Can Jon Cooper reboot the Bolts?


Despite the kind of star power that portends great things, the Tampa Bay Lightning face a host of problems, even after a busy summer.

On paper, it’s tough to say that the Bolts got much better this offseason, either. In the grand scheme of things, their best chance of turning things around might come down to some virtuoso work by still-new head coach Jon Cooper. So, does he have what it takes?

His resume

Cooper took over the team in late March, so he didn’t exactly get much time to handle a sulking squad; while he won his first game behind the bench, he didn’t exactly work miracles in a 5-8-3 run. Still, that amounted to little more than a dress rehearsal.

Much like his predecessor Guy Boucher, Cooper is still a fresh-faced coach, but success has followed him in his stops so far. He won a championship at both the AHL and USHL level before Bolts GM Steve Yzerman hired him to replace Boucher.

If nothing else, he’s been a smash success so far in his coaching career.

His approach

Cooper must play the right notes with a defense that looks awfully shaky beyond centerpiece Victor Hedman and 2012 acquisition Matt Carle. Goaltending remains a significant question mark, too.

It’s also worth debating whether Tampa Bay’s offense took a step back this summer, as the team most notably bought out Vincent Lecavalier while they signed Valtteri Filppula and drafted Jonathan Drouin. There’s a pretty steep drop-off from the team’s big names and their depth forwards, too, so scoring goals might be a little tougher than one might expect.

Still, if there’s one strong early sign, it’s that Cooper says he’s emphasizing structure on defense while giving his offensive stars plenty of leeway to create chances. He told the Tampa Tribune as much on March 28.

“I’m not going to go out there and teach Steven Stamkos how to do a one-timer. He’s got that one figured out,” Cooper said. “I’m not that guy that says this guy has to go here, and Marty, you have to go here.

“You get full possession of the puck … have at it, boys.”

His acting chops

It’s anyone’s guess if the 45-year-old coach will translate his success at other levels at the NHL. The roster, for one, implies that it might take a while.

If nothing else, it seems like he’ll keep the players loose, though. Puck Daddy unearthed this rather interesting testament to his sense of humor:

Video: Flyers’ Konecny scores first NHL goal

Leave a comment

Through six games of the NHL season, Travis Konecny enjoyed a nice start to his rookie campaign with five assists. Just one thing was missing, though.

On Tuesday, he took care of that against the Buffalo Sabres.

Konecny, taken 24th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, deflected an Ivan Provorov point shot early in the third period, beating goalie Anders Nilsson on the glove side for his first NHL goal.  That goal also got the Flyers on the board.


Konecny and Provorov make Flyers, expected ‘to be here all year’

WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Sharks

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks and Paul Martin #7 of the San Jose Sharks defend against the shot of Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks during a game at Honda Center on December 4, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

California rivals clash tonight, as the Anaheim Ducks visit the San Jose Sharks. This marks the first meeting of the season between the two Pacific Division teams.

The Sharks have lost two games in a row, while the Ducks have won two straight.

You can catch tonight’s game on NBCSN or with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (10 p.m. ET).


Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Brent Burns is on a beastly pace

Report: Ducks put Despres on long-term injured reserve

NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

Video: Looks like Bishop lost some teeth after taking a shot to the mask

Leave a comment

Difficult night for some goalies across the NHL.

Frederik Andersen has had his struggles against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, although the players in front of him haven’t given their puck stopper much help, either.

And then there is Bolts goalie Ben Bishop, who took a Peter Holland wrist shot off the mask and appeared to lose some teeth as a result.

But this is hockey. Bishop, who even appeared to crack a smile while being examined on the ice, remained in the game.

Video: Sabres make Flyers pay after Giroux slams Girgensons from behind into the boards

Leave a comment

Claude Giroux was called for boarding after plastering Zemgus Girgensons from behind into the boards in the second period. But the Buffalo Sabres made the Philadelphia Flyers and their captain pay.

Giroux was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. He promptly exited the penalty box, though, after Matt Moulson scored six seconds into the Sabres power play, giving Buffalo a two-goal lead.

Girgensons and Moulson scored less than two minutes apart to give Buffalo the lead.