Victor Hedman

Lightning hope that defensive additions will help reverse fortunes


Remember back in November when the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning entered into a controversy over the Lightning’s 1-3-1 defense? Well, it takes on a different flavor when you take a look at the results.

The Tampa Bay Lightning allowed 3.39 goals per game in 2011-12, which was by far the worst in the league. Part of the issue was their goaltending, which they began the process of rebuilding this summer by adding youngsters Anders Lindback and Riku Helenius. However, their defense also needed some work.

To that end, they signed Matt Carle and Sami Salo over the summer. Both of them are capable of playing big minutes and Carle in particular should do a good job of moving the puck up and making life a little easier for the Lightning’s talented scorers. Carle might also help the Lightning with the man advantage, which is another area they were weak in last season.

They will probably join Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer as the Lightning’s top-four defensemen. As things stand, Tampa Bay now has eight blueliners signed to one-way contracts, and a couple others, like Keith Aulie and Matt Taormina, who have NHL potential.

That should provide them with the extra depth necessary to cope with the injuries that occur during a long season. Given that only two of their defensemen played in more than 61 games last season, it might be their added depth that proves to be the difference in 2012-13.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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