Following a brief two-game road trip in which the Bolts were in action on back-to-back nights, the team returned to the ice on Thursday after enjoying a day off in between to get back in game shape and to prepare for a season-long five-game home stand that kicks off Friday against Ottawa.
Here are some of the highlights from Thursday morning:
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher did not disclose the lineup he would go with for Friday’s game against the Senators, but did say that goaltender Anders Lindback would get the start between the pipes.
Boucher said the decision, of course, had nothing to do with the play of Mathieu Garon on Tuesday, as Garon was fantastic in allowing just one goal in a 4-1 victory at Carolina.
Rather, Boucher is anxious to see more of Lindback for the sole purpose of getting him some games and making him more comfortable by exposing him to more NHL action.
“Garon played great, but right now we’ve got a young goaltender in Lindback who we want to build up,” Boucher said. “He’s a young guy and he’s played well, so we need to get him some minutes. The situation is we want to give [Lindback] an opportunity to grow, and Mathieu is a professional and understands that.”
SO FAR, SO GOOD
With the team returning back home, and with Cory Conacher doing the same with nearly a handful of games under his belt, the Bolts forward has seemed to fit right in to his new team, with his adjustment seemingly coming with little difficulty.
In just three games, Conacher has already recorded two goals and three assists, and as of Thursday, ranked tied for first with St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko among all NHL rookies in points.
It is an impressive start, and head coach Guy Boucher said he is hardly surprised, but there is more to Conacher than just his offensive inclinations that has caused Boucher to take notice.
“He’s young and a he’s a smart kid, and honestly, what I like is that he’s committed defensively,” Boucher said. “He’s got the offense, but I like his backcheck and he blocks shots and that’s why he gets ice time. If he didn’t do those things, he wouldn’t be getting ice time.”
Guy Boucher expressed his confidence in the team’s offense on Thursday, but when asked about how the team quickly moved on from what was considered a poor effort on Monday against the Islanders to rebound the following night at Carolina, he quickly pointed out a theme that would carry through for the rest of the year.
It’s going to be defense first. That’s our mindset, because we’ve got the offense. We need a defensive transformation, and that’s a whole team mentality and philosophy that we need to step up with now. - Guy Boucher
“It’s going to be defense first,” Boucher said. “That’s our mindset, because we’ve got the offense.”
Boucher was pleased with how the team responded in its first road win of the season Tuesday, mentioning how the Bolts gave up only 11 scoring chances throughout the entire game, and just four of what Boucher classified as “Grade A” chances.
“We need a defensive transformation, and that’s a whole team mentality and philosophy that we need to step up with now,” Boucher added.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
Friday’s game will be the first chance for Bolts captain Vincent Lecavalier to be honored by the home fans for appearing in his 1,000th career game on Monday on Long Island.
Prior to the puck drop, Lecavalier will be honored with a silver stick to commemorate his milestone, which he expressed his excitement about on Thursday.
“I have a lot of family and friends in town who have come down for this, so I’m anxious to see it and be a part of it,” Lecavalier said. “The fans have been great all through the years and have supported me, so even though I played my 1,000th game on the road, I’m glad they’ll get to be a part of the celebration.”