Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning can't afford bad trip on West Coast swing

TAMPA — Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper didn't mince words when describing the Lightning's upcoming three-game western road trip: the team has to get some points.

The teams in the middle of the Eastern Conference are jumbled together with a total of six points separating the fourth-ranked Senators and the 12th-ranked Flyers.

Tampa Bay is sitting 10th with 25 points. One bad road trip or one bad weekend like the team had Friday and Saturday can cause a huge shift in the standings. And while there are 57 games left for Tampa Bay (11-11-3), Cooper wants his team to get on a roll starting Wednesday at Anaheim.

"Everybody is chipping away except for us," Cooper said of his team. "It sure seems like it takes a long time to gain ground in the standings, but it doesn't take too long to lose ground. …There's no woulda, coulda, shoulda. We have to get points."

Special teams hurt the Lightning over the weekend. Before Friday's game at Washington, the Lightning had killed 44 of 49 opponents' power plays in the previous 18 games. Over the weekend, the team allowed five power-play goals and dropped from 14th to 26th.

The Lightning's 22nd-ranked power play hasn't had much of a spark lately either. Tampa Bay has failed to notch a goal with the extra-man advantage in six of its past seven contests.

"You need wins right now," forward Ryan Callahan said. "It's hard to pinpoint one thing, lack of execution, effort. It's everything on the power play right now. It needs to be better."

Tampa Bay could get some help with some injured players returning. Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed) and Cedric Paquette (upper body) practiced Monday and could play by Wednesday. Both have missed six straight games. Tyler Johnson, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, did not practice but Cooper said he is making the trip.

Cooper thinks their return could pick things up for Tampa Bay, who also play Saturday at San Jose and Sunday at Los Angeles. Tampa Bay next plays at home Dec. 10 against Ottawa.

"It seems like when the power play goes 2-for-5, we win 7-0," Cooper said. "When we need the power play to go 2-for-5 or 1-for-4, the game where it's 1-0 or 1-1 (we don't get one). And then you look at the last two games, we outscore the teams 5-on-5 and we lost both games. We lost both games because we gave up power-play goals.

"It seems like when you plug one hole, two more open up in the boat," he said. "There's frustration in the group but the guys' spirits are good. We know we've got a few important players on the shelf that are nearing their way back. Our (AHL) callups have given us a great boost but I think we'll get an even bigger boost when some of these guys come back."

Move: Tampa Bay recalled defenseman Nikita Nesterov and sent defenseman Luke Witkowski back to AHL Syracuse.

Lightning can't afford bad trip on West Coast swing 11/30/15 [Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2015 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves


    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  2. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure


    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston faced pressure on more than 30 percent of his pass plays last season. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?


    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

    The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.
  4. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois


    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.

  5. Kentucky recruit, former Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox among top prospects for 2018 NBA Draft


    Less than 24 hours after the NBA Draft, analysts have already begun looking ahead to 2018.

    Tampa Catholic star Kevin Knox finishes a layup during the McDonald's All-American game in March at the United Center in Chicago. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]