Saturday, November 25, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning acknowledges season likely won't end with playoffs

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — It wasn't exactly a postmortem at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

But Lightning players, after their fifth loss in six games, 3-1 to the Blues, acknowledged for the first time there likely will not be a fairy tale ending to their season.

In fact, after the Hurricanes' win over the Jets on Sunday night, Tampa Bay (32-32-7) is last in the Southeast Division, and it is two points from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

"It's tough. It's mentally tough," coach Guy Boucher said.

What makes the free fall tougher to take is that just two weeks ago the team was in the thick of the playoff race. But losing No. 1 goaltender Mathieu Garon to a torn groin was the start of the downward spiral, and it continued a plague of injuries that has worn out the team by forcing some players to play more minutes and take more responsibilities than they can comfortably handle.

That ramped up again Saturday with the loss of wing Ryan Shannon to an upper-body injury. If he does not play tonight against the Sabres, Tampa Bay will be without seven regulars, only a small improvement over a season-high nine at one point in January.

Add the loss of defensemen Pavel Kubina and Matt Gilroy and right wing Steve Downie through trades and general manager Steve Yzerman is loathe to blame anyone for a disappointing season.

"I've got to give our players and coaching staff credit for their resiliency to battle all year long with the injuries and shortcomings and in terms of trades," Yzerman said. "They just kept plugging away and competed hard."

Said Boucher: "We're at the top of what we can give. Our guys are competitors, and they're fighters, and right now they're showing all the fight they can. The players are giving everything they've got."

The real test will come in the final 11 games as the players prepare for the likelihood of golf in April instead of the playoffs.

"Packing the tent wouldn't be anything like this group," defenseman Brendan Mikkelson said. "We're always going to fight to the end. We've got to take it a day at a time and a game at a time. If you get extended too far along the negatives and things like that, things can snowball even more."

NOTES: An announcement is expected today concerning the Lightning's signing of goalie Sebastien Caron. ... Though he said he wasn't obsessing over it, Mikkelson described his first NHL goal in his 116th game Saturday against the Blues as "a relief."

Comments
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: 4 hours 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: 5 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: 5 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: 8 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: 10 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...
Published: 11/24/17
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