TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning had an optional skate Saturday morning with 10 players participating. But don't think that coach Jon Cooper's casual attitude means he is taking the Detroit Red Wings lightly.
"This is paramount for us, to get points before we go into the break," Cooper said. "It's a division opponent, it's someone we are battling for a playoff spot. I'm not classifying this as a Game 7; we'll still be in the playoff hunt when we return from the break. But stopping the bleeding now would be really nice."
And there has been some bleeding, as the Lightning are on a 1-4-0 run and hold a slim one-point edge over the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division. Saturday's opponent, the Red Wings, sits five points back.
"In regard to the break, there are a lot of teams in this League probably wishing this break never came, and there are a few teams in this League that are wishing it started a week ago," Cooper said. "And we are probably one of those teams."
With Valtteri Filppula sidelined with an ankle injury that is expected to sideline him at least three weeks and Ben Bishop day-to-day with an upper-body injury, the Lightning recalled forward Vladislav Namestnikov and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis from the American Hockey League. Namestnikov will make his NHL debut Saturday.