Wednesday closes out the Tampa Bay Lightning’s last four-day break in action this season, besides the Christmas and Olympic break.
With a rare amount of time before their contest with Edmonton at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Thursday, it can sometimes be a blessing and sometimes be a curse to have so much time in between.
The Lightning welcomed the added rest this week, as the next stretch of games will keep the Bolts on their toes.
“Not too often in this league do you get a ton of rest,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “We have to take advantage of the rest now because we won’t be getting it in the next three weeks.”
Ultimately though, how they respond to the time off will determine if it was a good or a bad thing.
“We’ll see tomorrow,” Valtteri Filppula said. “We’ve had a couple days off and some good practice days. Personally I feel pretty good, but we’ll see how the games go. That’s what’s going to tell us if we did the right things.”
Starting Thursday, Tampa Bay plays 12 games in 24 days, including two sets of back-to-backs.
PLAYING THEIR BEST VS. THE WEST
Boasting a 5-0-0 record against the Western Conference, the Bolts look to go 6-for-6 Thursday. When asked about what makes the Lightning so successful against teams they have not seen since the 2011-12 season, teammates could not pinpoint one exact thing to attribute their success to.
“I don’t know if it’s any one thing,” Matt Carle said. “It’s more or less just focusing on our systems and trying to play our game.”
Carle also said that the Lightning have not required much time to get acquainted with the West despite the lack of games played.
“We are not going through that feeling out process that you usually have when you haven’t seen a team in a while,” he said. “We are going to do that tomorrow night too.”
This season the Bolts have defeated the Chicago Blackhawks twice, the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues once each. Three of the four have already won nine games this year.
Cooper and Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins have some history. The two played against each other in the American Hockey League Calder Cup Finals.
“You kind of pull for guys who come up with you,” Cooper said. “He was a lot of fun to play against in the AHL, but it was probably a little better for me because we ended up coming out on top, but we’ve had some battles.”
Besides poking fun, Cooper mentioned that he was happy for his colleague getting a gig with the Oilers and that he’s been impressed with how the teams Eakins has coached have performed.