Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Random thoughts on the road with the Lightning

Random thoughts after the Lightning's 0-3-1 West Coast road trip:

• Why do players have to answer for a clean hit by fighting? We saw that again during the Lightning's 1-0 overtime loss to the Ducks on Friday when defenseman Radko Gudas, after a clean hit on Anaheim's Mathieu Perreault, was challenged by Luca Sbisa.

Gudas in the first-period bout took a hard right hand from Sbisa and left the game midway through the second period with what the team said was an upper-body injury. Coach Jon Cooper said sitting Gudas was a precaution.

Even if Gudas is fine — and we won't know for sure until today's practice — it seems ridiculous a player has to fight after a clean, though hard, check.

Or is it? Cooper said he had "no problem" with what transpired.

"It's two willing combatants going at it," Cooper said. "It's been in the game for 100 years. There's your marquee players, and there's your guys that police the sport and protect those guys. It's not the first or last time it's going to happen."

• Without injured linemate Steven Stamkos to deflect some of the defensive pressure, right wing Marty St. Louis is being defended harder and getting a lot less room to maneuver, which is exacerbating a scoring slump.

St. Louis has just one goal in his past 12 games and is minus-5 in his past three.

Cooper wasn't addressing St. Louis specifically when asked how Stamkos' absence affects other players. But the response might be instructive.

"(Stamkos) takes the other teams' best lines and brings them down a notch," Cooper said. "When he's out of the lineup, it attacks our depth a little bit and they can focus on guys who may not have been focused on as much. So in that way, it hurts."

• St. Louis was blunt last week when he acknowledge how much the Lightning has missed puck-moving defenseman Dan Boyle since Boyle was traded to the Sharks in July 2008.

A just-as-telling moment occurred in November 2010, the first time then-Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher took the team to San Jose. The Sharks won 5-2, and Boyle had two assists and was plus-3. On the team bus after the game, Boucher sat down and immediately turned to the person behind him and, referring to Boyle, said, "Tampa Bay traded that guy?"

• The Kid Line — center Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik — is made up of three rookies. But on this trip, in which the Lightning was outscored 17-6, the line was a combined plus-1.

As Cooper said, "They're using their speed. They're figuring out the NHL, and I just think they're only going to get better."

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