Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's Tyler Johnson day to day, could play Game 1 vs. Detroit

TAMPA — Coach Jon Cooper appeared as livid as he has ever been after a game Saturday night.

Not only had the Lightning lost 5-2 to the Canadiens, it had lost center Tyler Johnson to a scary upper-body injury after he hit his head against the boards after a post-whistle shove from Montreal's Greg Pateryn in the first period. Cooper called the play "egregious." With the playoffs opening Wednesday against the Red Wings at Amalie Arena, the mountain of injuries were piling up, including captain Steven Stamkos, defenseman Anton Stralman and wings Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov.

"I don't even want to talk about it," Cooper said, shaking his head. "Anything about the game?"

The game wasn't much better for the Lightning.

The good news for Tampa Bay on Sunday was Johnson was considered day to day and could be ready for Game 1 against Detroit, general manager Steve Yzerman said. The team also could have back defenseman Victor Hedman (upper body), Kucherov (undisclosed) and Callahan (lower body).

But of equal concern should be how the banged-up Lightning scuffled down the stretch, losing five of its final eight games. Though injuries make it difficult to gauge, Tampa Bay is far from clicking at the most important time of the year. Two of those three wins came against the league's lowest-scoring team, the Devils, and another came over the worst-in-the-league Maple Leafs, who outplayed Tampa Bay, which was bailed out by goalie Ben Bishop.

"If we think it's going to be just (flipping) a switch heading into the playoffs, that we're going to play well, we're going to have energy, well everyone hopes so," wing Ondrej Palat said. "Because the first two periods (Saturday) were awful."

Sure, Saturday's regular-season finale at the Bell Centre meant nothing in the standings. But if the Lightning is going to overcome the significant injuries to Stralman and Stamkos, among others, it has to elevate its play on both ends of the ice.

"We should be better. We've got to be better," center Brian Boyle said. "We've got a couple days to do that in practices and take advantage."

The Lightning returns to practice today and Tuesday in Brandon as it shifts its focus to Detroit, which gave Tampa Bay all it could handle in a first-round series last year, the Lightning prevailing in seven games.

Cooper said a key to Tampa Bay's playoff run last year was its health. The Lightning had no major injuries through the first three rounds; in the Stanley Cup final, Johnson (broken wrist) and Bishop (torn groin) got hurt. This time the Lightning will be hampered from the start.

"Whatever your role is, you've got to try to get better," Boyle said. "You play more minutes, you've got to make an impact. Don't pace yourself out there. It's playoffs. It's not a sprint in terms of how long it can be, but you've got to … put more pressure on yourself, look into the mirror and bring a little bit more each night."

One player who did that in the last two games was wing Jonathan Drouin, his return to the Lightning promising to be one of the most compelling stories in the playoffs. Drouin — who requested a trade in November, was suspended after refusing to play for AHL Syracuse, then requested to return last month — scored in his first two games after getting called up from Syracuse, and he logged 19 minutes, 27 seconds of ice time against Montreal, second most in his career.

Though Drouin was a healthy scratch in 20 of 26 playoff games last season, he'll likely be in the top six from the get-go this time. "Injuries happen. It's not something you wish for," Drouin said. "But there's ice time there to be grabbed, and we've got to be ready as a team for the playoffs."

Comments
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will announce their full 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, but the league announced each home opener Wednesday, with Tampa Bay playing host to the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Oct. 6.The Lightning will know their ...
Published: 06/20/18
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Mike Hoffman traded twice in wake of harassment, cyberbullying claims

Mike Hoffman traded twice in wake of harassment, cyberbullying claims

The Ottawa Senators traded winger Mike Hoffman on Tuesday, hoping to solve an ugly off-ice issue involving star defenseman Erik Karlsson and his wife. The Senators sent Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks, who then dealt him to the Florida Panthers. All t...
Published: 06/19/18
Salary-cap increase makes for ‘more fun’ NHL offseason

Salary-cap increase makes for ‘more fun’ NHL offseason

Thanks, Vegas. That’s what NHL general managers are saying this offseason after the Stanley Cup Final run of the expansion Golden Knights contributed to what’s expected to be a healthy increase for the salary cap. With elite center John Tavares, No. ...
Published: 06/19/18
Barry Trotz resigns as coach of Stanley Cup-winning Capitals

Barry Trotz resigns as coach of Stanley Cup-winning Capitals

Barry Trotz abruptly stepped down as coach of the Washington Capitals on Monday after failing to agree to terms on a new contract, a stunning move that left the newly minted Stanley Cup champions without a coach with the draft later this week and wit...
Published: 06/18/18
Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

Lightning re-signs goaltender Eddie Pasquale to two-way deal

The Lightning re-signed goaltender Eddie Pasquale to a one-year, two-way contract general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.Pasquale, 27, split this past season between the Syracuse Crunch and Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League. He...
Published: 06/18/18
Lightning opens seven-game preseason schedule at home Sept. 18

Lightning opens seven-game preseason schedule at home Sept. 18

TAMPA — The Lightning will open its seven-game preseason schedule at home with a 7:30 p.m.  game Sept. 18 against the Carolina Hurricane, the team announced Thursday.That is one of three home games the Lightning will play in a preseason sc...
Published: 06/14/18
Lightning trades Peter Budaj to Kings, acquires forward Andy Andreoff

Lightning trades Peter Budaj to Kings, acquires forward Andy Andreoff

Sixteen months after acquiring Peter Budaj from the Kings, the Lightning today returned the veteran goaltender to Los Angeles.The Lightning traded Budaj for forward Andy Andreoff, general manager Steve Yzerman announced in a news release.Andreoff, 27...
Published: 06/13/18
Lightning set as early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

Lightning set as early favorite to win the Stanley Cup in 2018-19

This past season didn't end the way Lightning fans might have hoped, but that's no reason to lose hope.In fact, oddsmakers are more bullish on Tampa Bay than any team in the NHL for next season.According to at least one sports betting site, the ...
Published: 06/08/18