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Lightning Round: making adjustments after a “dud” opening night

And the banner raising.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 12: Head coach Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena on October 12, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost their first home opener in seven years at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2. Cirelli and Killorn scored, but Jon Cooper made it pretty clear the whole team lacked any sort of work-ethic or motivation and that was the reason they lost, not skill or lineup decisions.

“Early (and I mean early) signs show that the Lightning still doesn’t really know how to replace Yanni Gourde’s impact. The match-up workload was always going to increase for Tampa’s top six, but they struggled this evening. There were flashes of control and the normal Lightning dominance, but far too often they were pinned in the defensive zone chasing the Penguins.” [Raw Charge}

Matt (who wrote the recap) and I spoke on our re-birthed Charged Up podcast that this Lightning team was going to see lots of adjustments and experimentation in order to find the best combination of players and roles come playoff time. That work was evident early on as the Lightning had a stonking bad preseason, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they looked like a mess in Game 1. However, lineup decisions and team chemistry wasn’t the problem with the team’s performance last night, it was clearly a lack of attention.

So adjustments need to be made; namely in the form of mindset and remembering that they’re no longer Stanley Cup Champions, this season’s award hasn’t been handed out and it’s going to take a lot of work to bring it back home for the third time. So hopefully this game brought the team down a peg and reminded them that this team doesn’t work when the players don’t work hard.

Looking at individual performances, it wasn’t a good night for anyone, but Taylor Raddysh making his NHL debut definitely looked like he needed some time to get used to the pace of play in the NHL. Hopefully he can adjust, because Alex Barre-Boulet isn’t an option behind him anymore.

Also, here are some cool new visualizations from Bryan Bastin of On The Forecheck, our Nashville Predators sister site.

Bad news done, let’s get to the good news!

The Tampa Bay Lightning raised their 2021 Stanley Cup banner and celebrated another championship at AMALIE Arena.

And of course it was brilliant to see Sonya Bryson-Kirksey happy and healthy and singing the anthem at AMALIE again.

Jon Cooper signed a lucrative extension over the summer that was announced yesterday. We don’t know how much he’s making, but it’s in the “tier” with John Quenneville with Florida, who makes $5.5 million per year with the Panthers.

“Early Monday morning (anything before 9:00 AM on a Monday following a Bucs victory should be considered early) the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up a little piece of lingering business as the organization announced that head coach Jon Cooper had signed a three-year contract extension. His new deal will carry him through the 2024-25 season. As per usual, financial terms were not disclosed, but we can assume he was handsomely compensated for his time.” [Raw Charge]

And here’s a story from Joe Smith on the transformation of Nikita Kucherov.

New York Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov wants off the team after he was cut to the AHL after training camp. I’ll be honest, he hasn’t been impressive anywhere he’s played for a few years now so while I think it’s funny they kept some heavies over him, I don’t think they were completely out to lunch in not picking this 6’3” 21-year-old.

Depending on the price, I think the Lightning could really do with taking a swing on a prospect like this. They certainly have the need to find some forwards up front and especially skilled forwards. The team also has a good history with Russians and a community that can help insulate this young player. The Lightning are a good team with offensive weapons to work with and it’s easy enough to create openings in the roster.