You know things are bad when a coach gets a vote of confidence.
And that’s exactly the situation in Tampa Bay these days — it’s bad. The Lightning have lost four straight and sit four points back of a playoff spot. And because of that, GM Steve Yzerman has had to go to bat for head coach Jon Cooper.
“I think (Cooper) is doing an excellent job,” Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday.
“I like the way we play. I like the style. We’ve got to improve in some areas. The type of play our coaches, led by Coop, want the team to play I’m very comfortable with. We’ll get through this and these situations make us all better. And for Coop, who is still a relatively young coach, all these experiences, he’s learning from them.”
All the injuries are certainly not Cooper’s fault. The Lightning, you may recall, were going along just fine until Steven Stamkos had to have knee surgery. They were 10-6-1 in the 17 games the captain played. They’ve gone 9-13-3 since.
That’s just two of the injuries the Bolts have been forced to endure. There have been others. Many others. According to the Times, the Lightning were at one point without six of their forwards. Right now, there are four players on IR — Stamkos, Brian Boyle, Brayden Point, and J.T. Brown.
As for Bishop, he says he’s “ready to go”, meaning he could get the nod tomorrow at home to Buffalo. Given the standings, the Bolts will need at least one of their goalies to get into a groove. Andrei Vasilevskiy has really struggled lately; he’s allowed 20 goals in his last four starts, all regulation defeats.
After the Sabres game, the Bolts host Columbus Friday, and then they hit the road for six straight.