Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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."

Comments
Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

Lightning opens road trip with shutout of Blues

ST. LOUIS — This showdown was supposed to be about the best team in the East versus the best in the West. In reality, the Lightning’s 3-0 win over the Blues on Tuesday night pretty much came down to this:Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best goalies ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blues

Andrei Vasilevskiy might have made the save of the year. With the Lightning leading by one midway through the second, an Alex Steen dump-in took a wild carom off the boards. Vasilevskiiy somehow sprawled out for a right-toe save. Then, on his back, V...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

Lightning face Blues in showdown between NHL’s top two teams

The Lightning's west coast trip will start with a bang tonight in St. Louis.Tonight's game will pit the top two teams in the NHL, with Tampa Bay (21-6-2) atop the Eastern Conference, the Blues (21-8-2) the No. 1 team in the West.Fittingly, an NBCSN-a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

How Lightning coach Jon Cooper reinvented himself

BRANDON — The best team in town had just wrapped up practice. The Lightning had a plane to catch, to St. Louis, where Tuesday in St. Louis begins a four-city road trip that ends at expansion Las Vegas, exclusive engagement, one show a night, unless y...
Published: 12/11/17
All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

All boxes checked on Lightning home stand sweep; now, back to the road

TAMPA — You don’t often see a coach making shadow puppets on the wall with his hands at the start of his postgame news conference, but that’s where the Lightning is these days after sweeping a four-game home stand with Saturday night’s 4-3 overtime v...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

Updated game story: Lightning’s Brayden Point credits luck, opportunity for OT winner vs. Jets

TAMPA — His coach says he plays every game as if he doesn’t play his best, he’s going to be sent down. That is not the case with Brayden Point, but who doesn’t want that kind of effort from a second-year player who has more than established himself i...
Published: 12/09/17

Brayden Point scores in OT to give Lightning win over Jets

TAMPA — The Jets saw Saturday’s game against the Lightning as a benchmark game, a way to measure themselves against the NHL’s top team. The Lightning had circled the game, the last of a four-game home stand."It’s going to be a big test for us," Light...
Published: 12/09/17
Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

Lightning journal: Power-play players make me look good, Jon Cooper says

TAMPA — How about that Lightning power play."Coaching," coach Jon Cooper said before Saturday’s game with the Jets.He was kidding."You always look like a good coach when you can throw (Nikita) Kucherov and (Steven) Stamkos and (Victor) Hedman over th...
Published: 12/09/17

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Saturday’s Lightning-Jets game

The game drew the hockey world’s attention because it matched the NHL’s top team against a rising team in the West. It was refreshing to see both treat it as more than just another game. The Jets saw a chance to measure themselves against the top tea...
Published: 12/09/17
Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

Attitude adjusted, Cory Conacher focused on sticking with Lightning

TAMPA — When Cory Conacher was called up a little over a week ago, it looked like it might be for just a one-game cameo.Center Cedric Paquette had been suspended for one game for boarding, and the Lightning, otherwise healthy up front, needed a fill-...
Published: 12/09/17