Friday, November 24, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Pierre-Cedric Labrie tough on ice, not off


MONTREAL — The best thing about rookie right wing Pierre-Cedric Labrie, his Lightning teammates say, is he can laugh at himself.

Take his shock of thick, curly red hair he sometimes tames with an elastic band.

"If I don't take care of my head, it will just be a big Afro and everybody is laughing at me," Labrie said, "so, I just have to laugh, too."

"We always say he's got dual character," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's got character, and he is a character. Those are fun guys to be around."

Labrie, though, is dead serious about his career. That's what happens when at age 17 you are cut by a junior team and take a job working the overnight shift at a convenience store.

He is even more serious about playing in Montreal, where he played his first NHL game last season and where Tampa Bay tonight takes on the Canadiens.

"It's like my ground. It's my province," said Labrie, 26, whose hometown of Baie-Comeau in Quebec is about 360 miles northeast. "It's like being back home. It's a good feeling. The game is going to be on TV everywhere in my hometown, so that's really special because I know everybody is looking."

Assuming Labrie plays — the 6-foot-3, 234-pound freight train has missed eight of the previous 11 games with an upper-body injury — what a dozen family and friends will see is a player growing into his game.

Labrie scored his second career goal in Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Jets, and it should be noted both came from the front of the net on scrambling, physical plays.

And though he is averaging 7:40 of ice time as a fourth-line player, Labrie played a career-best 10:49 and was plus-1 against Winnipeg. His line, which included B.J. Crombeen and Dana Tyrell, was Tampa Bay's best for much of the game.

He also has an assist and is plus-1 in 14 games. His 28 penalty minutes include four fights, and he has 32 hits.

"He does that job in hockey that's tough to do," said Cooper, who also coached Labrie in the AHL at Syracuse and Norfolk. "He's got to grind guys out sometimes. He has to fight when called upon."

"He's hard to play against, a great skater, physical," Crombeen said. "He creates a lot in there."

Perhaps most of all, though, Labrie is a terrific teammate.

Part of it is his willingness to fight to defend teammates. But there also is a playfulness to Labrie, who always seems to be smiling and, as Crombeen said, "doesn't have too many bad days."

"He takes things very lightly," said teammate Alex Killorn, who also played with Labrie in the AHL. "You can make fun of him, and he'll make fun of you. There's nothing personal about it."

"I bring the positivity," Labrie said. "I try to bring some jokes and make guys laugh."

And that brings us back to Labrie's hair.

"When he puts shampoo in there, it just blows up like a poodle," Killorn said.

Asked if he ever made fun of Labrie's hair, Cooper laughed,

"I've had him for three years," he said. "You could probably answer that yourself."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — You don’t often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkos’ voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there haven’t been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning journal: Red-hot top line cools off

Lightning journal: Red-hot top line cools off

WASHINGTON — Nobody thought the Lightning’s hot top line was going to keep up its historic pace all season.Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov have a combined 91 points through the first 22 games, which averages to just more tha...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Friday’s Lightning-Capitals game

Alex Ovechkin’s vintage one-timer in the first period Friday gave him 573 career goals, tying him with Hall of Famer Mike Bossy for 21st in NHL history. No matter what side you sit on with the Capitals star, he’s always worth the price of admission. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Lightning falls to Capitals

WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin and Devante Smith-Pelly each scored, Philipp Grubauer stopped 25 shots for his first victory of the season and the Capitals beat Tampa Bay 3-1 on Friday night to end the Lightning’s six-game road winning streak. Jay Beagle ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning recalls Cory Conacher from Syracuse

Lightning recalls Cory Conacher from Syracuse

The Lightning recalled forward Cory Conacher from AHL Syracuse on Friday for tonight's game against the Capitals.GM Steve Yzerman said that with a couple players dealing with minor injuries, Conacher's callup provides some depth so that the team coul...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Stamkos: Teams adjusting to hot top line

Stamkos: Teams adjusting to hot top line

Nobody thought the Lightning's hot top line was going to keep up its historic pace all season.Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov have a combined 90 points through the first 21 games, which is just over four points per game."The...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Don’t forget Ryan Callahan in Lightning’s resurgence

Don’t forget Ryan Callahan in Lightning’s resurgence

WASHINGTON — Much has been made about the impact on the Lightning of a healthy C Steven Stamkos, who missed most of last season after knee surgery.But don’t forget about RW Ryan Callahan, 32, who is looking like his old self after hip problems plague...
Published: 11/23/17
Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed ...
Published: 11/22/17
Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season. And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point’s power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory. "A big boun...
Published: 11/22/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Lightning-Blackhawks game

Every Lightning-Blackhawks game at Amalie Arena has a good representation of red in the stands. And Wednesday’s matchup was no exception, with a large contingent of transplants and travelers. "It feels like half the city of Chicago is traveling down ...
Published: 11/22/17