Advertisement
  1. Lightning

Switch to wing helps Lightning's Tyler Johnson

The Lightning's Tyler Johnson (9) looks down at the puck as St. Louis Blues' Paul Stastny (26) watches during the first period of Tuesday's game in St. Louis. [AP Photo/Jeff Roberson]
Published Dec. 13, 2017

ST. LOUIS — Tyler Johnson hasn't played very much wing in his career, primarily sticking to his natural center position.

But lately, Johnson has been stellar on the right side.

Johnson's assist in Tuesday's win over the Blues extended his point streak to a season-high five games (three multi-point efforts), all coming since he moved to wing. He snapped a career-long 15-game goal drought Dec. 2 when put alongside Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov. On Tuesday, Johnson flanked C Brayden Point, setting him up on his first-period goal.

Johnson said with the Lightning's system, there isn't much difference playing center and wing as far as defensive responsibilities. He and Point took turns on faceoffs Tuesday. But the move has benefited Johnson, who made a heck of a play circling the Blues net before patiently finding a trailing Point for Tuesday's goal.

"It's nice you get up in the zone a little bit more, create some speed in transitional play," Johnson said. "You're more of a north-south, straight up and down kind of game. And playing with those guys, they're great players, it's a lot of fun."

Conacher's case

F Cory Conacher has said he hoped to stick with the Lightning this time around.

So far, so good.

Conacher played in his fifth straight game Tuesday, clicking on a third line with Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde.

Conacher was thought to be a temporary fill-in when called up Dec. 2 during C Cedric Paquette's one-game suspension. But Conacher's more engaged play, three points in five games, has made it harder on coaches to send him back to AHL Syracuse.

"He's been in the lineup and hasn't come out," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's earned his right there. We don't hand out lineup spots like Halloween candy. You've got to earn them, and he's earned his spot."

If Conacher plays 10 cumulative NHL games this season, or spends up to 30 days on the Lightning roster, he'd have to clear waivers first before getting sent down to Syracuse.

But if Conacher, on a two-year deal, keeps playing like this, he won't have to worry about that.

Lining up

Ryan Callahan (undisclosed) was a surprise late scratch Tuesday. That meant both Conacher and RW J.T. Brown were in the lineup. G Andrei Vasilevskiy was in net. D Slater Koekkoek remained in, with D Andrej Sustr scratched.

D Braydon Coburn (undisclosed) missed his fifth straight game but participated in a team skate for the first time. Cooper said he's hopeful Coburn will play on this four-game trip, but it is not guaranteed.

High praise

St. Louis coach Mike Yeo is impressed with the multi-dimensional offensive attack of the Lightning.

"It's a team that has the ability to score, but more than that, they're hungry to score," Yeo said. "They're dangerous off the rush, they're dangerous in the offensive zone, they can score by making plays and finding seams and creating movement but they can also score at the net."

Familiar faces

Cooper was very familiar with a few Blues, having coached F Brayden Schenn and D Colton Parayko for Team Canada at the summer's World Championships. "He's awesome, I really enjoyed playing for him," Parayko said. "He's a coach that's willing to help out in all areas."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Former Lightning wing Ryan Callahan's debut as an NHL Network analyst is drawing positive reviews. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Slap Shots: And we answer this week’s reader’s question: Why doesn’t Victor Hedman play more minutes, like other No. 1 defensemen?
  2. Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates with teammates after he scored in overtime of the team's NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019 in Sunrise, Fla. The Avalanche won 5-4. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) WILFREDO LEE  |  AP
    Now the Avalanche head to Amalie Arena for a showdown with the Lightning on Saturday.
  3. Nikita Kucherov teams with Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos to give the Lightning one of the most potent top lines in the league. They'll face off against another "super line" Saturday against Colorado. Tampa Bay Times
    After the Boston Bruins’ super trio, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov look for more success against Colorado’s concentrated scorers.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Luke Witkowski (28) celebrate with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: There was bad news Thursday in the Tampa Bay penalty box, for USF’s Blake Barnett, for the Yankees and the NFL’s reigning MVP.
  5. Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) goes down along the boards as he chases the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning centers Alex Killorn (17) and Anthony Cirelli (71) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Diana C. Nearhos’ notes from the game: Why not try Mikhail Sergachev with Ryan McDonagh? Point empty on the shootout again.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mathieu Joseph (7) scores against Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    They outplayed Boston five on five in the shootout win but were lacking on the power play and penalty kill.
  7. Jon Cooper and Derek Lalonde addressed the Boston College hockey team at Chestnut Hill on Wednesday. Courtesy of Boston College
    Eagles’ Hockey Hall of Fame-bound coach Jerry York invited Cooper to speak to his team
  8. Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (left) celebrates his goal with teammate Jake DeBrusk in Monday's game against the Ducks. Pastrnak had four goals against Anaheim and enters tonight's game against the Lightning on a roll. ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Tampa Bay finishes up the road trip with one of its toughest division rivals
  9. Montreal has something to offer for everyone. Diana C. Nearhos
    Julien BriseBois, Alex Killorn and Mathieu Joseph sent Diana C. Nearhos out to see some of Montreal’s favorite spots.
  10. Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price deflects a Tampa Bay Lightning shot during the second period Tuesday. PAUL CHIASSON  |  AP
    Diana C. Nearhos’s takeaways: A streak broken for Jonathan Drouin, fun in-game player videos.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement