Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning, Red Wings coaches longtime friends, supporters

TAMPA — The Lightning's Jon Cooper and the Red Wings' Jeff Blashill know their teams are fighting for the same playoff spots in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

But the coaches — and longtime friends — have also helped each other along the way. Blashill, in his first year as an NHL coach, said he has sometimes leaned on Cooper for advice.

"I talk to 'Coop' a lot. We bounce off each other a lot," Blashill said before Wednesday's game between the teams. "Our friendship goes beyond the two jobs we currently hold. We've been friends a long time. I think we help each other in our coaching careers, whether it's been through advice, whether it's been learning from each other.

"I know I've learned a lot from him, both from watching his teams play to watching the way he handles his team and from different interactions. Beyond that, we're really good friends. I'm not positive who my youngest son is rooting for (Wednesday), if it's my team or Coop's team. That says a lot about our friendship."

Cooper said that due to scheduling, he doesn't talk to Blashill much during the season, but he chats with him more than other coaches. "Besides the few mocking text messages that come back and forth between us, we haven't talked a whole ton," Cooper said. "But if there's somebody you want to bounce something off, he'd be the first one of my calls. And I think I'd be for him as well."

LINING UP: D Matt Carle and RW Jonathan Marchessault were scratches for the Lightning. RW Erik Condra was back in the lineup. G Ben Bishop started.

EQUIPMENT TEST: Bishop said he enjoyed every minute of his first All-Star experience last weekend and was grateful to share it with a lot of friends and family who made the trip from St. Louis to Nashville. Bishop said he also got to test prototypes for proposed smaller goalie equipment and didn't notice much of a difference. "When I saw it, I didn't even know it was the new one," he said.

ONE-TRACK MIND: Former Lightning star C Brad Richards entered Wednesday with just five goals in 35 games with Detroit and playing a different position, wing. But for Richards, 35, on his third team in three years after winning the Stanley Cup last season with the Blackhawks, sees the bigger picture.

"Three teams in three years, so obviously nothing is as comfortable as when you're on the same team all the time," Richards said. "We're in a good position team-wise to make a run in the last 30-some games. At this point in my career, it's all about getting in the playoffs and making another run."

NUTS AND BOLTS: GM Steve Yzerman will participate in a Red Wings alumni game against the Avalanche on Feb. 26 at Coors Field, an event that precedes the teams' outdoor game. … The Blues continue to be a presence at Lightning games, with director of player personnel Rob DiMaio at Wednesday's game. Assistant GM Marty Brodeur attended the Jan. 23 game against the Panthers in Sunrise. … The Lightning was scheduled to practice at noon today at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon.

Comments
Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

Andrei Vasilevskiy’s dreams are coming true

GLENDALE, Ariz — Nikita Kucherov’s toughest challenge isn’t facing Canadiens goalie Carey Price, or Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.It comes in practice against Andrei Vasilevskiy. "I’ve been saying, I thought he was going to be the top goalie in the leag...
Published: 12/13/17
Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

Switch to wing helps Lightning’s Tyler Johnson

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn’t played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position. But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.Johnson’s assist in Tuesday’s win over the Blues extended his point streak...
Published: 12/13/17
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Published: 12/12/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Published: 12/12/17
Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

The Lightning's west coast trip will start with a bang tonight in St. Louis.Tonight's game will pit the top two teams in the NHL, with Tampa Bay (21-6-2) atop the Eastern Conference, the Blues (21-8-2) the No. 1 team in the West.Fittingly, an NBCSN-a...
Published: 12/12/17
How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

BRANDON — The best team in town had just wrapped up practice. The Lightning had a plane to catch, to St. Louis, where Tuesday in St. Louis begins a four-city road trip that ends at expansion Las Vegas, exclusive engagement, one show a night, unless y...
Published: 12/11/17
All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

TAMPA — You don’t often see a coach making shadow puppets on the wall with his hands at the start of his postgame news conference, but that’s where the Lightning is these days after sweeping a four-game home stand with Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime v...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

TAMPA — His coach says he plays every game as if he doesn’t play his best, he’s going to be sent down. That is not the case with Brayden Point, but who doesn’t want that kind of effort from a second-year player who has more than established himself i...
Published: 12/09/17

Brayden Point scores in OT to give Lightning win over Jets

TAMPA — The Jets saw Saturday’s game against the Lightning as a benchmark game, a way to measure themselves against the NHL’s top team. The Lightning had circled the game, the last of a four-game home stand."It’s going to be a big test for us," Light...
Published: 12/09/17
Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

TAMPA — How about that Lightning power play."Coaching," coach Jon Cooper said before Saturday’s game with the Jets.He was kidding."You always look like a good coach when you can throw (Nikita) Kucherov and (Steven) Stamkos and (Victor) Hedman over th...
Published: 12/09/17