Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Potent Penguins power play may test much-penalized Lightning (w/ video)

BRANDON — No team remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs has been as good as the Lightning in killing penalties.

Then again, Tampa Bay has had the most practice at it.

Entering Wednesday, the Lightning was the most penalized team left, in penalty minutes and penalty kill time, having spent 7 minutes, 30 seconds more time killing penalties than any other of those teams. That's playing with fire when it comes to facing the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final, which opens Friday. Pittsburgh's potent power play had a league-best 27.5 percent success rate, including two goals in Tuesday's series-clinching win over the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals.

"You can't expect to win on a regular basis by taking a lot of penalties," D Braydon Coburn said. "It's definitely an area we need to correct and continue to go out and do the job on the PK. But it definitely helps when you don't take as many penalties."

The Lightning killed off 35 of 42 power plays (88 percent) against the Red Wings and Islanders in the first two rounds, a success rate that mirrored its regular season, when it was seventh in the league. But the Penguins, with weapons including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, will be Tampa Bay's toughest test yet. Pittsburgh's power play was 11-for-40 in the first two rounds.

The Lightning can't just rely on G Ben Bishop, with a 1.89 goals-against average in these playoffs, to bail it out.

"They've got a little bit of everything," Coburn said of the Penguins. "They got playmakers, they got shooters. They got (Patric) Hornqvist in front of the net. All those different combinations they have make them dangerous."

STEPPING IN: D Slater Koekkoek, who has appeared in four straight playoff games, is gaining confidence, having seemingly moved ahead of Nikita Nesterov on the depth chart.

"The more you play, the more comfortable you are, the less your hands are shaking out there, so it's good," Koekkoek said. "Coaches are trusting me a bit more out there. I'm able to play my game."

Koekkoek, who played just nine games in the regular season, is plus-2 in four games this postseason, even seeing shifts late in close games.

"I'm so blessed to be here and grateful for it," he said. "I never take anything for granted. I'm always looking around and taking in every moment because you never know when you're going to get it back."

PRAISE FOR ZETTLER: With AHL Syracuse coach Rob Zettler fired Tuesday, several of his former players expressed gratitude for the impact he has had on their careers.

"He's a hard-working, honest coach," D Luke Witkowski said. "I valued those three years I was with him. He made me a better player, for sure. He was hard on me at the right times and made sure I was ready for every practice, every game."

Koekkoek, a 2012 first-round draft pick, felt the same way. "He was hard on me," Koekkoek said. "But in the end, I think that helped me a lot. I thank him for everything he did for me."

Zettler has been offered another assignment within the organization, Crunch GM Julien BriseBois said.

Times correspondent Roger Mooney contributed to this report. Contact Joe Smith at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates scoring a goal to take a 1-0 lead with teammate defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) in the first period of game five between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, May 8, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times


Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) celebrates scoring a goal to take a 1-0 lead with teammate defenseman Braydon Coburn (55) in the first period of game five between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, May 8, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Potent Penguins power play may test much-penalized Lightning (w/ video) 05/11/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Commissioner Manfred to visit Trop on Wednesday for Rays-Blue Jays

    Blogs

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is slated to be at the Trop on Wednesday.

    And so is Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg,

    And they are scheduled to meet with the media.

    But before you get excited - or riled up - know it's not to make any big announcement on the stadium or the overall future …

  2. Bucs running back's gamble pays off for his mom

    Bucs

    TAMPA — When Peyton Barber decided to leave Auburn after his sophomore year, with only one season as a starting running back, it was a risky decision, one he hoped would let him help out his family back home in suburban Atlanta.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Peyton Barber (43) takes the field with an American flag before a preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Armwood vs. Tampa Bay Tech teeming with Division I-A talent

    Footballpreps

    Armwood High School strong safety Caleb Sutherland (18) breaks a tackle to score a pick-six during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  4. Bucs bring back long snapper Andrew DePaola to compete

    Bucs

    Just 12 days before the NFL makes its final cuts, the Bucs have added another position battle, signing back long snapper Andrew DePaola to compete with veteran Garrison Sanborn.

    Andrew DePaola is making an impressive recovery from the torn ACL he suffered in last year's season finale against Carolina in January.  [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. My AP preseason All-America ballot

    Blogs

    Now that the AP's preseason All-America team has been released, I'll share what I submitted.