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Lightning coach Jon Cooper enjoys watching former players in playoffs

Notes | Plus, injury updates on Mikhail Sergachev, Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point.
Calgary Flames and former Lightning forward Blake Coleman (20) collides with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci (5) during Game 5 of their second-round playoff series Thursday in Calgary, Alberta.
Calgary Flames and former Lightning forward Blake Coleman (20) collides with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci (5) during Game 5 of their second-round playoff series Thursday in Calgary, Alberta. [ JEFF MCINTOSH | AP ]
Published May 27|Updated May 28

TAMPA — Coach Jon Cooper has found a new way to enjoy watching other playoff series the past few seasons.

He keeps track of former Lightning players now with other teams.

“I think it’s no surprise that a lot of the guys that have left us are on teams that are still around,” Cooper said Friday. “I think that’s why teams went after those guys. And you’re pulling for them.”

Forwards Blake Coleman (Flames), Barclay Goodrow (Rangers) and Carter Verhaeghe (Panthers), who won Cups with the Lightning in one or both of the past two years, made it into at least the second round of this season’s playoffs.

Related: Lightning’s Corey Perry finds success in different role on power play

On Thursday, Cooper tuned in to Game 5 of the “Battle of Alberta” series between Edmonton and Calgary, paying extra attention to Coleman, who left for the Flames in free agency last offseason.

With the score tied at 4, Coleman scored with 5:57 left in the third period to give Calgary the lead, but the goal was waved off after video review determined that he kicked the puck into the net. The game went to overtime tied at 4, and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid scored 5:03 in for the win to send the Oilers to the Western Conference final with a 4-1 series win.

“I felt awful for ‘Colesy’ … where that goal was disallowed for him,” Cooper said. “But when you’re in the position we are, you’re not pulling for teams. You’re just pulling for guys you know, and I’ve been fortunate to coach a few guys in this league, and so you’re always hoping they do well.”

Goodrow is the only Lightning Cup-winning alumnus remaining in the playoffs. He has played in just one game this postseason after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 1 of the opening round against the Penguins.

The Lightning play the winner of the Rangers-Hurricanes series in the Eastern Conference final starting starting Wednesday, the NHL announced Friday.

Sergachev, Hagel, Point injury updates

Forward Brandon Hagel and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev took a rest day for the second straight day after also missing Thursday’s practice.

“Every day that we’re still around is another day better for them,” Cooper said. “I anticipate most of those guys will be here for the start of Round 3, but we’ll have to see whenever that starts.”

AHL Syracuse callup Cole Koepke filled in for Hagel on the third line with Ross Colton and Corey Perry. Jan Rutta replaced Sergachev in the third defense pair with Cal Foote.

All-Star center Brayden Point also continues to be absent from practices as he recuperates from a lower-body injury suffered during Game 7 of the opening round against the Maple Leafs.

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Teammates have said there’s hope that the longer their playoff run continues, the better the chance Point can return.

“It’s hard for me to say right now (if he plays in the next round) because we don’t even know when (it is) going to start,” Cooper said before the NHL announced later in the day that the East final would begin Wednesday. “Is Point closer to playing in Round 3 than he was Round 2? No question. But he’s progressing.”

Asked if Point was skating, Cooper said: “There’s a plan, but when it gets going here, we’ll let you know.”

Related: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare lifts Lightning with ‘big mouth’

Hedman shows appreciation for Tampa Fire Rescue

Victor Hedman showed his support for Tampa Fire Rescue by wearing a “T.F.D. Rescue” baseball cap while speaking with reporters following practice Friday at Amalie Arena.
Victor Hedman showed his support for Tampa Fire Rescue by wearing a “T.F.D. Rescue” baseball cap while speaking with reporters following practice Friday at Amalie Arena. [ Tampa Bay Lightning ]

Defenseman Victor Hedman showed his support for Tampa Fire Rescue by wearing a TFR baseball cap while speaking with reporters after practice.

Hedman said he received the cap Thursday and the department asked if he also wanted a T-shirt for his 1-year-old son, Rio.

“(Rio) was very fired up,” Hedman said. “It means a lot, and as a citizen of the city and all over, you obviously almost take it for granted. But you don’t see what they go through on a day-to-day basis. They’re hard-working people, and they put themselves on the line. You never know what call you’re going to get, so a lot of appreciation for those guys. It’s just phenomenal what they do to keep us safe.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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