Saturday, November 25, 2017
  • Lightning Strikes
  • Joe Smith

Lightning’s speed key against Anaheim

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The Lightning has rolled through the typically-tough West Coast trip, beating the Sharks and Kings by a combined score of 10-3.

Those are two stingy defensive teams, and Tampa Bay dominated them.

"I don't ever remember us coming out here and playing this well," wing Alex Killorn said.

The key has been the Lightning using its speed, in both the rush and forecheck, to thwart bigger teams. That'll be the focus tonight against the Ducks, the last team to beat Tampa Bay in regulation (4-1 on Oct. 28).

"Our speed has been pretty evident (the past two games)," captain Steven Stamkos said. "Not only our speed with the puck, but hounding the puck on the forecheck, creating turnovers in the neutral zone and playing quick. Our (defense) has done a great job not only joining the rushes but moving the puck quick, getting the puck on the hands of the forwards. That's when skill and speed takes over."

The Ducks are banged up, with star center Ryan Getzlaf out 2-3 months. But Tampa Bay remembers how Anaheim took it to them at home a few weeks ago.

"They did a very good job last game of neutralizing our speed and not letting us get through the zone," Ryan Callahan said. "They're a bigger team, they hold onto the puck really well. The key is trying to close them out early, because once they get the body between us and the puck, it's hard to knock them off."

Other notes:

*Ryan Callahan, who missed Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, said he's ready to return tonight in Anaheim. Would imagine Tampa Bay goes with the same 11/7 lineup (other than Callahan back in for Dumont, Andrei Vasilevskiy in for Peter Budaj). But center Cedric Paquette (undisclosed) is a wild card, as he continues to progress,  and is close to returning.

*After going to arbitration, the Lightning and former wing Jonathan Drouin agreed to a settlement on 90-percent of a $212,500 performance bonus from last season, the Times has confirmed.

The discrepancy revolved around the provision where Drouin needed to average at least .73 points per game for the bonus to kick in. And after racking up 53 points in 73 games, it looked like Drouin got it. The Lightning, however, felt Drouin fell short because his points-per-game was .726 when taken to another decimal point.

An arbitration hearing was last month, but the two sides came to an agreement a few weeks later. Canada's Sportsnet was the first to report the settlement.

*With forward Mark Recchi getting inducted into the Hall of Fame Monday, Stamkos reflected on the impact the veteran forward had on him as a rookie. They didn't play together long, just the first half of the 2008-09 season, but Recchi helped take the 18-year-old under  his wing.

"He was a big influence off the ice," Stamkos said. "We lived in the same community, and he had me over for dinners with his family and things like that. It was really cool as an 18-year-old to have a guy like that who was still so productive at the end of his career. Just his work ethic and the way he went about loving the game and working hard to still be successful at that age was very impressive."

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