On Thursday at Germain Arena in Estero, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Guy Boucher changed things up a bit at practice, opting to hold drills and implement systems for the first half, while choosing to scrimmage during the second half with a lot of emphasis on special teams.
The idea, in a way, was to cover all the bases so to speak during a training camp that is drastically condensed, ensuring players will be ready leading up to Saturday’s season-opener at home against the division-rival Washington Capitals.
Here are a few highlights from Thursday’s on-ice session:
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
With Cory Conacher’s play still being heavily assessed by team management, and with the youngster playing on a line again on Thursday with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell, some chemistry has seemed to develop among the trio in terms of on-ice communication.
Perhaps that’s because Lecavalier, serving in his role as captain, has somewhat taken the young Conacher under his wing this week at camp.
Not only did Conacher receive praise from head coach Guy Boucher earlier in the week, but on Thursday, some more high remarks came his way, this time from Lecavalier himself.
“He’s a fast skater and he’s a really smart player,” Lecavalier said. “I don’t think it’s going to take him too long to be successful in this league.”
A good portion of Thursday’s scrimmage dealt with a lot of power-play scenarios and focused in general on the special teams.
Bolts head coach Guy Boucher again emphasized how important it is to have not just one, but two power-play units, and expressed his excitement about how much hiher he expects this season’s power-play efficiency to be with the additions of both Matt Carle and Sami Salo.
On Thursday, the first power-play unit consisted of Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone and Sami Salo, while the second unit was comprised of Vincent Lecavalier, Benoit Pouliot, Tyler Johnson, Matt Carle and Victor Hedman, with Cory Conacher and Johnson occasionally switching out interchangeably.
“It was really 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 last season where we didn’t really do very well, so obviously we’re going to try and change that,” Boucher said. “Our goal also for this season is to have two power-play units for 5-on-4, which will also make us better. I also see the quality of the defensemen we have as being a great option for us. Those guys are really going to improve our power play.”
PLAYING IT SAFE
Guy Boucher admitted Wednesday that he had a tough time getting the message across to players that he wanted them to play hard, just not too hard.
Head Coach Guy Boucher runs the team through changes to its power play plans for the season.
With this year’s training camp and schedule both abbreviated as it is, the Lightning really cannot afford to have any injuries capable of keeping players out of action for extended periods of time.
So, while he certainly wants to prevent any injuries from taking place this week, he also understand that there are a handful of players looking to prove themselves in order to earn a roster spot.
Thursday, however, proved that perhaps Boucher’s message wasn’t heard by all.
Early on during Thursday’s session, goaltender Anders Lindback was barreled into inside the net, but fortunately popped back up and said afterwards that he was fine.
The incident came not long after Pierre-Cedric Labrie also crashed into netminder Mathieu Garon earlier this week, although he too brushed it aside by saying it was no big deal.
Both instances, of course, were accidents, but still, talking to Boucher following Thursday’s practice, it was not hard to understand his cause for concern.
Guy Boucher said following Thursday’s practice that the team he puts on the ice for Friday’s practice will be the team that takes the ice on Saturday night for opening night versus the Capitals.
Syracuse Crunch defenseman and Lightning frequent call-up from last season, Evan Oberg, cleared waivers.