Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning wins exhibition after day of disruptions

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Hockey players are creatures of habit on game days; they skate, they nap, they eat a pregame meal and play.

Even rookie center Steven Stamkos called his afternoon nap a "ritual" and a "tradition."

But tradition was overtaken by circumstance Sunday as the Lightning — which in a quirky, tiring and ultimately successful 12 hours, was in the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia — earned a 4-1 victory over Berlin Eisbaren and learned the real meaning of the term "five or 10 minutes."

"I wouldn't call it inconvenient," Stamkos said. "We knew what to expect, but it's definitely tough when you have a lot of travel and you're getting off a plane and having to get ready and get to the rink and play. It was a little bit of an adjustment."

It was an attitude adjustment for vice president of hockey operations Brian Lawton, who had to tolerate the gentleman in charge of getting Tampa Bay's charter plane to the gate at the airport in Prague, Czech Republic, where the team was based the previous two days.

If you know the Seinfeld episode in which the manager of a Chinese restaurant insists Jerry's table will be ready in "Oh, five, 10 minutes," you know what Lawton went through.

At least three times he was given timetables of five, seven or 10 minutes on the plane's arrival. Not even close. At one point, the gentleman ran into the waiting room and threw up his hands as if to say, "What is going on?"

How did Lawton not blow his top? "Believe me," he said, "I fully comprehend what 'five to 10 minutes' means."

The plane finally arrived, 90 minutes after its scheduled 11 a.m. takeoff, and the team landed in Berlin at 2:30 p.m., 90 minutes before the game at the O2 World Arena. The start time was pushed back a half-hour.

So, what's a few minutes? What's the big deal about a morning skate? But for players used to a regimen, it was disconcerting. "It does make you a little anxious because you're not doing the routine you're used to," wing Gary Roberts said.

It showed in the first period. Though Berlin Eisbaren is perhaps only a tick better than an AHL squad, it dominated and led 1-0. The score would have been worse if not for Olaf Kolzig's game-saving goaltending. But by the second period, Tampa Bay had found its rhythm.

Jason Ward scored twice, Roberts had a goal and an assist, Vladimir Mihalik scored his first NHL goal, and Stamkos' pass that set up Roberts' redirect was a tape-to-tape thing of beauty.

"This was a good test," coach Barry Melrose said. "Berlin made us work our butts off, and it's a tribute to them. Fortunately, Ollie gave us a chance to stay in it until we found our legs."

The Lightning bolted from the arena to catch a plane to Slovakia for Tuesday's preseason finale. What else? The plane was delayed, leaving the players in a Berlin terminal for 30 minutes.

"It builds chemistry going through all these weird experiences together," wing Ryan Malone said after landing at 11:30 p.m. in Bratislava.

"We knew stuff like this was going to happen," Melrose said. "We're not going to complain about it. We're going to make it a good experience for everybody."

Five, 10 minutes at a time.

Lightning wins exhibition after day of disruptions 09/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 29, 2008 3:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays pitchers rave about Twins pitching coach, ex-mentor Neil Allen

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — There have been a lot of coaches who have had a hand in helping Chris Archer get to the big leagues and to the front of the Rays rotation, and as he took the mound Friday night at Target Field, he had reason to nod appreciatively toward the home dugout.

    Minnesota Twins pitching coach Neil Allen jogs back to the dugout after paying starting pitcher Tyler Duffey a visit on the mound in the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, July 7, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
  2. State baseball: Bishop McLaughlin bows out in Class 3A semifinals


    FORT MYERS — One inning into Bishop McLaughlin's Class 3A state semifinal against Fort Myers Canterbury, things could not have gone much better for the Hurricanes. They grabbed a quick one-run lead and Canterbury ace Sam Keating was forced out of the game with a nagging neck injury.

     Chris Berglund (18) of Bishop McLaughlin, at bat during second inning of the FHSAA class 3A semi-final on Friday May 26, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Canterbury, Fort Myers, defeated Bishop 7 to 4. Canterbury will play in the 3A championship tomorrow.
  3. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead


    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  4. Video preview: Rays open tough road trip facing Twins tonight


    After splitting a four-game series against the Angels to wrap up a winning homestand, the Rays tonight open a nine-game, 10-day roadtrip with the first game of the weekend series with the Twins:

  5. For starters: Rays, Archer take on surprising Twins to open road trip


    UPDATE, 6:37: Cash said it was a combination of wanting to keep Dickerson, who is a team-best . 358 against lefties, in the lineup and Santiago's splits. ... Cash said there was nothing new on the injured players back at the Trop, with Brad Boxberger still slated to throw live BP on Monday in Port Charlotte, …