The Tampa Bay Lightning's "new-look" power play has transformed from almost lifeless to dynamic over their past seven games.
The return of Steven Stamkos and addition of Ryan Callahan has now made it more of a "junkyard dog power play," according to head coach Jon Cooper.
"You put a shooter [Stamkos] in there, then put a guy in there that is fearless in front of the net [Callahan] and it equates to power-play goals," he said. "Honestly it's that simple."
Stamkos' shot has led to four power-play goals over his past seven games.
"Everybody knows about his shot," Valtteri Filppula said. "If he's open, we'll try to get the puck to him."
But if Stamkos is not open, it is no problem for the Bolts, who have learned to threaten in other ways.
"You want Stamkos to shoot the puck as much as possible, but teams' pay extra attention to him, so that opens other seams," Victor Hedman said.
A perfect example of this - last Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins when Stamkos faked a shot and sent a pass quickly across the ice to a wide-open Filppula for the goal.
Callahan and Ondrej Palat then add the X-factor in front of the net.
"This year we have Callahan and Palat that are willing to get in there and get the puck back for us," Stamkos said. "That's when you really wear teams down, when you get that second, third, fourth opportunity on the power play.
"I think that's been our Achilles heel in the past."
The formula has led to nine Tampa Bay power-play goals over its past 29 opportunities. With every point crucial down the stretch, the ability to score on the man advantage has been pivotal for the Bolts to collect at least one point in nine consecutive contests for the first time in a decade.
"Don't Be Afraid To Miss"
After missing in the past 15 rounds of shootouts and losing five of their last six games in that situation overall, Cooper told the Bolts "don't be afraid to miss."
Yet Hedman doesn't believe that mentality has clouded players' minds just yet. There has, however, been an emphasis on trying to win games earlier, as Hedman noted they haven't had much success recently in shootouts.
"I just think we should try to win the game in overtime rather than win in a shootout," Hedman said. "It's a tough spot to be in because it becomes a skills competition rather than a hockey game."
Other Odds 'n Ends
- Thursday's morning skate was optional.
- Ben Bishop will start in net Thursday versus the New York Islanders.
- The Islanders have started nine rookies in their past two contests. In their last game, five of those rookies recorded at least one point in a 5-4 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday.