Tag: Matt Carle

Slater Koekkoek; Dion Phaneuf

Looking to make the leap: Slater Koekkoek


Depending upon how you define “making the leap,” plenty of Tampa Bay Lightning youngsters could qualify for this post.

That’s part of what makes the group GM Steve Yzerman assembled so scary: there are a ton of quality prime-age players who broke through recently or may break through soon.

Even beyond the very-young Triplets, you have Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Nesterov and Andrei Vasilevskiy expecting bigger things, possibly as soon as 2015-16.

There are plenty of almost-there guys who can make the jump, too, from Adam Erne to Anthony DeAngelo.

Here’s a vote for Slater Koekkoek.

As the 10th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, the 21-year-old seems like he’s primed for an arrival sooner rather than later.

He got his feet wet at the NHL level, playing in three games with the Bolts in 2014-15. While his AHL numbers won’t blow you away, the Lightning have every reason to give Koekkoek a chance to prove himself, as the likes of Nesterov, Andrej Sustr and even Matt Carle seemed to move in and out of Jon Cooper’s doghouse during the playoffs.

Speaking of Carle, he seemed impressed with the young blueliner’s skill when he debuted in April, as the Tampa Tribune reports.

“He skates really well, skated with the puck a lot and created a couple of chances on his own,” Carle said. “He was jumping up in plays. But I don’t think I played well enough to help him out. I kind of hung him out to dry on a couple of odd-man rushes. But he’s a talented kid who can skate well.”

Adding more mobility to a defense corps that includes Victor Hedman? That could leave Lightning fans leaping for joy.

Here’s what the Lightning will say about Bishop


If you’re expecting a lot of details about Ben Bishop’s condition, you’re out of luck.

Tampa Bay Lightning assistant Rick Bowness spoke for head coach Jon Cooper on Thursday, and his update on Bishop maintains the stats quo: he’s day-to-day with an unspecified issue.

There are some interesting details regarding the 28-year-old’s thought process before and during Game 4 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, however.

For one thing, it sounds like Bishop decided not to play last night:

That doesn’t mean that it was a comfortable experience for the towering netminder, however:

The Lightning have generally downplayed the differences between Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy, but Matt Carle pointed to two big considerations: puckhandling and communication.

Despite losing Game 4, the young goalie looked pretty sharp against the Chicago Blackhawks, and likely has a decent amount of confidence from his coaches and teammates. That could benefit him well in Game 5 … assuming he’s playing.

Chances are, we won’t know until moments before the puck drops on Saturday, but perhaps the latest Cooper swerve will involve actual transparency?

Bolts brush off talk of ‘must-win’ Game 2

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 4: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning speaks during a media availability at the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 4, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

TAMPA — The Lightning aren’t biting.

One day after a disappointing loss in the Stanley Cup Final opener, Tampa Bay faced the big question — after blowing a third-period lead and relinquishing home-ice advantage to Chicago, is Saturday’s Game 2 a must-win?

The answer, unequivocally:


“There’s no real must-win until you lose three games of a series,” captain Steve Stamkos said. “We’re confident in our ability to bounce back after a loss.”

The Lightning should be confident, given their experience in that department. The club lost its first game of these playoffs — Game 1 of the Detroit series — then bounced back with a 5-1 blowout win in Game 2. In the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers, the Bolts dropped the opener, then rebounded with a 6-2 thumping.

Sensing a theme here?

Ryan Callahan, one of the more veteran playoff skaters on the team, further deflected the notion of Saturday being a must-win.

“I don’t think there’s ‘must-win’ unless you’re facing elimination,” he explained. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and win every playoff game. That’s how you approach the game. You want to win it.”

Tampa’s ace in the hole, so to speak, is their ability to win on the road this spring. It’s a big reason why the players seemed generally unfazed at possibly heading back to Chicago down 0-2 in the series. The Bolts are road warriors — they won two games in Detroit, two games in Montreal and three in New York, including the first-ever Game 7 road victory in MSG history.

“We’re pretty confident in our road game,” defenseman Matt Carle said. “We’ve shown that a lot throughout the playoffs.

“When we’ve needed to have a must-win on the road, we’ve managed to pull it out. So I don’t think it really adds any pressure to tomorrow.”

Bolts’ Coburn missed final two periods due to illness

Braydon Coburn

The Tampa Bay Lightning were reduced to six defensemen for the final two periods of Sunday’s 2-0 win because Braydon Coburn was sick.

The Bolts’, who dressed seven defensemen with Matt Carle returning from an undisclosed injury, lost Coburn after the first period.

Tampa head coach Jon Cooper suggested the blue liner was physically ill on the team’s bench.

“I don’t know what TV cameras picked stuff up. We had issues on the bench, so I’ve got to find out more of what’s going on,” said Cooper. “But, there was, yeah. Don’t walk on our bench. That’s what I’m going to say.”

Coburn, who has a goal and two assists while averaging 16:36 in ice time in 18 playoff games, was limited to just eight shifts and 5:43 of ice time on Sunday.

Surging Stamkos: Lightning put Rangers on the brink


Make no mistake about it: Steven Stamkos is red-hot, and he’s taking his Tampa Bay Lightning with him. The Bolts blanked the New York Rangers 2-0 in Game 5 to grab a 3-2 series lead on Sunday.

Stamkos assisted on Valtteri Filppula’s 1-0 goal and then took advantage of some great passing from “The Triplets” to score a tap-in 2-0 tally on the power play. Those two goals came within a five-minute stretch late in the second period that really changed the complexion of a tight contest.

There were mistakes on both sides as Matt Carle and Keith Yandle coughed up some costly turnovers (among others). Ultimately, it seemed like the Lightning beat the Rangers at “their own game,” so to speak. Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman were brilliant at times in their own end, earning the praise they received in many circles.

Henrik Lundqvist was actually quite sharp, as his high-difficulty glove save on Stamkos might have ranked a little higher on highlight reels if the rest of the contest went better for the Rangers.

Instead, Ben Bishop enjoyed a nice rebound game in the form of a relatively easy shutout. It’s also probably accurate to say that Tampa Bay’s special teams scored a serious win over New York’s power play and penalty kill units.

Fans at Madison Square Garden even lightly booed the Blueshirts heading into the second intermission:

The big story is probably the continued rise of Stamkos. He tied a Lightning playoff record by scoring a goal in his fourth consecutive game and now has seven points in that four-game span. His confidence has been as obvious as his point-scoring, too, really.

Bishop managed to steal some spotlight in the third period, although the Lightning defense showed they can play that lock-it-down style of defense when they need to. (A wide-open style might be their preference, but you need to show that you can switch gears, too.)

Rangers fans have a right to feel down. New York carried the play for significant stretches, yet they find themselves on the brink of elimination once again.

It’s no secret that Alain Vigneault’s bunch tends to ratchet up its efforts a few notches with everything on the line, either. They fought back from 3-1 series deficits both in this postseason and their lengthy 2014 run.

They’ll need to dig deep yet again, but at least they know – from experience – that they can do it.

Meanwhile, you can’t begrudge Lightning fans if they’re excited about being one win away from the big time: