwise," he said.

Playoff schedule: The full schedule for the series with Detroit will be released today.

DROUIN IT: RW Jonathan Drouin couldn't have drawn up his return to the Lightning any better. He scored the winning goal in his first game Thursday against the Devils, then came home to Montreal for Saturday's finale. "It was a nice scenario," he said. "It's definitely cool." After getting all the emotions — and hoopla — out of the way Thursday, Drouin felt more comfortable Saturday. Cooper sensed a more engaged, louder Drouin on the bench Thursday. "You can see he's getting more confidence in himself," Cooper said. "And when you get a confident player, especially of his talent level, it can be pretty fun to watch."

LINING UP: With Kucherov out, the lines got shuffled, with RW Jonathan Marchessault returning to the lineup and taking Kucherov's spot with C Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat before Johnson left the game injured in the first period. Drouin started with LW Alex Killorn and RW Valtteri Filppula. C Vladislav Namestnikov was moved down to the third line with Cedric Paquette and J.T. Brown. … G Andrei Vasilevskiy started. … G Ben Bishop (@benbishop30) is hosting a Twitter Q&A at 2 p.m. today. Use #AskBish.

Comments
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Published: 12/12/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

The Lightning's west coast trip will start with a bang tonight in St. Louis.Tonight's game will pit the top two teams in the NHL, with Tampa Bay (21-6-2) atop the Eastern Conference, the Blues (21-8-2) the No. 1 team in the West.Fittingly, an NBCSN-a...
Published: 12/12/17
How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

BRANDON — The best team in town had just wrapped up practice. The Lightning had a plane to catch, to St. Louis, where Tuesday in St. Louis begins a four-city road trip that ends at expansion Las Vegas, exclusive engagement, one show a night, unless y...
Published: 12/11/17
All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

TAMPA — You don’t often see a coach making shadow puppets on the wall with his hands at the start of his postgame news conference, but that’s where the Lightning is these days after sweeping a four-game home stand with Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime v...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

TAMPA — His coach says he plays every game as if he doesn’t play his best, he’s going to be sent down. That is not the case with Brayden Point, but who doesn’t want that kind of effort from a second-year player who has more than established himself i...
Published: 12/09/17

Brayden Point scores in OT to give Lightning win over Jets

TAMPA — The Jets saw Saturday’s game against the Lightning as a benchmark game, a way to measure themselves against the NHL’s top team. The Lightning had circled the game, the last of a four-game home stand."It’s going to be a big test for us," Light...
Published: 12/09/17
Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

TAMPA — How about that Lightning power play."Coaching," coach Jon Cooper said before Saturday’s game with the Jets.He was kidding."You always look like a good coach when you can throw (Nikita) Kucherov and (Steven) Stamkos and (Victor) Hedman over th...
Published: 12/09/17

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Jets game

The game drew the hockey world’s attention because it matched the NHL’s top team against a rising team in the West. It was refreshing to see both treat it as more than just another game. The Jets saw a chance to measure themselves against the top tea...
Published: 12/09/17