Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning seeks boost on the road

PHILADELPHIA — When the Lightning opened its road schedule Jan. 21 against the Islanders, it was with a right cross and an uppercut as wings B.J. Crombeen and Pierre-Cedric Labrie fought at the opening faceoff with Matt Martin and Joe Finley, respectively.

Tampa Bay lost the game, but coach Guy Boucher said a message was sent by a team that last season was second-worst in the league away from home.

"It wasn't something I had planned,'' Boucher said Monday about the fracas. "I just felt it was right to put our bigger guys out there to set a tone for the season since we weren't tough enough on the road last year. The message was sent and it's the right message: we're a much tougher team and better equipped to challenge other teams."

Whether the Lightning is ready to win on the road is another story, though we should get a clue during a tough four-game trip that begins tonight against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center and goes through New Jersey, Boston and at the Rangers.

"A true test for us," center Nate Thompson said. "If you want to be one of the best teams you have to win on the road."

Tampa Bay's road woes last season were curious, to say the least, because the team was so good at home, tying the franchise record with 25 wins. But on the road the Lightning, at 13-22-6, sometimes seemed lost.

It was outscored 152-100. The power play was tied for 21st at 13.9 percent. The penalty kill was 18th at 80 percent.

Had Tampa Bay played even marginally better, perhaps it would have made the playoffs it missed by only eight points. What goes into winning on the road?

• Be ready to play. Too many times last season the Lightning did not match the home team's intensity and was outscored 46-30 in first periods.

"We just fell behind the eight ball too much and played chase hockey," center Steven Stamkos said. "Tough to do on the road."

That is why defenseman Matt Carle said Tampa Bay needs an "overtime mentality."

"Just get pucks to the net and create havoc in the offensive zone and not try to do things too cute," he said.

• Play better defensively.

"Make a simple play and live to fight another day," defenseman Eric Brewer said, and added about last season, "We were just trying to make too many plays, just trying to knife the puck through too many guys. Keep the puck moving forward."

• Pay attention to details. The home team gets the last line change, so inevitably visitors will face matchups they don't like.

"You've got to deal with it," Brewer said. "We needed better execution. Quick (line) changes and just stay fresh. You can get over a lot if you're not tired."

Give the Lightning credit. It did all those things in a 4-1 win Jan. 22 at Carolina, and should have gained confidence from a just-ended 4-1-0 homestand.

It also saw in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Rangers the kind of game to expect on this road trip: close-checking, physical and more of a grind than the wide open games that helped Tampa Bay score a league-most 39 goals.

"Playoff hockey," right wing Marty St. Louis called it.

And we know teams fight less in the playoffs, though Crombeen ruled nothing out.

"We're competing for two points," he said, "and we'll do whatever we have to to get it."

Comments
Lightning journal: Vinik pushing for outdoor game

Lightning journal: Vinik pushing for outdoor game

As he sat back in his chair facing the stands in the middle of the two benches, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik could not help but remember the first time he sat there.A young Steven Stamkos sat next to him as he spoke in front of a crowd of about 30 peop...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Lightning journal: Roster trimmed to 28

Lightning journal: Roster trimmed to 28

TAMPA – After Sunday morning, the Lightning sat five cuts away from having a 23-man roster to start the regular season.It cut its training camp roster by 27, leaving 28 players on the roster with the start of the regular season less than two we...
Published: 09/23/18
Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

TAMPA — As the end of training camp looms, there's no clear-cut answer as to how the Lightning will fill the one, maybe two open forward spots in its lineup.It could go with Adam Erne. Spending much of his time in AHL Syracuse the past three se...
Published: 09/22/18
Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

TAMPA — It didn't take long for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois to decide he wanted to put a waiver claim in Friday.Not when he saw that F Danick Martel was available."He's a player we have had on our radar for a while, going back to actually his...
Published: 09/22/18
Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Lightning journal: Adam Erne looks to stick in Tampa

Forward Adam Erne flicks the puck into the net, but he has no time to celebrate.He flips around. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Snow flies off his skates. Erne then squares his body as he arrives in the defensive zone, steps away from the net.Within a secon...
Published: 09/21/18
Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

Lightning falls to Hurricanes again in preseason

The Lightning did not fare much better in its second preseason crack at the Hurricanes.In fact, it did worse.It lost 6-1 Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.Carolina put a much more veteran team on the ice than it did Tuesday in winning Tampa Bay's preseason o...
Published: 09/19/18
Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

Second-round pick Gabriel Fortier among Lightning’s early cuts

One round of cuts down, several more to go.The Lightning cut seven players on Wednesday, five of whom were training camp invitees, the team announced. All seven players were assigned to juniors.Gabriel Fortier was the most notable cut. The Lightning'...
Published: 09/19/18
Lightning journal: Can Mathieu Joseph sneak his way onto the opening-day roster?

Lightning journal: Can Mathieu Joseph sneak his way onto the opening-day roster?

It remains to be seen if F Mathieu Joseph will make the Lightning's roster. If he doesn't, it certainly won't be because of a lack of opportunities.Joseph saw time on the Lightning power play and penalty kill on Tuesday at Amalie Arena when Tampa Bay...
Published: 09/19/18
Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Hockey News poll: Lightning favored to win Stanley Cup, other awards

Falling just short of winning a championship the past few seasons has done nothing to erode fans' confidence in the Lightning.Not just locally, but also nationally and across Canada.The Lightning is the runaway favorite to win the Stanley C...
Published: 09/19/18
Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

Lightning journal: Alex Killorn’s just puttin’ on the Fitz

TAMPA — How big is FitzMagic? It has hit the Lightning, too.Proving that Harvard guys stick together, Lightning forward Alex Killorn showed support for fellow Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick by, sort of, dressing up the way Fitzpatrick did after ...
Published: 09/19/18