RALEIGH, N.C. - The rapid start to the season sent Lightning coach Guy Boucher scrambling to put together a schedule to balance practice time and rest.
Tampa Bay opened training camp on Jan. 13 and practiced for six consecutive days leading up to the season opener Saturday against Washington. The team has not had a practice since.
With today a scheduled off day for the players following a stretch of three games in four days to start the season, by the time the Lightning hold a formal practice on Thursday it will have been nearly a week since the team was on the ice for a practice. The team had a brief practice Friday, a morning skate on Saturday, traveled on Sunday, played an afternoon game on Monday and held and optional skate Tuesday morning.
With a shortened season that will see Tampa Bay play three or four games each week until the end of April, Boucher said he has to find other ways to make corrections and other coaching points.
“The white board and video right now, I think that is every coach’s best friend in the short season with tons of games and little practice,” he said.
Ready to bite
After sitting out the first two games of the season, RW Dana Tyrell was champing at the bit to get into the lineup. Tuesday night against Carolina, Tyrell started on the fourth line with Adam Hall and B.J. Crombeen.
Tuesday was Tyrell’s first NHL game since surgery last spring to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, the second such procedure he has done in the past four years. Though he played some games in Slovakia during the lockout, he was eager to get into the Lightning lineup.
“It’s been nice to watch and get the feel for the games starting out with this 48-game schedule,” Tyrell said, “but I’m really excited to get in.”
Rotating the defense
Carrying eight defensemen on the roster left at least one out of the lineup for each of the first two games, but Boucher said he wanted to get each player into the lineup at some point during the opening three-game stretch. Tuesday it was time for Brendan Mikkelson to play after sitting the first two games, while Brian Lee and Marc-Andre Bergeron were scratched.
“We have eight defensemen who can all play and we have depth back there now, which we’ve never had before in the past three years, so we want to make sure our depth stays alive,” Boucher said.
Sun Sports announced that Saturday’s season-opening game against the Capitals set a broadcast record for the network for a season-opening Lightning game, recording a 2.8 overnight household rating. The broadcast peaked at a 3.4 rating.
Count Boucher among those who are looking forward to seeing the New York Islanders head to Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, which they are scheduled to do after the 2014-15 season.
Tampa Bay has lost four straight at Nassau Coliseum while being outscored 16-6 in those meetings, including Monday’s 4-3 loss.
“It’s been a nightmare, just a joke,” Boucher said. “There are ghosts just hanging around there that we are scared of, or I don’t know what. It’s just unbelievable. I’ve never seen our team play as bad as every single game we play in the Islanders’ barn. I just can’t wait until they move.”
Nuts and Bolts
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said D Slater Koekkoek, the 10th pick in the draft last year, had shoulder surgery in Detroit on Tuesday. Koekkoek is expected to miss four to six months. … Former Lightning G Dan Ellis is now the backup for Carolina after starting the season with the Hurricanes’ farm team, the Charlotte Checkers. … LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie was a healthy scratch. … Former Lightning G Kevin Weekes and LW Cory Stillman (a member of the 2004 Stanley Cup team) were in attendance.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning notes: Hectic schedule takes adjusting
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