A season-long seven-game homestand awaits the Bolts on Thursday evening and winning two of three games on the road is just what the Tampa Bay Lightning had hoped for.
“It’s nice to come home with a couple wins under your belt,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “You want the fans to be pumped up for you and you want to be pumped up for them. The schedule scenario has been working out pretty well.”
Though playing at the Times Forum has its advantages, an extended stay at home carries the possibility of players becoming too familiar with their surroundings.
“In a perfect scenario you would like a couple games at home and a couple on the road,” Cooper said. “You would like it to be broken up, but when everyone gets their schedules, no one is completely happy. If you’re going to play on a seven-game trip I rather the seven games be at home than on the road.”
Still, Cooper was pleased overall with the Lightning’s 2013-14 schedule. When the schedule is initially released, the first thing Cooper looked for was the “big picture,” including their travel to Canada and the West Coast as well as back-to-back game scenarios.
He also hopes to continue to build off of their most recent success on the road throughout the next three weeks.
“A lot of our season is bookended between a long homestand in the beginning of the season and a long homestand at the end, with a whole ton of games on the road in the middle,” he said. “It would be really nice to build some momentum here.”
PYATT INJURY UPDATE
Forward Tom Pyatt, who suffered a broken collarbone in the third period of the Lightning’s last game against Buffalo is expected to miss a prolonged period of time according to Cooper.
“You’re probably looking at Thanksgiving and not the Canadian one,” he said. “It’s too bad because he was playing well, so I feel for him.”
Pyatt had been skating for the first time this season versus Buffalo and was a part of the team’s second-line with Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn.
Cooper kept mum on who might be starting in net in Thursday’s home-opener versus intrastate rival the Florida Panthers.
“We have to get them both in,” Cooper said. “There is a thought of ‘are you going to carry the hot hand or is it too early to start carrying the hot hand?’ It’s not like [Anders] Lindback forfeited starts because of his play, he’s played extremely well, but so has Ben [Bishop].”
Regardless of who gets the nod Thursday, Cooper said he is confident with both netminders playing between the pipes.
ODDS ‘N ENDS
The Lightning do not expect to rush their decision on whether or not to recall a member from their AHL affiliate the Syracuse Crunch just yet. With three players scratched each game, Cooper said he was comfortable with a roster of 22 players right now.
Expect to see Teddy Purcell skating on the third-line with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson tomorrow after playing exceptional on the line Tuesday. Purcell also leads all Bolts with two power-play goals.
Lightning players and coaches were welcomed for the first time to their new locker room Wednesday afternoon. Cooper helped transform the area into what he called a “winning environment.” Throughout the dressing room the Bolts cans see the history of Tampa Bay and who has walked the halls before them, as well as the team of today and who is walking the halls currently.