Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Hurt Hedman leaves big hole for Lightning

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — For injured Lightning D Victor Hedman, missing both ends of this weekend's back-to-back with the Islanders and Capitals is "devastating."

For coach Jon Cooper, it presents a challenge.

"There's no replacement for him," Cooper said Saturday.

Hedman — with four goals, 16 points, averaging 22:22 of ice time and plus-8 — was hurt in the first period of Thursday's 5-0 victory over the Hurricanes and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Neither he nor Cooper offered a timetable for his return.

"Usually I'm a quick healer," Hedman said. "Hopefully, this will be the same way."

If there is a silver lining, Cooper said, it is players took up the slack against Carolina for the two periods Hedman missed.

That said, "You ask (New York's) John Tavares if he'd rather have Victor Hedman in or out," Cooper added. "I'm sure he'd be, 'I'd rather have him out.' (Hedman) can skate, move the puck for us. He can jump into the rush and push teams back. He's a big hole (to fill)."

INTO THE FIRE: The Lightning has had problems moving the puck out of its end, and with Hedman injured, the problem becomes more acute. That is why the team promoted Matt Taormina from AHL Syracuse.

"We've got to be better at breaking pucks out of our end, and he's good at that," Cooper said of the defenseman who played 47 games for the Devils from 2010-12. "He can play that steady role for us, eat up some minutes, and he can keep up with the guys in this league."

It helps that Taormina finally is over a lower-back injury sustained in January at training camp. He was out until March 2. "I just fell wrong," Taormina said. "It was one of those weird injuries. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know how or when you're going to come back or what you need to do about it."

PRICE PAID: C Nate Thompson played against the Islanders after a two-game league suspension for a head shot on New Jersey's Matt D'Agostini.

"A big boost," Cooper said.

"It was tough," Thompson said of the suspension. "Mostly it's disappointing, because the team is playing well right now and we have some momentum. You don't want to miss out on that."

Thompson, a primary penalty-killer, entered Saturday, his 300th NHL game, with seven goals, 11 points, averaging 14:52 of ice time and having won 50.8 percent of his faceoffs.

HOMECOMING: Cooper, who attended Hofstra next to the Nassau Coliseum, said he would have "a little bit of a crew" at Saturday's game. Cooper graduated with a business administration degree and played midfield for the lacrosse team. "One of my favorite players," said John Danowski, who coached Cooper at Hofstra and is now at Duke. "Through hard work and discipline and attention to details and the fundamentals, he made himself into a good player and helped us build the foundation for a program."

ODDS AND ENDS: After losing 14 of 16 faceoffs in the first period of Tuesday's game with the Panthers, Tampa Bay, entering Saturday, had won 61 of its next 103. … RW Dana Tyrell was scratched.

Comments
Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz — Nikita Kucherov’s toughest challenge isn’t facing Canadiens goalie Carey Price, or Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.It comes in practice against Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I’ve been saying, I thought he was going to be the top goalie in the leag...
Published: 12/13/17
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Published: 12/13/17
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Published: 12/12/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

The Lightning's west coast trip will start with a bang tonight in St. Louis.Tonight's game will pit the top two teams in the NHL, with Tampa Bay (21-6-2) atop the Eastern Conference, the Blues (21-8-2) the No. 1 team in the West.Fittingly, an NBCSN-a...
Published: 12/12/17
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