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Lightning Round: Welcome to training camp 2.0

With both games against the Stars postponed, the Lightning will have a few extra practices this week.

NHL: JAN 15 Blackhawks at Lightning Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With a successful start to the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning will now go on a bit of a hiatus. Due to the Dallas Stars delaying the start of their season after having to shut down due to a Covid-19 outbreak, the Lightning’s scheduled games against them this week are rescheduled for May 4th (surprise Star Wars jersey night?!?!?) and May 10th. The coach gave them Saturday and Sunday off and now they’ll have three extra days of practices until they head off to Columbus for a game on Thursday.

One of the nice things with the rescheduling is that it doesn’t really compress the Lightning’s schedule that much. The May 4th game comes during what was going to be a three-day break between games and the May 10th game will be played during a buffer week the NHL had built into the schedule just for this reason. It’s a little rougher for the Stars who now will be playing four games in six nights in early May, including a back-to-back with Florida and Tampa.

That’s way down the road, though. For now, the Lightning are able to get some extra practice in with their full roster. Now that the season has dropped, practice time is going to be at a premium for many teams as they will be playing almost every other night. The spotty play over the last few days across the league shows that a s short training camp (with most practices split into two groups) left more than one team with the need for an extra practice or three.

The Lightning played well enough to beat the Hawks in both games, but as Coach Cooper might say, they “still have better in them”. There were moments of distress that shouldn’t have happened, especially in the second game. Transition from defense to offense could use a little help, as well the penalty kill.

They’ll need to be on the game as their next four games are against potential playoff teams in Columbus and Carolina.

Lightning Links:

The big news is that the Lightning have their first player in Covid-19 protocol. On Saturday, Curtis McElhinney was named on the list along with Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman. This does not mean he tested positive, just that he triggered something in the protocols that requires him to be isolated until he clears them, presumably with multiple negative tests.

If there was an opportune time for this to happen it was this week, with the Lightning not having any games scheduled until Thursday. In the unlikely event that he hasn’t been cleared by then, Christopher Gibson would serve as the back-up goaltender.

The Syracuse Crunch released their training camp roster and schedule for the next couple of weeks. There is a nice mix of veterans and young players. Goaltending is questionable for now with just Spencer Martin and Clint Windsor in camp, but there is a chance that Florida assigns one of their four goalies still with the team to Syracuse before things heat up.

The Orlando Solar Bears dropped a game against their in-state rival, the Florida Everblades, by a score of 6-3. Alan Lyszczarczyk, Dylan Sadowy, and Chris Leblanc scored for the Solar Bears.

Hockey News

The Islanders lost 5-0 to the Rangers. Part of the reason was that they had to make a last minute change in net after Semyon Varlamov was injured in warm-ups after a shot hit him up high.

Jake Voracek was big-time mad at a reporter after Friday night’s game. Broad Street Hockey provides some context as to why Voracek referred to a local writer as a “weasel”. It appears the vitriol was based on some articles and Tweets that Mike Sielski wrote regarding Voracek. NSFW warning on the attached link - weasel is the nicest thing Voracek said.

It appears that Jimmy Howard is set to retire at some point this week. The veteran netminder spent 14 seasons in Detroit, appeared in 543 games, and won 246 of them (third in franchise history). He struggled last year, appearing in only 27 games and was a free agent this offseason. Despite a lot of movement in the goaltender ranks, no one took a chance on the 36-year-old Syracuse native.

There were a couple of first NHL goals around the league on Saturday.

Yegor Sharangovich recorded his first tally in overtime.

While Tim Stutzle found the back of the net in Ottawa

Also scoring in the Ottawa/Toronto game - Joe Thornton

Some fun facts. Thornton scored his second career goal against Ottawa back on January 27th, 1998 when he was a young, non-bearded 18-year-old with the Bruins. One of the players who assisted on the goal back then was Ted Donato. Donato’s son, Ryan is now in San Jose replacing some of the playing time Thornton vacated when he signed with Toronto in the offseason.

The player that assisted on Thornton’s goal on Saturday was Mitch Marner, who was all of 10-months old when Thornton put the puck past Damian Rhodes way back in 1998.

What better way to get to know a new league than by participating in a fantasy league. The folks over at The Ice Garden have put together a league for the upcoming NWHL season.

Good luck to our fellow SBNation staffers over at Bucs Nation as they cover the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ playoff game in New Orleans today. Follow them on Twitter @Bucs_Nation for all of the latest news.