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 hopes preseason wins breed confidence for regular season

Steven Stamkos collides with Panthers goalie Tim Thomas as he gives the Lightning a 1-0 lead in its preseason finale, a 5-3 loss.

Associated Press

Steven Stamkos collides with Panthers goalie Tim Thomas as he gives the Lightning a 1-0 lead in its preseason finale, a 5-3 loss.

SUNRISE — It was only preseason.

Ask Lightning players and coaches to assess the team's 5-2-0 exhibition record, and that phrase prefaced just about any critique.

Still, center Valtteri Filppula said of winning, "It's definitely better than losing."

True enough, but with the preseason complete after Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Panthers at the BB&T Center, it is natural to wonder if won-loss records mean much of anything this time of year.

Training camp is for building rosters, instilling organizational standards and habits, and fine-tuning systems. For the Lightning, it also gave players a better feel for coach Jon Cooper, who enters his first full NHL season with new assistants Rick Bowness and George Gwozdecky.

As Cooper said of the regular-season standings, "I know when I wake up in the morning, we're going to have zero points."

At the same time, "Winning is learned," he said. "We can't predict what's going to happen in the regular season, but we want to build that mentality now."

Especially for Tampa Bay, which has missed the playoffs two years in a row and five of the past six.

The Lightning also is getting younger with players from its AHL affiliate and perhaps Jonathan Drouin, 18, the No. 3 overall pick of this year's draft. With that kind of turnover, believing things are clicking can make the difference between initiating in a game and falling back on one's heels.

"Confidence is so important," Filppula said. "If you are doing good things and feeling good about your game, it definitely carries over. If things are working, you feel more comfortable going into the year."

Saturday's loss provided some comfort and concern.

The Lightning had six bubble players in the lineup and for the most part, with shots 22-22, kept pace with a Panthers team with all its regulars. Brett Connolly and Steven Stamkos had goals to tie for the team lead with four. And Richard Panik's five-minute major penalty was killed off with just two shots allowed.

But puck management in the defensive zone was suspect at times, and the Lightning several times was pinned in its zone. The line of Panik, Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, which has created so much excitement, was a combined minus-7. And goaltender Anders Lindback had two softies among the four goals he allowed, excluding an empty-netter.

Still, said Marty St. Louis, who also had a goal, "It was a pretty good camp for us. … The loss doesn't mean we're not ready to go. We just have to understand how much harder it's going to be. You can't bring an average game in the NHL if you want to win."

In that sense, perhaps Saturday's game will be a lesson learned, not a terribly bad end point to a preseason in which the Lightning tied a team record for wins.

"We're a new team, a new staff. Ask me that question Christmas time," Cooper said when asked if the team was ready. "To get everything going and know what we expect, it takes time, but I like where we're at."

Even at 0-0-0.

Panthers 1 2 2 5
Lightning 2 0 1 3
Panthers 1 2 2 5
Lightning 2 0 1 3

First1, TB, Stamkos 4 (St. Louis, Drouin), 3:45. 2, TB, Connolly 4 (Gudas, Panik), 7:41. 3, Fla, Boyes 2 (Versteeg, Kulikov), 11:33. PenaltiesFla bench, served by Huberdeau (too many men), 8:38.

Second4, Fla, Gomez 1 (Huberdeau, Campbell), 1:19 (pp). 5, Fla, Winchester 1 (Goc, Kulikov), 5:25. PenaltiesHedman, TB (holding), :35; Stamkos, TB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2:04; Gudbranson, Fla (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2:04; Panik, TB, served by Drouin, minor-major (roughing, boarding), 16:29; Winchester, Fla (roughing), 16:29.

Third6, TB, St. Louis 2 (Stamkos, Salo), 2:02. 7, Fla, Versteeg 1 (Kopecky, Barkov), 11:22. 8, Fla, Versteeg 2 (Campbell, Gilbert), 19:00 (en). PenaltiesUpshall, Fla (interference), 11:50. ShotsTB 11-4-7—22. Fla 6-9-7—22. PP oppsTB 0 of 2; Fla 1 of 2. GoaliesTB, Lindback 1-2-0 (21 shots-17 saves). Fla, Thomas 1-0-0 (22-19). A12,547 (17,040).

Lightning hopes preseason wins breed confidence for regular season 09/28/13 [Last modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fennelly: Would you take Jameis Winston over Cam Newton?


    Factoring out futures, it wouldn't be a short list if I picked NFL quarterbacks I'd take right now over Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) calls a play during the first half of Sunday's game. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: What went wrong on defense?


    Greg Auman is back from Buffalo, going back over a difficult finish and tough loss for the Bucs, in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Buffalo Bills tight end Logan Thomas (82) makes a touchdown catch over Bucs defensive back T.J. Ward (43) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Jim McElwain: Florida Gators have received death threats after 3-3 start


    GAINESVILLE - The Florida Gators' 3-3 start is causing some fans to become irrational - even by college football standards.

    UF coach Jim McElwain said there have been death threats made against people related to his program.
  4. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay


    1. Armwood (8-0)

    Up next: vs. Hillsborough

    Jefferson High School running back Niko Duffey is tackled by Armwood defensive end and outside linebacker Fitzroy Gardner during the first half of the Armwood at Jefferson football game in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, September 22, 2017.
  5. Buccaneers-Bills Turning Point, Week 7: How does a receiver get that wide open?


    A lot can go wrong in the time it takes you to walk from your couch to the refrigerator.

    [NFL Game Pass]