Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning says better defense is key to better offense

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Saturday's game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins having scored once in each of its previous three games.

It's an unexpected downturn in production for a team that's capable of lighting the lamp even without F Steven Stamkos. It's a funk the team expects to escape. It has a plan, too, which is …

"It's top secret. I can't tell you guys," D Braydon Coburn said Saturday morning.

Actually, it's not a secret to coach Jon Cooper. The way to more offense begins with the defense.

"You play defense, and when you're playing defense as a five (-man unit) and you got good gaps and your forwards are back pressuring, you're playing zone to zone to zone, that's how you create turnovers. That's how you get rushes. That's how you create offense," Cooper said. "It sounds like it doesn't make sense, but it truly does, because that's how it works."

Cooper said trying to create goals off long passes isn't a productive formula.

"We have to play tight defense," Coburn said, "and there's a lot of things that stem from that."

SETBACK FOR CALLAHAN?: F Ryan Callahan, who missed his sixth straight game, told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that his hip, which required offseason surgery, was bothering him. Cooper said the team hopes the rest will prevent the injury from turning into a long-term issue.

"Whether you call it a setback, I don't know what the term is, but we're just not comfortable with him playing," Cooper said. "He probably wants to play a little bit more, but we're holding him back a little bit. We've got to think long-term here, so if we keep him out a little bit longer that's what we have to do."

BACK IN NET: G Andrei Vasilevskiy started for the first time since Dec. 1, when he was pulled after allowing four goals in less than 22 minutes at St. Louis. That came after he allowed five goals in his previous start.

G Ben Bishop started the next three games. He allowed a goal in each of the first two then allowed four during the first two periods Thursday against Vancouver and gave way to Vasilevskiy at the start of the third period. Vasilevskiy stopped nine of 10 shots during the final period of the 5-1 loss to the Canucks.

Vasilevskiy led the NHL in goals against average and save percentage before allowing nine goals in those two starts.

"Young kid, he's still finding his way in the NHL," Cooper said. "But for me he's had way more good ones than he's had rough patches. I think that's a little more indicative of how our team has played as opposed to how our goaltenders have played. I think one is in tune with the other. The goalies have bailed us out a ton this year. We just haven't bailed our goalies out."

CANCER CENTER PARTY: The Lightning hosts its annual Children's Cancer Center party this afternoon followed by the team's holiday party.

   
Comments
Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

The Lightning just celebrated its 25th anniversary season — long enough to have a Mount Rushmore.Here it is:Marty St. Louis (2000-14)St. Louis is the all-time franchise leader in points and the only Lightning player to make the Hall of Fame aft...
Published: 07/13/18
Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

The Lightning has completed Jon Cooper's coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday the hiring of Derek Lalonde, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.Lalonde, 45, has steadily work...
Published: 07/12/18
Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

A busy few weeks of re-signing players continued Wednesday, as the Lightning brought back the last of their restricted free agents, signing left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800,000 contract for 2018-19.Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and...
Published: 07/11/18
Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

CLEARWATER — Nikita Kucherov could have waited a year, allowing the demand for a top young NHL scorer to escalate as he hit restricted free agency next summer.But when the Lightning made him an offer to become the highest-paid player in the tea...
Published: 07/10/18
Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

The Lightning took another step toward securing its future Tuesday by announcing that right wing Nikita Kucherov will sign the richest contract in franchise history.Kucherov's eight-year contract extension will pay him an average of $9.5 million star...
Published: 07/10/18
Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

TAMPA — The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes hasn't ended for the Lightning.But the Nikita Kucherov sweepstakes is over before it began.The Lightning has locked up its star right winger. An eight-year extension that begins in the 2019-20 season will p...
Published: 07/10/18
Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

ST. PETERSBURG — When the call from the Hall came, there she was again.The girl with the "I (heart) U Marty" sign, in the newspaper again, this time on the cover of the June 27 Tampa Bay Times sports section. She was frozen in time, doing what ...
Published: 07/07/18
What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris ...
Published: 07/06/18
The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

He wants to be here.This is the place.In case you'd missed it amid the gloom and doom of a Lightning season that came up short again, there are still people who want to play in Tampa Bay.One of them is Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson of Landsbro, Sweden. T...
Published: 07/06/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Rick Stroud returns from vacation to discuss reports that the Lightning will acquire star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.He also talks about reaction to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, the Rays' crazy home stand and which p...
Published: 07/06/18