Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Despite injuries, Lightning maintains winning mind-set

There is no doubt the Lightning is going through some adversity with seven players injured — down from nine — including Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Ryan Malone. And its 5-5-1 record entering Saturday in 11 games without Stamkos is a step back from its 12-5-0 start. But an argument can be made that what the team is accomplishing is, in its way, almost as impressive.

Consider the Lightning has eight rookies on its roster and 13 players with fewer than 82 games of NHL experience, the equivalent of a full season. Much of that is because Tampa Bay is committed to building from within the organization. But injuries have forced more callups from AHL Syracuse.

"They're going to call us the Syracuse Lightning pretty soon," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper joked.

That is not to overlook goaltender Ben Bishop, who is 4-3-1 with a 1.76 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage since Stamkos went down. But the poise and creativity with which the kids are playing should not be minimized.

For Cooper, who led most of them to the 2012 AHL title with Norfolk and was with all of them last season at Syracuse before he was promoted, the progression is inevitable.

"I can't emphasize how much you learn in the American League," Cooper said. "But it wasn't only the learning. These guys were winning. That really helps your mind-set. They learned how to be pros in the American League and brought that here. It's going to take time to get the NHL game down, but because of how much we have to play them, the process is accelerated."

Perhaps the kids fade amidst the grind of an NHL season. But you couldn't help but notice rookie Ondrej Palat on Thursday against the Senators setting up Marty St. Louis for two goals with plays of skill and determination.

Hedman and fellow defenseman Keith Aulie went down against Ottawa, and 6-foot-8 rookie Andrej Sustr played 20:51 and was plus-2.

Rookie wing J.T. Brown is a dynamic skater who entered Saturday with 25 shots in 11 games. And defenseman Matt Taormina, in his 50th NHL game Thursday, stepped in after his callup from Syracuse and blocked three shots and had two hits and a takeaway.

"It's probably not an ideal situation," Cooper said of counting on so many youngsters. "But we're going to be a better team for it. It's a little bit of a trial by fire, but so far all the guys have passed the test."

Comments
How the Lightning ‘practices’ without practicing

How the Lightning ‘practices’ without practicing

TAMPA – The Lightning is scheduled to take the ice late Wednesday morning at Amalie Arena to do something it hasn't done since, well, last year.Practice.You have to go back to Dec. 27, the day the Lightning returned from the Christmas brea...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- it’s TV tidbits time

Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- it’s TV tidbits time

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best comebackExcuse Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for getting so carried away that he dropped the queen bee of curse words on live television Sun...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning’s five-day break comes at particularly good time

Lightning’s five-day break comes at particularly good time

By ROGER MOONEYTAMPA — Before the last game on the Lightning’s last road trip, coach Jon Cooper asked his team if anyone was tired.It was an obvious question, given the Lightning was playing the second game of a back-to-back set, had lost 6-3 at Otta...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning’s J.T. Brown claimed off waivers by Ducks

Lightning’s J.T. Brown claimed off waivers by Ducks

Wing J.T. Brown is headed from the Lightning to the Ducks.Anaheim claimed Brown off waivers by Sunday’s noon deadline. He was placed on waivers Saturday to create roster flexibility for calling up players from AHL Syracuse, general manager Steve Yzer...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

TAMPA — Two weeks from today, this city will host its first special NHL event in nearly two decades with the All-Star Game at Amalie Arena. The last All-Star Game in Tampa was 1999. But it sounds like the city won’t have to wait nearly a...
Published: 01/13/18
Updated: 01/14/18
J.T. Brown put on waivers by Lightning

J.T. Brown put on waivers by Lightning

The Lightning put veteran wing J.T. Brown on waivers Saturday with plans to send him to AHL Syracuse if he clears Sunday at noon. GM Steve Yzerman said the move was about creating roster flexibility, creating some room for a potential callup from th...
Published: 01/13/18
Lightning Strikes podcast: How Tampa Bay plans to replace Victor Hedman

Lightning Strikes podcast: How Tampa Bay plans to replace Victor Hedman

In our Lightning Strikes! podcast, Joe Smith breaks down the Victor Hedman injury and why, while he’s out 3-6 weeks, it could be a whole lot worse.Joe and sports columnist Tom Jones discuss how the team plans to replace its All-Star defenseman, and h...
Published: 01/13/18
Jones: Hedman injury another Lightning reminder that winning Cup doesn’t come easy

Jones: Hedman injury another Lightning reminder that winning Cup doesn’t come easy

Nothing comes easy. Not when you’re trying to win a Stanley Cup.The Lightning is finding that out.For nearly four months, things have gone about as smoothly as they could for the Lightning.Best record in hockey. Top scorers in the league. Best goalie...
Published: 01/12/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with lower-body injury

Lightning’s Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with lower-body injury

TAMPA — The Lightning feared the worst with Victor Hedman’s lower-body injury, hoping and praying the franchise defenseman wouldn’t be out long term.So the team — and its fans — breathed a collective sigh of relief Friday when they found out Hedman i...
Published: 01/12/18
Lightning’s Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with lower-body injury

Lightning’s Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with lower-body injury

TAMPA — The Lightning feared the worst with Victor Hedman’s lower-body injury, hoping and praying the franchise defenseman wouldn’t be out long term.So the team — and its fans — breathed a collective sigh of relief Friday when they found out Hedman i...
Published: 01/12/18