Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Shortened NHL season puts premium on each game

BRANDON — If anything good comes out of the NHL lockout, it might actually be the shortened 48- or 50-game schedule.

Purists will hate it because, to them, it won't be the physical and mental test of the normal 82-game slog.

But think about it: Fewer games means teams might not have time to regroup after extended losing streaks. Leaving points on the ice through shootouts will be maddening instead of just annoying. Consistency will be key as will a ferociously fast start.

As Lightning forward Adam Hall said, "I don't think you can hold anything back."

"The intensity of the games is going to be extremely high," coach Guy Boucher said. "You're going to see some physicality. You're going to see guys battling with everything they've got."

That is why Boucher said scrimmages will take the place of skating and passing drills at training camp to build endurance and get players quickly in the battling frame of mind.

It is why the team is contemplating moving training camp out of town to facilitate player bonding with a road-trip atmosphere.

It also is why defenseman Sami Salo, sitting at his locker, sweating profusely, said Monday's skate, the day after the league and Players' Association forged a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining that ended the lockout, was a little more intense than those that had come before.

"Everybody wants to be here," wing Marty St. Louis said, raising his hand above his head. "The team that's going to get here quicker and maintain, those are the teams that are going to be on top, so I hope we get there quick."

For Boucher, that is especially important considering, as he said, "Everybody in our division improved or stayed the same."

Indeed, the Southeast Division might be one of the league's most interesting.

The Panthers, coming off a division title, added defenseman and former Lightning Filip Kuba. The Jets last season gave Tampa Bay all kinds of trouble. The Hurricanes are drastically improved after adding forwards Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal and defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The Capitals lost Semin but added center Mike Ribiero.

"Whether it's a 50-game season or a 48-game season, you can't afford to take a couple of weeks off," center Steven Stamkos said. "You have to kill losing streaks quick and try to maintain winning streaks because if you have a good couple of weeks that could be the difference between making the playoffs and being out of the playoffs."

Case in point, Stamkos said, the Stanley Cup champion Kings, who needed a late-season 9-2-3 run just to claim the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

"In a shortened season," Stamkos said, "they would have missed the playoffs."

Look, Boucher said, "there are going to be ups and downs like every season but you don't want a down that will last too long because you'll probably be out of the playoffs. The players are aware of it. We're aware of it. But I think it's going to be good for the fans because every game means so much."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Any deadline move won’t be cure-all for Lightning

Any deadline move won’t be cure-all for Lightning

The Lightning could very well add another defenseman by Monday's trade deadline, whether it's one of the bigger fish, such as Erik Karlsson and Ryan McDonagh, or a depth piece, such as Mike Green.Either way, one addition won't automatically cure some...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Ondrej Palat skating, likely mid-March return

Ondrej Palat skating, likely mid-March return

MONTREAL — It is an encouraging sign for the Lightning that wing Ondrej Palat (right) is back on the ice, even if he is doing just light skating.Palat is arguably the team's best two-way forward, someone who plays in all situations, so Tampa Ba...
Published: 02/24/18
Lightning tops Canadiens in shootout, looks ahead to trade deadline

Lightning tops Canadiens in shootout, looks ahead to trade deadline

MONTREAL — There's no guarantee general manager Steve Yzerman will be able to pull off a big move by Monday's trade deadline, though indications are the Lightning and Senators are working hard on a potential Erik Karlsson blockbuster.And the Li...
Published: 02/24/18
What Lightning would be getting in Erik Karlsson

What Lightning would be getting in Erik Karlsson

MONTREAL – We don't know yet if the Lightning will be able to land Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson by Monday's trade deadline.There's a chance, with Tampa Bay having enough interest – and high-level prospects – to make t...
Published: 02/24/18
NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

NHL trade deadline: Action picks up with three-team deal

RALEIGH, N.C. — The  Penguins acquired center Derick Brassard from the Senators on Friday night in a three-team deal that sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Golden Knights.The Penguins announced the deal...
Published: 02/23/18
Can the Lightning win the Stanley Cup?

Can the Lightning win the Stanley Cup?

When it comes to the Tampa Bay Lightning these days, there's only one question that really matters:Will the Lightning win the Stanley Cup?That's it. That's the big question. That's the only thing on everyone's mind.Will it or won't it?Does this ...
Published: 02/23/18
Erik Karlsson-to-Lightning talk won’t die down until deadline is over

Erik Karlsson-to-Lightning talk won’t die down until deadline is over

MONTREAL — Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson sure seemed chatty with his Lightning friends as he left the Canadian Tire Center on Thursday night.Karlsson, 27, took his time talking up several members of Tampa Bay's staff in the hallway out...
Published: 02/23/18
Lightning not planning to trade from current roster

Lightning not planning to trade from current roster

You can bet that many Lightning fans hoped Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson jumped on Tampa Bay's bus after Thursday night's 4-3 Lightning win.Karlsson, 27, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, is the biggest prize leading up to Monday's trade...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Lightning escapes for 4-3 win in Ottawa

Lightning escapes for 4-3 win in Ottawa

OTTAWA – The Lightning was encouraged it escaped Ottawa with a 4-3 win over the Senators on Thursday night.But it was really disappointed about how it had to "hold on to dear life," as defenseman Victor Hedman put it, after taking a three-goal ...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
U-S-A! U-S-A! Women’s hockey beats Canada for Olympic gold

U-S-A! U-S-A! Women’s hockey beats Canada for Olympic gold

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey is finally over. They needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it, too.Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored a dazzling, triple-deke goal in the sixth ...
Published: 02/22/18