Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning defenseman finds his groove

TAMPA — Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio said everyone is asking when he will finally cut his long black curly hair.

"I keep saying, 'Soon,' " he said with a smile.

Barberio, 23, promised to lose his shoulder-length locks once he scored his first NHL goal. But after tallying two Jan. 19 against Carolina — and another Saturday against Colorado — he's waiting to find the right charity tie-in. His first trip to the barber since January 2012 might have to wait until after this week's road trip, which begins Tuesday.

"I'm going to cherish it while I can," Barberio said of his long hair. "I may videotape myself to say, 'See, I had this.' "

Barberio will lose some hair but has gained plenty of confidence in recent weeks. A healthy scratch off and on early in the season, he has displayed more poise and assertiveness on both ends of the ice. As a result, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it has been "really hard" to take him out of the lineup.

"He's not letting the game come to him," Cooper said. "He's coming after the game. He's kind of been back to the Barbs we've seen in the last couple years, really jumping into plays. His timing is right. He has command when he has the puck. He had kind of a nervous game to him probably the first 25-30 games, and I think now he's gotten a little bit of that attitude, 'I think I kind of belong in this league. I belong here.' "

Barberio, who has three goals and five assists and is plus-16 in 34 games, said it has been a natural progression.

"You come in kind of shell-shocked a bit, and you get better and better," Barberio said. "Same thing happened in the AHL, and I feel it's taken a bit longer at this level. There's still a lot of work to be done. But it's fun, all part of the process."

Barberio always had offensive ability. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Montreal native racked up 13 goals and 48 assists in 2011-12 with Norfolk in winning the AHL defenseman of the year award. But it took him 34 NHL games (including two last season) to score, a slap shot from the point. After another against Carolina, Barberio joked his goal Saturday — a deflected wrister that trickled through — might not have happened earlier in the season. But Cooper said he has earned those breaks.

"He's going to take off soon," Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. "He's been showing the last few weeks how good a player he is."

The key for Barberio is finding the right balance of being patient while also taking initiative.

"I think my poise with the puck has gotten better," Barberio said. "At the start of the year, I'd rush plays and get the puck, and I'd think I'd have no time. Where now, I'm picking up the puck, got my head up and taking an extra second. And I'd like to think defensively I've been improving. I'm not the biggest guy. So when I'm playing some big forwards, I've got to make sure my positioning and stick is at the top of its game. It's still a work in progress. But I feel like I'm in the right direction."

Comments
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best coverageThe best football broadcast I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XLIII. That was NBC’s coverage of the Steelers’ last-minute victory over th...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

Expansion Golden Knights pass Lightning for top spot in NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Golden Knights are giving Vegas a great odds-beating story in their first year.The expansion team has the whole league playing catchup.James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored to help Vegas beat the Hurricanes 5-1 on Sunday and...
Updated: 7 hours ago
What’s gone wrong with Lightning?

What’s gone wrong with Lightning?

It didn't take the sound of a door slamming in the dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay felt like it worked hard – at least, harder than Thursday's listless loss to Vegas – yet dropped another ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Ondrej Palat out indefinitely, Lightning calls up two

Ondrej Palat out indefinitely, Lightning calls up two

The Lightning's telling trip just got tougher.Wing Ondrej Palat flew back to Tampa for more tests Monday and will be out indefinitely, a big blow to the Lightning's shutdown line. Palat suffered a lower-body injury getting speared by Minnesota's Jare...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

Mikhail Sergachev gets thrown into the fire for Lightning

ST. PAUL, Minn. — For the first 20-plus games this season, Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness knew "the look" was coming.The other team’s top line would jump over the boards and Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev would peek over at Bow...
Published: 01/20/18
Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

Missing the Olympics a missed opportunity (and misstep) for NHL?

One week from today, Tampa will be the center of the hockey world.The All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. Players will smile for the cameras. They'll put on a fantastic show. Maybe they'll catch a bead or two from a Gasparilla parade.But you ...
Published: 01/20/18
Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

Andrei Vasilevskiy: ‘I have to be better’

The rest of the Lightning players had already left the ice Friday afternoon, heading into the dressing room for a quick change before the team's charter flight to Minnesota.But goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 23, stayed on late, facing about 15 minutes mo...
Published: 01/20/18
Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Keith Harris fondly looks back on some memorable days from his Tampa upbringing when he worked as a lifeguard at a pool next to a Boys & Girls Club. ¶Whenever it rained, he watched as the kids retreated to the safe haven of the club. They entered int...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/21/18