It is becoming pretty obvious that the Tampa Bay Lightning’s young roster will make errant steps in the wrong direction at times, but each and every response afterward has been immediate.
That is hopeful for a team who has a lot of learning to do as they turn the page to the next game and realize that it may be more difficult than the last.
Heading into Thursday’s contest, head coach Jon Cooper called for the blueline to step-up their offensive impact and that they did.
Whether it was Matt Carle netting not only the first goal of the game, but just the second tally by a defenseman this season, or Victor Hedman’s game-tying goal in the final frame or even the blueline’s five-point contribution, they answered the bell.
“There was a real emphasis on getting shots to the net, creating chances and playing as a group of five in the offensive zone,” Carle said. “I think a lot of us took that to heart and were able to chip-in offensively.”
After Hedman’s poor showing in last Saturday’s loss to the Boston Bruins, he was a team-high minus-5, he rebounded quickly. Hedman finished the game with two points, including a goal that came minutes after blocking a hard shot off his foot.
“It couldn’t have gotten any worse from the loss in Boston,” Hedman said. “I felt like my legs moved good Thursday. I created some plays and I just wanted to bounce back hard. I didn’t want to lose confidence in myself after one loss; I just went back out there and played my game.”
“In this league you play 82 games, you have to be able to turn the page and that’s what Victor did,” Cooper said. “He’s very coachable. He’s got that youthful exuberance and wants to learn.”
While it seemed that Hedman held the 5-0 loss to the Bruins heavy on his shoulders, he is still young and mistakes are expected. There is also an entire team that needs to be held accountable too.
“I know Victor had a tough statistical game and I’m sure it stung for a while, but we didn’t score a goal,” Cooper said. “You can never pin a game on one player. He showed he can turn the page and step up his game.”
Having a chance to see a player like Hedman, young yet still a veteran, continue to grasp confidence despite a bad outing, gives the Tampa Bay blueline a boost of confidence as they closeout a seven-game homestand tomorrow. It is also something that has not gone unnoticed.
“Victor can have those rare games where he’s minus-5 and he can go out the next night and be a major contributing factor in beating the defending Stanley Cup Champs, you got to love that about him,” Cooper said.
The Bolts schedule does not get easier from here according to Cooper.
“All of a sudden we took a quick peak at November and we’re just petrified looking at those teams,” he said. “Then you look at December and it’s non-stop. Everybody in the league is exceptional.”
Cooper went on to say that he’s pleased with the way the Lightning have handled their workload so far and that the team needs to continue to grab points where they can.
ODDS ‘N ENDS
Hedman did not participate in practice Friday afternoon, opting to take a maintenance day instead.
Cooper did not give exact details on if both goalies would be making a start in the Lightning’s first set of back-to-backs this weekend, but said there was a “pretty good chance” that Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback would both play.
When division-rival, the Buffalo Sabres, come to town tomorrow, they will be in their second game of back-to-backs, as they face the Panthers in Sunrise, Florida Friday.
Saturday and Sunday’s back-to-back is the Lightning’s first set of 12 this season.