Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning to stay the course for now

The Lightning on Sunday put defenseman and perpetual healthy scratch Brendan Mikkelson on waivers for the purpose of sending him to AHL Syracuse so he can get some playing time.

But general manager Steve Yzerman indicated a Crunch player possibly could be promoted, and if so, a defenseman is likely.

"We brought up forwards the last few weeks," he said. "We've got options in other areas."

The most obvious: Radko Gudas, a defensive-minded bruiser who was so impressive at training camp, and point-producer Mark Barberio.

The small move, if it happens, will not assuage fans who want coach Guy Boucher's head or a roster shakeup in response to a 4-13-1 streak that has Tampa Bay one point from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

But with Yzerman reiterating "I think our coaches do a good job of preparing the players and getting the game plan ready" and "I am very pleased with the effort and attitude our team shows up with on a daily basis," there seems a willingness for now to stay the course.

"I think we're doing a lot of things the right way to win games," Yzerman said. "Our coverage in our own zone, we're improving upon. The results aren't showing up in wins and losses, but we're hoping if we stick with the process, that will start to show up, and we hope sooner rather than later."

That's not to say Yzerman isn't working the phones ahead of the April 3 trade deadline for help on the blue line, which is thin after the top four and shouldered the blame for the final goal in Saturday's devastating 4-3 loss to the Canadiens.

"We want to make the playoffs," he said.

So, the plan is to add to the roster rather than sell?

"I wouldn't say add; I would say improve," Yzerman said. "We'll certainly explore that. It's pretty early, but we're not going to start trading draft picks and prospects and young players for (potential unrestricted free agents) to bolster our lineup. I'll be looking more for real trades for players that can fit into our lineup and be with us for an extended period of time."

NHL Network analyst and former Flames GM Craig Button said that is the correct approach and added that blaming Boucher when the team is weak defensively and in net is "low-hanging fruit."

"Everybody is trying to help Steve right now, saying, 'Here's your life preserver,' but it's really an anchor," Button said. "(Toronto defenseman) Mike Komisarek, I'm sure Steve could have him, or (Toronto defenseman) John-Michael Liles or players like that. But I can't imagine Steve Yzerman is interested in those players.

"Sometimes you know where you want to get, but sometimes you incrementally get better. It's still a work in progress. That's the biggest thing people have to keep in mind."

But with the Lightning losing eight of its past 10 games, progress is difficult to see, especially when Tampa Bay is eight points behind first-place Carolina in the Southeast Division and eight out of the East's final playoff spot.

"We've got to get on a streak," center Steven Stamkos said. "We have the guys who can do it. We have a big hill to climb, but you've got to believe."

Comments
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'...
Updated: 2 hours ago
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...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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
Even if it’s just preseason, it matters

Even if it’s just preseason, it matters

TAMPA — It's a little after 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning.The NHL's intense regular season is still more than three weeks away. The uber-intense Stanley Cup playoffs are still seven months away.But, on this particular September day on a sheet o...
Published: 09/18/18
Four Lightning players named to The Hockey News’ list of the top 50 in the NHL

Four Lightning players named to The Hockey News’ list of the top 50 in the NHL

The Lightning has one of the biggest collections of talent in the NHL, according to one international hockey publication.Tampa Bay placed four players — second-most in the league — on The Hockey News' list of the top 50 players in th...
Published: 09/18/18
Lightning to live stream six preseason games, starting Tuesday night

Lightning to live stream six preseason games, starting Tuesday night

TAMPA  — The Lightning will live stream six preseason games —starting with the 7:30 p.m. exhibition Tuesday against Carolina —at TampaBayLightning.com.The broadcasts are free and available only inside the Tampa Bay te...
Published: 09/17/18
Lightning’s Cal Foote may be the NHL’s most appropriately named player

Lightning’s Cal Foote may be the NHL’s most appropriately named player

TAMPA — No player on the Lightning's 61-man roster has a more fitting or appropriate name than defenseman Cal Foote.And it's not even close.Actually, good luck finding a last name on any NHL roster that fits better. Foote, Tampa Bay's first-rou...
Published: 09/17/18
Lightning journal: Center prospect Alex Barre-Boulet shows his scoring chops

Lightning journal: Center prospect Alex Barre-Boulet shows his scoring chops

BRANDON — C Alex Barre-Boulet did not want to try a complicated move. Not with Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy between him and the net.So Barre-Boulet went with old reliable as he drew close to the Lightning goalie."It is a move I use...
Published: 09/16/18
Lightning’s Jake Dotchin clears waivers

Lightning’s Jake Dotchin clears waivers

BRANDON— D Jake Dotchin cleared waivers Saturday, paving the way for the Lightning to terminate his contract for what it called a material breach.The team didn't give details when it announced its intentions Friday, but it is believed to h...
Published: 09/15/18