Sunday, July 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Fennelly: Which Lightning team will show up for Game 5?

Saturday the Lightning made it safely onto its plane for Pittsburgh and tonight's Game 5 of a knotted Eastern Conference final. No one tripped while climbing the ramp or struck their head going through the door. This is news.

Bad luck seems to stalk these guys. On Friday, during Game 4 warmups — warmups! — Lightning center Tyler Johnson was a bloody mess after taking a puck in the mouth, a Jonathan Drouin shot that bonked off the goal.

Johnson showed up Saturday with a wickedly swollen upper lip. I'm sure it took several stitches and more than one lollipop from the dentist.

Of course, it was also Johnson who played in Game 4 and scored what proved to be the winning goal in a wild 4-3 win over the Penguins. I think it went in off his leg. Okay, maybe the Lightning is a little lucky, too. And it's more than a little alive.

Onward.

Which Lightning will show up for Game 5?

"Well, that's a good question," defenseman Victor Hedman said.

Will it be the Lightning that was battered in Game 3 or the Lightning that jumped on Game 4? Will it be the Lightning that looked bloody marvelous in grabbing a 4-0 lead after 40 minutes Friday or the Lightning that nearly collapsed in the final 20 minutes?

It's Game 5. It's about taking the body. It's about being strong on the puck. It's about going in those dirty areas. It's about not chasing the game. It's about playing desperate hockey. A source close to the team said it also will be very important for the Lightning to keep its nose to the grindstone.

Which Lightning will show up tonight?

"The big change from last game to this game is we realized what we were doing wrong," defenseman Anton Stralman said after Game 4. "The effort level, the battles, puck management … it was a long freaking list of what was wrong. When we play to our potential, we're tough to beat. Just like we have before, we turned the page. Now we have to turn it again and move on from Game 4."

Playoff momentum tends to be fleeting.

Forget game to game or period to period.

Momentum changes shift to shift.

"I think when you start peeling down a series, now you're down to a best of three, ultimately you're probably getting two desperate teams," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't know if you're going to get anyone's B game as we move forward here."

Which Lightning will show up tonight?

The Lightning that gets in Pittsburgh's grill or the Lightning that backs up and plays into the Penguins' swift, potent attack?

The Lighting can win this series with either Andrei Vasilevskiy or Ben Bishop (no status update) in goal. It can lose it with either Vasilevskiy or Bishop in goal.

If this team shows up like Ryan Callahan did 27 seconds into Friday's game with that first goal and the rest of the night with his physical play, it can beat the Penguins.

If Tyler Johnson can take Pittsburgh's — and Drouin's — best shot and still come up big, anything remains possible. A broken mouth isn't a broken wrist, like the one that haunted Johnson and his team in last year's Stanley Cup final.

Yes, anything remains possible.

It still might be an awful good idea to win Game 5.

Back to Johnson's mouthful …

"When somebody came in and told me what had happened, it was just almost one of those, you know, I should just expect this to happen," Cooper said, smiling. "Now the talk is somebody should shoot one in Johnny's mouth in warmups in Game 5, because I thought he had a (great) game."

Which Lightning will show up tonight?

It's worth asking. And answering.

Comments
Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

The Lightning just celebrated its 25th anniversary season — long enough to have a Mount Rushmore.Here it is:Marty St. Louis (2000-14)St. Louis is the all-time franchise leader in points and the only Lightning player to make the Hall of Fame aft...
Published: 07/13/18
Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

The Lightning has completed Jon Cooper's coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday the hiring of Derek Lalonde, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.Lalonde, 45, has steadily work...
Published: 07/12/18
Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

A busy few weeks of re-signing players continued Wednesday, as the Lightning brought back the last of their restricted free agents, signing left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800,000 contract for 2018-19.Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and...
Published: 07/11/18
Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

CLEARWATER — Nikita Kucherov could have waited a year, allowing the demand for a top young NHL scorer to escalate as he hit restricted free agency next summer.But when the Lightning made him an offer to become the highest-paid player in the tea...
Published: 07/10/18
Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

The Lightning took another step toward securing its future Tuesday by announcing that right wing Nikita Kucherov will sign the richest contract in franchise history.Kucherov's eight-year contract extension will pay him an average of $9.5 million star...
Published: 07/10/18
Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

TAMPA — The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes hasn't ended for the Lightning.But the Nikita Kucherov sweepstakes is over before it began.The Lightning has locked up its star right winger. An eight-year extension that begins in the 2019-20 season will p...
Published: 07/10/18
Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

ST. PETERSBURG — When the call from the Hall came, there she was again.The girl with the "I (heart) U Marty" sign, in the newspaper again, this time on the cover of the June 27 Tampa Bay Times sports section. She was frozen in time, doing what ...
Published: 07/07/18
What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris ...
Updated one month ago
The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

He wants to be here.This is the place.In case you'd missed it amid the gloom and doom of a Lightning season that came up short again, there are still people who want to play in Tampa Bay.One of them is Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson of Landsbro, Sweden. T...
Updated one month ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Rick Stroud returns from vacation to discuss reports that the Lightning will acquire star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.He also talks about reaction to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, the Rays' crazy home stand and which p...
Updated one month ago