An intense scrimmage, as promised, is just what fans in attendance received at Germain Arena in Estero on Tuesday afternoon.
The Tampa Bay Lightning took to the ice from 10:30 until 12:30, which was a bit of a change from Monday evening’s session that began after the sun had already set. The first hour of practice featured head coach Guy Boucher running through drills and implementing systems, while the second half was yet another intense scrimmage.
Here are some of the highlights from Tuesday:
THE MAGIC STICK
Somewhat of a camp unknown, forward Kyle Wilson notched a goal again during Tuesday’s scrimmage, a 3-1 contest taken by the White team, which was playing under the name the Walleye.
Wilson, who came over to Tampa Bay in the Anders Lindback deal, seems to have the hot touch among the guys in attendance this year, as his goal was the second in as many days after he also notched a marker on Monday evening.
His two-day goal total in camp is now half of his NHL career total in the same category. So, what’s been the difference this week in getting off to a hot start?
“I’ve been working really hard out there, just going to the net and looking for a couple of puck bounces,” Wilson said. “But I have to make sure I save some of that luck for when the season actually starts.”
EARNING THE OPPORTUNITY
For a second straight day, Lightning forward prospect Cory Conacher played on a line with captain Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell.
On Monday, Conacher called the opportunity “a dream,” but he is hoping his situation will soon become a reality.
Conacher is among the most watched players at camp this week, as he is one of the organization’s top prospects and is expected to compete fiercely for a roster spot on opening night.
So far, he hasn’t disappointed, as he looked poised with the puck out on the ice both Monday and Tuesday, and had at least two steals in the offensive zone that were a credit to his ever-evolving and improving defensive game.
After all, head coach Guy Boucher is a huge fan of guys who play well at both ends and who are not limited to just offensive inclinations. As for Conacher, he said he is just focused on making the most of his chance this week.
Center Kyle Wilson was acquired by the Lightning as part of the June 15, 2012 Lindback trade with the Nashville Predators.
“It’s the same mentality that I’ve always had, which is working harder every day and knowing that nothing is given to you,” Conacher said. “You never know how anything is going to turn out, so for right now it’s all about keeping the coaches happy and doing the little things that they want you to do to develop as a player.”
NEW IN TOWN
Despite being new to the Bolts, forward Benoit Pouliot said he is adjusting well to life in Tampa Bay, as well as to head coach Guy Boucher’s system, which Pouliot said was “very different” than the style he played as a member of the Boston Bruins last season.
Pouliot, who is coming off a season in which he registered an NHL career-high 32 points, said he has had some discussions with both Boucher and general manager Steve Yzerman in regards to where he fits in and what his role will be, although he was hesitant to disclose any details.
Regardless, Pouliot said he is willing to “just do whatever coach wants” and expressed his excitement about starting the season at home on Saturday against the division-rival Capitals.
“I feel like I have a lot of speed and a good shot, so those are some of the things I want to use, but it’s wherever they want to use me and it depends on the lines,” Pouliot said. “When the day comes, we’ll figure it out, but where I start or with who I start doesn’t matter. I’m going to play my game and come in looking to contribute.”
ODDS AND ENDS
The White Team emerged victorious in Tuesday’s scrimmage, getting two goals from Tom Pyatt and an additional tally from Benoit Pouliot. Pyatt also had an assist for a total of three points on the day, while Kyle Wilson scored the lone goal for Team Blue.
Cory Conacher played on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell for a second consecutive day, while Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone were paired together also.
Defensive pairings also perhaps began to take shape, as Victor Hedman and Sami Salo pretty much played exclusively together on Tuesday, as did Eric Brewer and Matt Carle, although Carle did spend some time during the morning with Brian Lee.
The team participated in a shootout at the end of practice on Tuesday, in which Ryan Malone and Cory Conacher were the only players to score.
Matt Taormina did not skate on Tuesday.