Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Tampa Bay Lightning

Practice Notebook: End of season goals come into focus for Lightning

by Bryan Burns / Tampa Bay Lightning

Hanging from the rafters of Amalie Arena are two Southeast Division championship banners the Tampa Bay Lightning won during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

The Lightning are closing in on adding a 2014-15 Atlantic Division banner to the mix.

With eight games remaining in the regular season, Tampa Bay trails Montreal by a single point.

Those two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the Atlantic pack. Third-place Detroit is nine points back of the Lightning and 10 away from the Canadiens, although they have two games in hand on both teams.

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop said winning the Atlantic isn’t part of the Bolts’ thought process currently.

Instead, they have loftier goals.

“I think our goal now is to try to win the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the league,” Bishop said. “That’s our goal, that’s what we’re going to try to do. At the end of the day, wherever we fall, we fall. I don’t think we can expect anything less than trying to win every game.”

The Lightning are tied with St. Louis, Anaheim and the New York Rangers for second overall in the NHL behind Montreal. Thursday’s opponent Nashville is a contender for the Presidents’ Trophy too with 98 points.

In the Atlantic, the Lightning continue to play catch up against Montreal despite owning a 4-0-0 record and outscoring the Canadiens 16-5 with one game remaining.

Tampa Bay is 18-3-3 overall in its division.

“Right now, it’s just focusing on winning every game, and we’ll see where that goes,” Bishop said. “If that’s winning the division, that’s winning the division.”

PAQUETTE QUESTIONABLE

On Tuesday, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper indicated Cedric Paquette probably wouldn’t return to the Bolts lineup until the team’s upcoming road trip, which starts Saturday in Detroit.

But following Wednesday’s training session, Cooper said Paquette might see the ice earlier than expected.

“I would say he would be, in football terms, questionable potentially,” Cooper said about Paquette’s status for Thursday’s game against Nashville. “He’s definitely in the mix.”

Paquette has missed six-straight games since suffering an upper-body injury in the road victory over Montreal on March 10. The 21-year-old Paquette has scored 12 goals and added seven assists during a breakout rookie season.

View More