Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Guy Boucher has plan for quick training camp

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BRANDON — Still no word on when training camp will start — perhaps Saturday, the league has said, or as late as Monday — but Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he has it covered.

"Right now, we're ready for a three-day camp, a five-day camp, a seven-day camp, a 10-day camp," he said. "We got plans for all of them."

The constant is players will spend most of their time scrimmaging. Skating and passing drills? There is just no time with games starting either Jan. 15 or (more likely) Jan. 19, and no exhibition games.

"Chemistry and getting them in game shape are the two biggest things," Boucher said. "I've put a lot of practice parts aside. Scrimmages and game-like simulations are going to be a priority. We've got to have some repetition, but not practice repetition, game repetition."

"That seems great," LW Ryan Malone said. "For guys who haven't been playing overseas, you're not used to that many guys moving the puck around and battling for pucks, so it will be good to have those controlled scrimmages."

A core group of players during the lockout held three-on-three games and did skating and passing drills up to three times a week at the Ice Sports Forum.

"But nothing replicates a game," RW B.J. Crombeen said. "So, trying to duplicate that in a short training camp will probably be the best thing."

CAMPING: The Lightning, which traditionally holds camp at the Ice Sports Forum, has at least considered moving it out of town this year. Orlando and Estero are possible destinations. It also could be at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"Until we know when we will start, how many days of practice and what our schedule will look like, won't make any plans," GM Steve Yzerman wrote in a text message.

Boucher, speaking generally, said he is searching for ways for players to quickly bond.

"You've got to do some team building stuff," he said. "You've got to get the guys enclosed. They have to be together all day."

And that is much easier to do on the road.

TUNING UP: It has been more than a year since RW Dana Tyrell played an NHL game, but after four games with Slovakia's Banska Bystrica, he said his surgically repaired right knee is good to go.

"It feels great," said Tyrell, who had surgery in December 2011 and was cleared to play in November. "It took a long time to get it back to where it was and it's stronger than it used to be, so I'm at the point now where I'm ready to play hockey."

GROOMED: LW Ryan Malone cut his hair for the first time since the April 2011 Cut For a Cure cancer charity event.

Malone and G Mike Smith, then a teammate and now with the Coyotes, bet to see who could grow their hair longest, and Malone's hair extended well beyond the bottom of his helmet.

"We called a truce," he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: About 50 fans watched Monday's skate. Some days during the lockout, the stands were empty. … It sounds as if the plan still is for player development coach Steve Thomas to be in the press box during games as an eye in the sky. How much time he spends coaching on the ice and how he splits time with AHL Syracuse, where he has been during the lockout, is to be determined. … C Steven Stamkos is expected to skate today.

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