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)

Lightning hopes front-loaded road games have late-season payoff

The Devils get one bit of joy in a 4-1 road loss to the Lightning, which has an NHL-best 62 home wins the past two-plus years.

Associated Press

The Devils get one bit of joy in a 4-1 road loss to the Lightning, which has an NHL-best 62 home wins the past two-plus years.

TAMPA — The Lightning has spent most of the first month of the season on the road, and that's taking a toll.

"It's definitely mentally exhausting," center Tyler Johnson said.

The Lightning, which had a six-game, 12-day trip to end October, opens a long five-game trek today. Twelve of the next 17 games are away from Amalie Arena, making it a telling time for the Stanley Cup contenders.

"If you can get through this stretch of road games and still be in a good place in the standings, you have to think it's better having home games down the stretch than being on the road," coach Jon Cooper said. "If we can weather this storm, it'll bode well for us coming down the stretch."

Tampa Bay has held up, winning three of its first four road games. More important, it has taken care of business at home; it was 5-1-1 entering Saturday's game against the Sharks. Playing most of the second half of the season at home could be fruitful for the Lightning's playoff push; Tampa Bay has the most home wins in the NHL since the start of the 2014-15 season, 62, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

The biggest challenge with all these road games, especially in a schedule condensed because of September's World Cup, is lack of practice time, Cooper said. Just two practices are scheduled in the next 10 days.

"You've got to lean on your leadership group to help get you through this," Cooper said. "Because a lot of this becomes mental. You're really not practicing that often. It's just off day, game, off day, game, and guys have to be mentally ready for this. It's worked for us so far."

BACKUP PLAN: The Lightning had to make contingency plans in June in case captain Steven Stamkos did not re-sign.

And during the one-week window it had to speak with potential free agents, it explored its options. One included left wing Andrew Ladd, 30, who confirmed he had conversations with the Lightning, among many other teams. "Once 'Stammer' signed … " Ladd said.

Stamkos signed an eight-year, $68 million deal June 29, essentially ending any chance the Lightning would sign Ladd. Ladd, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, signed a seven-year, $38.5 million deal with the Islanders.

Ladd has been impressed with the Lightning.

"They don't have many holes," he said. "They're a real quick group that's kind of figured out what makes them tick. A lot of that is being on the puck and using their speed to create a lot. They're one of the best teams because they've done that consistently the last three, four years."

HALL WORTHY: The four-member Hall of Fame class to be inducted Monday — Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov and the late Pat Quinn — is well deserving. But it's still surprising that former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk isn't in the Hall. Andreychuk, who was in his eighth year of eligibility this year, has a league-record 274 power-play goals, and his 640 career goals are 14th all time. His time hopefully will come.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Lightning hopes front-loaded road games have late-season payoff 11/12/16 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2016 6:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games

    Blogs

    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.