TAMPA — Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow and Zach Bogosian joined the Lightning over nine days this month. Tuesday’s game against the Maple Leafs was the first opportunity to see all three in action.
So, how’d they do?
It’s really too early to ask that question. It takes time for players to learn a new system and settle in. Tuesday morning, assistant coach Derek Lalonde sat down with Goodrow over a computer, and assistant coach Todd Richards was with Bogosian over a whiteboard.
But that doesn’t stop anyone from wanting to know early impressions.
Overall, coach Jon Cooper said, the organization wanted to add depth to the “great core.”
Of Coleman and Goodrow, Cooper said, “Nothing’s going to stop them from getting to a puck. They’re not afraid to go to any area of the ice. They’re gritty. They’re tenacious. They’re just hard to play against.”
He believes the additions will help the Lightning win games in different ways. It’s those players who “push you across the line” down the stretch, he said.
What first impressions did the three newbies make?
Cooper’s assessment: “Coleman’s been fantastic. He doesn’t have the points and stuff to show for it, but he’s been great for us.”
Coleman, a forward acquired from the Devils in a Feb. 16 trade, has the advantage in the trio: His home debut was his third game with the Lightning. Tampa Bay brought Coleman in to be a pest, and he has been that. Coleman has been all over the ice, delivering hits and bumping guys. He also fanned on two chances at an open net, but both were moving pucks.
Cooper’s assessment: “He had the two-on-one (on the penalty kill). He had to set up goals. He’s big, he’s physical, he competes hard. He has all those assets.”
Goodrow, a forward acquired from the Sharks on Monday, kept his shifts short Tuesday, his first Lightning game, a sign of someone finding his way on a new team. Targeted as a “big, physical center,” Goodrow brings another disruptive presence on defense. At one point Tuesday, he turned that on Toronto’s John Tavares, bumping him off-balance and then delivering a little shove to keep him that way.
Cooper’s assessment: “He’s a big boy, he can skate. He did everything we asked of him, broke the puck out. It was too bad because he had a couple of bombs, one that unfortunately hits (Brayden Point) in front."
Bogosian, a defenseman signed as a free agent Sunday, nearly scored on his first shot in his first Lightning game. He fired from just inside the blue line, and the puck went off goalie Frederik Andersen’s glove, then the post.
On the other side of the puck, however, he was beat by Tavares on a slick backhand in the second period. The play was an overall fail. It started with a lazy clear attempt by Steven Stamkos. Then Nikita Kucherov was beaten along the wall. Bogosian was between Tavares and the net but couldn’t do anything to stop the shot.