Tag: Tampa Bay Lightning

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

Is Tyler Johnson injured? Speculation grows


The cliche is probably somewhat true: it’s plausible that everyone’s a little banged up by this time of year.

Still, there’s a difference between “regular trips to the ice bath” and having injury issues limiting your effectiveness, and the buzz is building about rising Tampa Bay Lightning star Tyler Johnson.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie brought up some credible concerns, wondering if Jonathan Drouin’s possible Stanley Cup Final debut may coincide with a less-than-healthy No. 9.

Even with a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1, the Lightning have enjoyed quite a bit of success with an extra defenseman in their mix (going with 11 forwards and seven blueliners). McKenzie wonders if this situation will bump that back to the traditional setup of 12 forwards and six defensemen.

Johnson says no, stats say maybe

Good luck getting any transparent injury updates this far into the playoffs – teams aren’t even divulging which half of a player’s torso is in jeopardy at this point – but the 24-year-old is denying that he’s hurt. For whatever that’s worth.

The speculation is fueled by a poor game by the standards of Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. They didn’t perform well whether you look at deeper possession stats or merely note that the trio failed to generate a point and only combined for two shots on goal. (Kucherov and Johnson finished Game 1 with -1 ratings, too.)

Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times that he isn’t injured, but admits that “The Triplets” need to up their collective game.

“Our line right now, we’re playing just average,” Johnson said. “We’re not doing as well as we should, and we know that. It’s time for us to step up.”

Johnson dismissed the injury scuttlebutt while Lightning head coach Jon Cooper doesn’t seem too concerned about this mini-slump for “The Triplets.” That concern may build if Game 2 doesn’t go Tampa Bay’s way, though.

Columnist suggests Stamkos has fallen out of favor with Cooper

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Practice Sessions

With the Tampa Bay Lightning searching for the equalizer during the final minute of Game 1, captain Steven Stamkos was on the bench watching as the Chicago Blackhawks skated away with a 2-1 win.

It’s a move Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons called odd in his piece on Friday.

Simmons goes on to suggest that the reduced ice time coupled with the demotion to the Bolts’ second line could add up to Stamkos finding a new home after next season when he is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Once upon a time, it seemed far fetched that he would ever leave Tampa Bay. But he’s now playing the wing instead of centre, getting second line minutes for a coach who doesn’t favour him. The narrative has changed.

Stamkos, who has averaged 18:01 in ice time per game in these playoffs, finished the Game 1 loss with 17:17 in time on ice. He played 5:29 of the third period down from the 7:02 he played in the second.

“I go out and do whatever I can every shift,” said Stamkos. “That’s all I can control.” When asked about the final minute of play, he said: “I want to be out there. If you ask every player they want to be out there … You have to believe in yourself that you’re a difference maker.”

When asked about it following Saturday’s morning skate, Jon Cooper got defensive.

“I don’t know what that means,” said Cooper when asked if Stamkos would see more ice time in Game 2. “Should I just play him the whole game, like all 60?”

When reminded of Stamkos’ Game 1 ice time, Cooper replied, “Okay. So if he plays 20 minutes, I should give him two more shifts. I’ll think about that tonight.”

Stamkos scored 43 goals and 72 points in 82 games while averaging 19:22 of ice time during the regular season.

He went eight games without scoring to begin the playoffs and he’s now failed to score in three straight games – two of them losses.

Stamkos needs to start scoring, yes. But to suggest he may be looking for a new home after next season is probably still far fetched.

Bolts’ Drouin to take warmup, could play Game 2

Jonathan Drouin, Carey Price

Lightning rookie Jonathan Drouin will take the pre-game skate tonight in Tampa Bay and could be an option for Game 2.

The 19-year-old has not played in nearly a month with his last action coming in Game 4 of the Lightning’s second-round series with the Montreal Canadiens.

“They want to trust me in the (defensive) zone, I want to be a player that’s put in any situation,” said Drouin per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m working my way up there”

Drouin hasn’t taken part in the team’s pregame skate since he last played, which was back on May 7.

He has appeared in three games in these playoffs registering a minus-4 rating to go along with two penalty minutes while averaging just over 11 minutes in ice time.

“Jo, he’s a talented player. We’ve watched him grow this season,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “He gives us a different look when he’s in the lineup. It’s hard to sit here and say what you expect.

“We expect our guys to produce, stick to our structure, play as hard as you can, look in the mirror at the end of the day and say, I have no regrets. If he’s in, that’s what I expect.”

It’s uncertain of who may come out of the lineup, but forward Tyler Johnson did leave the team’s morning skate briefly.

He told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston following the morning skate that there was no doubt about his playing status tonight.

Puck drop on Game 2 is at 7:15 p.m. ET on NBC.