The Tampa Bay Lightning have talked a lot this offseason about the expectations heaped on the team after finished second in the Atlantic Division and earning the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season.
Thursday, during media interviews at Amalie Arena to open training camp for the 2014-15 season, Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos talked about how the Lightning are going to have to be ready to get every team’s best shot this season.
“I think we have to realize it’s going to be tougher this year,” Stamkos said. “I know the expectations are higher, but we’re not going to surprise anyone this year. The young guys that had great seasons last year, it’s going to be a challenge for them too. Teams are going to know what to expect. In that regard, I think we can use that motivation that teams aren’t going to be surprised by the Tampa Bay Lightning anymore. They’re going to come in here expecting a good game.”
Stamkos said he’s looking forward to seeing how some of the Lightning’s talented youngsters can perform once the lights are on and the Amalie Arena stands are packed.
“I think (I’m most excited about) the mix of the younger guys that are coming in and getting a chance to prove themselves again this year, guys like [Jonathan] Drouin and [Brett] Connolly that can get a chance and come in," Stamkos said. "I’m excited about that. I’m excited about the new faces that we have on this team, veteran guys that know how to win in this league, that can bring an element of leadership and just a calming presence to our team. We have a healthy mix this year and it’s been great so far getting to know all the guys. We kind of feel the chemistry that’s starting to grow, the camaraderie with the guys. It’s very exciting.”
Stamkos said the broken tibia he suffered midway through the 2013-14 season is no longer an issue. He feels healthy, although he’s still a month or two from declaring himself 100%
“It felt great. I did all the tests. No issues,” he said. “I’m just excited heading into this year knowing how much better it feels now than it did heading into this year. I didn’t know what to expect heading into the summer. It was a good summer… Probably around the year mark is when it’s going to feel probably back to normal. I’m just excited at the way it feels compared to the way it ended off last year.”