Sure the Tampa Bay Lightning are seeing a drastic turnaround on the offensive end as of late, but what has been behind the sudden outburst? According to the Bolts it has been their backend improvements that have contributed to their success on the score sheet.
"Because we're playing so well in all ends of the ice, that's the reason we're getting so many shots and scoring so many goals," Nate Thompson said. "I'm most impressed with the number of goals we're giving up because we're not giving up a lot of goals or chances."
The Lightning have taken 30+ shots in four straight games and have seen a power-play tally in three consecutive matchups, meanwhile they have only allowed seven goals against over their past five, while the penalty kill has allowed just 13 goals through 28 games.
"The less we're playing in our defensive zone the more chances we're going to get," Thompson said. "Whenever a team doesn't have many chances it's hard for them to get going and that's a plus for our offense."
The turnaround on the blue line continues to be impressive with what seems like constant shakeups from the defensive core. Most recently two veteran blueliners who eat up a lot of minutes on the ice, Eric Brewer and Sami Salo, are doubtful Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.
"We've battled a lot of injuries and it's going to be the same tonight," Victor Hedman said. "We have some new faces back there this year and everybody has done a great job of stepping in and handling the task."
BREWER WILL TRAVEL
After missing Monday's game in Sunrise Brewer (upper body) donned a red, no-contact jersey during Saturday's morning skate.
The defenseman participated in nearly all the team's drills and said that he is currently "feeling out" the injury.
Head coach Jon Cooper said he didn't expect the defenseman to miss an extended period of time and Brewer confirmed that he will be on the Bolts road trip to Western Canada which begins on January 1.
At the end of practice Friday evening it was announced that defenseman Dmitry Korobov would re-join the Bolts with Brewer and Sami Salo expected to miss tonight's game.
"He adds size, strength and has a little bite to him as well," Cooper said. "When you lose those types of players in your defensive core you fill the void with players like Korobov. If he plays tonight, that's what he's there for."
Korobov has skated in one game with the Lightning this year, but spent nearly two weeks with the team during his first recall. The reason behind spending so much time with the club was to get himself acclimated with Tampa Bay.
"The one thing you need to get over when you walk into our room is seeing the Martin St. Louis', the Steven Stamkos', the Victor Hedmans'," Cooper said. "Same thing happened to [Nikita] Kucherov and [J.T.] Brown when they joined the team; they looked around the room wide-eyed until they realized we're in the battlefield together."
ODDS 'N ENDS
- Ben Bishop left the ice first after Saturday's morning skate and will start in net tonight for the Lightning.
- Salo did not skate for the second straight day since returning from Christmas break.
- Cooper had not decided if the team will go with 12 forwards and six defensemen or 11 forwards and seven defensemen. He said he would skate with 21 players during warm-ups and it would be a game-time decision.
- Tampa Bay will wear their third alternate jerseys for tonight's game.
- Prior to his debut with the Bolts, J.P. Cote last skated in an NHL game with the Montreal Canadiens on February 4, 2006 against the Boston Bruins.