The Tampa Bay Lightning held their pregame morning skate on Friday, the first under new head coach Jon Cooper, who will make his NHL head coaching debut tonight against the New Jersey Devils.
Some things leading up to tonight’s game:
LINEUPS, INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
Jon Cooper announced this morning that Mathieu Garon will get the start in net tonight.
Garon looked spectacular in his last game, allowing only one goal after approximately 57 minutes of shutout hockey during Tuesday’s 2-1 Lightning win over Buffalo.
As for the rest of the lineup, Cooper was still undecided as of this morning whether or not to go with six or seven defensemen.
If he does go with seven however, all indications, judging by Cooper’s facial expressions and body language, point to Andrej Sustr.
Dana Tyrell and Marc-Andre Bergeron were the last players off the ice this morning, so it appears that each of them will be scratched.
New head coach Jon Cooper makes his debut behind the Lightning bench on Friday.
Cooper had no injury updates to offer regarding Vincent Lecavalier or Anders Lindback, but did at least say that Lecavalier “laced up the skates, which is a good sign.”
NOTES AND NUMBERS
-Teddy Purcell has recorded the primary assist on eight of Steven Stamkos’ goals this season, which is third-most among NHL teammates. Only Sidney Crosby, who has recorded the primary assist on 10 of Chris Kunitz’s goals, and Matt Moulson, with the primary assist on 12 of John Tavares’ goals, have more.
-Martin St. Louis is one of just four NHL players this season to not go consecutive games without a point, joining Evgeni Malkin, Andrew Ladd and Chris Kunitz.
-The appointment of Jon Cooper as Lightning head coach marks the first time in the 19-year history of the Syracuse Crunch that the team’s top guy behind the bench has directly been promoted to an NHL head coaching position.
-The Bolts have scored a power play goal in each of their past two games, while the Devils haven't allowed a power play goal against over that same stretch.
-Steven Stamkos has tallied at least a point in 25 of the Lightning’s 33 games this season
THEY SAID IT
Jon Cooper, on whether he likes going with seven defensemen as opposed to six:
“I didn’t do it a whole lot until pro, but I’ve gotten used to it and I think there is a real value to it. I didn’t mind having a seventh defensemen in there, especially if some of your six are somewhat of the pugilistic type. Some of those guys might not be around for a long time, so you could definitely use an extra one.”
Andrej Sustr, on his emotions should he play his first career NHL game tonight:
“As of right now it’s not too bad, but if he tells me that I’m playing, then I’m sure I’ll get more nervous. It’s just getting ready for any other game. It’s nothing I’ve never been through before. I’ve played my first game in college and at other levels, so I just need to be comfortable.”