Here we go! It’s the last week of workouts for the Tampa Bay Lightning and they’re going to kick things off on Monday with a scrimmage (streaming live at their website). It’ll be a good benchmark to see where the players are at conditioning-wise, and give us a hint as to what the coaching staff is thinking in regards to line combinations and defensive pairings.
Could we see Steven Stamkos skating on a top line? It sounds like everyone will get at least a couple of shifts, but how long he plays may depend on how he’s feeling. Cedric Paquette didn’t participate in group action on Sunday, but he was skating on his own. I would list him as questionable as well.
At this time next week the Lightning should be in Toronto checking out the amenities that HotelX has to offer (and it seems like they have quite a few). So, that makes this week extremely important in terms of getting up to game speed and making sure they’re clicking in all facets of the game.
They spent a good portion of Sunday working on one-v-one battles, a key part of playoff hockey. There is going to be a lot of mucking along the boards over the next few months and that is something the team struggled with last year against Columbus.
The biggest mission for the week is for the Lightning to get to Toronto healthy and virus-free. Yet, they still have to get ready for what could be a rough round robin tournament (the stakes may not be high, but have any games against Washington, Boston, or Philadelphia been easy?). It’s a fine line the coaching staff has to walk, but it should be fun to watch.
New and Notes:
Sidney Crosby left the ice early on Saturday. Everytime that happens now everyone’s COVID-19 radar goes up. In this case it seems the former best player in the league is dealing with some sort of discomfort. Crosby, who is coming off of core surgery (like a certain captain of the Lightning) reportedly felt “something off a little bit”. Erring on the side of caution, he ended his workout early. The organization had no comment, because, well, they can’t. [The Athletic - subscription required]
The sources were not fully aware of the exact location of Crosby’s discomfort but said he has been especially cognizant of “anything that doesn’t feel right” since returning in mid-January after missing 28 consecutive games following a procedure in mid-November to repair a core muscle injury.
For Brad Marchand, the upcoming playoffs will be a trip back to his younger days. Staying in the same hotels, watching other teams compete after your game is over, those things do remind me of the travel baseball tournaments I used to go on in my younger days (including one such tournament where we all crowded around a TV watching the OJ chase). It’ll be interesting to see if teams hang out in the arenas to watch other teams. [NESN]
“Yeah, I don’t think anything is going to be like this,” Marchand told reporters during a Zoom call Saturday, via the team. “This is going to be different than anything. It’s almost like going back to being a kid again and going into a tournament where you’re watching other teams play right after you, you finish your game and go watch the next one and you all kinda stay at the same hotel. So this is more like being a kid than anything, except you’re not allowed to go anywhere and do anything other than play hockey, which is a good thing, right?”
It’s too bad that Connor McDavid hasn’t looked right in training camp. Wait. What’s that now?
While the majority of NHL fanbases are preparing themselves for whatever we’re calling the postseason, lest us not forget those poor, unfortunate few that have only the draft to look forward to this fall. Like the Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit News takes a look at some players that may be available after the first round for the Red Wings. That also means they might be around when the Lightning actually have a pick. [The Detroit News]
Jean-Luc Foudy, C, Windsor – Central Scouting ranked Foudy 33rd among North Americans thanks largely to an intriguing skill set. Foudy is only 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds and didn’t have a breakout season, but you get the feeling the best is yet to come.
“Just standing there beside him, just to be there and to talk to him, made a big impact on me,” O’Ree said Saturday. “I’m so happy I was able to be there in his presence and give him a hug, shake hands with him and watch a hockey game.”