Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk have mutual admiration

TAMPA — For Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov, it's still a thrill playing against Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk.

Kucherov said Datsyuk was one of his favorite players growing up in Russia, believing the two-time Stanley Cup champion would make things look so easy.

"Just watching what he does on the ice and what he does in the defensive zone, you try to pick some stuff up," Kucherov said.

And the admiration appears mutual. Datsyuk is impressed with how Kucherov has developed in his third NHL season, entering Tuesday with 27 goals.

"He's really improved," Datsyuk said. "He really has confidence now, and makes a lot of good decisions on the ice, especially in the tough times. He's just growing, he's really talented and a good worker."

Datsyuk is known as one of the league's top two-way forwards, a three-time Selke Award winner. And Datsyuk sees growth in that part of Kucherov's game too. Kucherov was tied for first in the NHL in plus-minus last season at plus-38, and is plus-5 this season.

"It's not easy to play a two-way game," Datsyuk said. "I think he's steady, every game, every year, he just takes one step."

MEDICAL MATTERS: RW Ryan Callahan (lower body) and C Valtteri Filppula (upper body) missed Tuesday's game against Detroit, but coach Jon Cooper indicated they could be back by this weekend.

Filppula, sidelined for four games, continues to skate with the team, though in a different-colored jersey. Callahan missed his second consecutive game. "Hopefully on the weekend for him," Cooper said.

There's never a good time for injuries, but with 10 games to go in a fight for playoff position, missing two veterans is difficult. The Lightning entered Tuesday two points out of first place in the Atlantic Division but just five ahead of the Flyers for the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference.

"You don't like to have guys out, especially when you're battling for a playoff spot," Cooper said. "It's so tight, aside from (East leader) Washington, nobody really has a whole ton of breathing room. You're battling every single night."

STEPPING IN: With Callahan out, Jonathan Marchessault has an opportunity on the second line with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, the trio forming quick chemistry. Marchessault had six shots Saturday against Arizona.

"He can make plays, he's right handed, which helps," Cooper said of Marchessault. "He makes plays for them. He's a shooter. And those two guys can find you. They've just, for whatever reason, they've kind of meshed together in a short time they've been together."

NUTS AND BOLTS: C Vladislav Namestnikov wore a full cage mask during the skate after a puck hit him in the jaw on Saturday. "You grow up playing in a cage," Namestnikov said. "So you get used to it I guess." … RW Mike Blunden was scratched. … A pregame moment of silence honored victims of the terrorist attack in Belgium. … Tampa Bay signed D Ben Thomas to a three-year entry level deal.

Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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 the bigger fish like Erik Karlsson or Ryan McDonagh, or depth piece like Mike Green.But, either way, one addition won't automatically cure some of the team-...
Updated: 5 hours 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