Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning power play still needs shots

What exactly is troubling the Lightning's power play?

Even with Steven Stamkos in the lineup, it was struggling, and in its past 14 games it is 4-for-41 (9.8 percent). At 17 percent overall, it is tied for 19th in the 30-team league.

"Probably we don't get enough shots," C Valtteri Filppula said.

Not probably. Definitely.

Tampa Bay's 114 power-play shots are 25th in the league. Yet, its 156 minutes, 2 seconds of power-play time are 11th.

The lack of power-play shots is an extension of Tampa Bay's problem getting shots generally; only five teams average fewer than its 27.9.

"We're not shooting," coach Jon Cooper said. "Sometimes you get time of possession and you're almost looking for that perfect play rather than the old fashioned get the puck up to the point and fire at the net and outnumber them down there."

After Friday's 3-0 loss to the Penguins in which the Lightning had just 21 shots — only five in 4:53 of power-play time — Cooper called on his defensemen to get more shots to the net.

But improving Tampa Bay's power play might be as much a mental exercise as physical.

"We're trying to find the best play instead of taking the second-best and hopefully something good comes of it," Filppula said.

"Sometimes," Cooper said, "you have to convince your guys the goal scored that way is just as effective as the tic-tac-toe, behind-the-back, through-the-uprights (goal). That's what we're working on."

WINNING FORMULA: G Anders Lindback made the most of his last start, making 19 saves in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over the Flyers. But stuck behind No. 1 Ben Bishop, it was only Lindback's sixth start of the season and second win.

"There's not a lot I can do except work hard and try to stay ready," Lindback said. "It's not an easy situation, but that's the way it is. It's my job right now, so I have to find a way to stay ready."

For Lindback, 2-5-0 with a 3.26 goals-against average and a .876 save percentage, that means treating practices as much as possible like games.

"To watch 'Lindy' in practice and how hard he works, knowing his starts might be sporadic, is only going to help him in the future," Cooper said. "Eventually his turn is coming. I have no doubt he will stick with it."

"I think everyone understands it's not where I want to be," Lindback said. "But you can't go around and be frustrated. It's not going to help you be better. It's a matter of keep working and wait for the opportunity."

ONE OF US: There was a nice moment at Tuesday's practice when captain Marty St. Louis gave up his spot in the center of the stretch circle to rookie RW Nikita Kucherov, who against the Rangers on Monday scored his first NHL goal.

"They just told me to go in there," said Kucherov, who in three games has nine shots on goal and is plus-2.

"I like his offensive instincts," Cooper said. "But what impresses me is how hard he is backchecking. I told him, 'If you want to stick around, show me how you can play without the puck. That will make a statement.' "

ODDS AND ENDS: Tampa Bay's eight November wins tied the 2006-07 franchise best. … Sixteen wins and 33 points after 26 games are franchise records.

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