The Tampa Bay Lightning took to the ice this morning to hold the team’s pregame skate in preparation for tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m., but here are some key takeaways from this morning’s session:
LINEUPS, INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
Ben Bishop will start in goal tonight against Ottawa, his former club, but said he rarely ever feels nervous before games, even ones such as tonight against the Senators, with whom he played 13 games this season before being acquired by the Lightning.
“Maybe there’s some advantage to playing a team you’re familiar with, but once you’re in net, you know who’s shooting the puck, but it will still be interesting,” Bishop said.
Despite tonight being Bishop’s fourth consecutive start, he said he feels good from a mental standpoint, although “there are a lot of emotions.” Still, he added, “there will be a lot of adrenaline to get me through it.”
Defenseman Mark Barberio prepares to make his first NHL start tonight for the Lightning.
On the injury front, Jon Cooper said Ryan Malone is close to returning, and could even be in the line-up tonight, but will be a game-time decision.
Victor Hedman, meanwhile, Cooper made it seem, was not close to returning and said he probably would not appear in either home game this week.
With that said, expect Mark Barberio to make his NHL debut tonight on defense, likely paired with Radko Gudas, who he lives with in Syracuse.
Barberio, recalled yesterday from the Crunch of the American Hockey League, is known as a puck-moving defenseman with good poise, who has a knack for joining the rush on offense.
Barberio might even get some power play time tonight, according to Cooper, but more importantly, the young defenseman countered, was “to make sure to keep things simple, get the forwards the puck, and play responsibly in my own end.”
NOTES AND NUMBERS
-Mark Barberio will be the Lightning’s eighth rookie to make his NHL debut, which marks the most in the league this season
-Tampa Bay has scored six third period goals in two games against the Senators this season
-Sami Salo has collected points in both games versus Ottawa and has 12 points in 12 career games against the Senators (one goal, 11 assists)
-In three games with the Lightning, Ben Bishop is 1-2-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .945 save percentage
-The Lightning have gotten strong production from their rookies this season, led by Alex Killorn, who has recorded points in four of his past five contests, including two third period game-tying goals.
THEY SAID IT
Jon Cooper, on how he plans to use Mark Barberio:
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do for the last three years in the American League, so we’ll use him to his strengths. He’s got some great offensive instincts, and he might sneak on to the power play for a little bit, and there’s no reason to change where he’s played in the American League up here just because he’s in the NHL.”
Jon Cooper, on going up against Cory Conacher tonight:
“It’ll be a little surreal. I’ve gone to war with that kid for a year and a half, but that trade was just one of those true hockey trades. It helped both teams and I don’t think there will ever be a per se winner or loser in that trade. It was a win-win. But it hurts, especially with guys who you have won with before, and he was a big part of that.”
Jon Cooper, on his decision to play Ben Bishop against his former team:
“I would be remiss not to. Of course that plays into it. He’s been great for us and maybe his stamina is the only thing I’ve been worried about a little bit, but I’ve spoken with him and he feels great. So if that’s the case, then he gives us no reason for me to pull him out.”