BRANDON — After quick visits to St. Louis, Orlando and Sunrise last week, the recently downsized Lightning embarked on a weeklong trip to Canada and plan to use the time before its game against the Canadians on Thursday for team-building activities.
Or "guy time," as F Ryan Malone called it.
"It's always hard at home with everyone having their families and stuff going on here, but in a bus or a plane or a hotel, you get to mess with each other a little bit and have some fun," Malone said. "We'll do some team activities and dinners and just kind of hang out and get to know the new guys."
Tampa Bay will stay at a secluded mountain resort in Mont-Tremblant until Thursday afternoon. The location, far from downtown Montreal, is ideal for eliminating distractions, coach Guy Boucher said.
"When you go on the road, that's the one thing to get, you're always together," he said. "We're going to challenge them in all kinds of different ways to try to push their minds and their bodies."
Boucher declined to divulge specific plans — "some things we try to keep for ourselves," he said — but he did say that this trip, combined with the five road games to open the season, gives the team and staff a "perfect moment" to find their identity.
A few players are looking to use the trip to make one last positive impression on the coaching staff. After Sunday's round of cuts, Tampa Bay has 26 players on the roster and needs to reach 23 before the opener Oct. 7.
"Obviously, there's still one more step for me, but it's good to be here right now practicing with the guys," said F Brett Connolly, last year's first-round pick and a contender for the final few spots. "I'll just go out there and play my game, and whatever happens, happens."
Rays fever: The Rays sent a stack of caps to the Lightning, and they were available for players in the locker room. Most of the hats were gone by the time the team finished its on-ice practice. Boucher said he wanted to call Rays manager Joe Maddon later in the day.
"Every team that does well in our city, it just heightens the interest and enthusiasm people have for sports," Boucher said. "It's a cycle that goes around. The more people like their sports teams, and the more the teams pull for each other, the better it is for the city."
Odds and ends: Boucher coached the full team from the ice for the first time Monday. When asked what he saw, he said, "It just shows me how far we are from the details I want." … C Dominic Moore was back practicing after being held out over the weekend for what the team said was body maintenance. … G Dwayne Roloson wore a new mask at Monday's practice, and he will use that one going forward.