Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Conacher shows scoring chops in Lightning preseason loss

NASHVILLE — When C Cory Conacher was reacquired over the summer for his second stint with the Lightning, the thought was he could provide scoring punch to the bottom six.

But Conacher, 26, on a one-year, one-way, $575,000 deal, said he still had to prove it. And Saturday, Conacher delivered the tying goal early in the third period of a 4-3 preseason loss to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Conacher pounced on a turnover in the slot, beating G Marek Mazanec for his first goal in three preseason games.

"That was a Cory Conacher goal — an instinctive shot in the slot," said coach Jon Cooper, who coached Conacher in AHL Norfolk in 2011-12. "That's what that kid can do. When he shoots, the puck has eyes for him."

The 5-foot-8 forward is vying for the roster spot that will be open to start the season with veteran RW Ryan Callahan (hip surgery) expected to be out until mid November. Conacher thought Saturday was his best preseason game. "Just wanted to shoot the puck a little more," he said.

CUT TIME: With AHL Syracuse opening camp Tuesday, the Lightning was expected to make a big round of cuts today or Monday.

HIGH PRAISE: LW Joel Vermin said one of his biggest improvements since last season has been in his reliability in the defensive zone. And his teammates have taken notice. C Tyler Johnson compared Vermin to LW Ondrej Palat, considered one of the league's most underrated two-way forwards.

"(Vermin is) a solid two-way guy, 200 feet (player)," Johnson said. "You always know you're going to get his 100 percent. He's just a solid guy all the way. He's picked up his game a bit."

EASING IN: Much has been made about D James Wisniewski adjusting to the team's system during his camp tryout. Wisniewski, 32, said the main adjustment has been how Tampa Bay encourages its defensemen to jump in the rush, dubbing it "new-school hockey."

"For me it's harder," Wisniewski said. " A couple times I've done something and I'm like, 'Oh, that's my fault.' And they say, 'No, it's a great job; it's the forward's (responsibility).' Just never played that way before. But it takes some getting used to."

NUTS AND BOLTS: G Ben Bishop made his preseason debut, stopping 22 of 26 shots. "A step in the right direction," he said. Three of the four goals allowed were on the power play. He also assisted on C Valtteri Filppula's goal. … RW Jonathan Drouin picked up where he left off in last season's playoffs, looking dangerous on most shifts and getting an assist. … D Nikita Nesterov scored a power-play goal, the Lightning's first of the preseason, on a point shot. "We're going to look for more of that in the future," Cooper said. … F Mitchell Stephens, a second-round draft pick in 2015, got in his first preseason game after being sidelined with an injury. … Cooper said it was difficult to evaluate players when his team had to kill 13 power plays in the past two games. … The Lightning has two preseason games left, Thursday and Oct. 8.

Contact Joe Smith at j[email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
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
Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

TAMPA — When Cory Conacher was called up a little over a week ago, it looked like it might be for just a one-game cameo.Center Cedric Paquette had been suspended for one game for boarding, and the Lightning, otherwise healthy up front, needed a fill-...
Published: 12/09/17
Another test tonight for Lightning

Another test tonight for Lightning

Big one tonight at Amalie Arena as the Lightning finish off its four-game homestand against the visiting Jets, who at one point earlier this week were tied with the Lightning (20-6-2, 42 points) for the NHL lead in points.Since then, the Jets (17-8-4...
Published: 12/09/17
Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

TAMPA — When Cory Conacher was called up a little over a week ago, it looked like it might be for just a one-game cameo.Center Cedric Paquette had been suspended for one game for boarding, and the Lightning, otherwise healthy up front, needed a fill-...
Published: 12/09/17
Steven Stamkos’ toughest rehab leads to his greatest hockey

Steven Stamkos’ toughest rehab leads to his greatest hockey

TAMPA — Steven Stamkos picked up steam near the Lightning blue line early in Thursday’s first period.By the time the captain reached center ice, he was seemingly at warp speed. Stamkos, 27, chasing a Vladislav Namestnikov pass off the boards, split t...
Published: 12/08/17