The Tampa Bay Lightning returned to the ice today as training camp 2.0 commenced in preparation for a long playoff run. A run in which we hope ends with the Lightning bringing the Stanley Cup back to Tampa.
33 players were at Amalie Arena for the two practice sessions today and most players were excited to be back on the ice in the age of “New Normal.”
Steven Stamkos was at the arena today skating alone working on his conditioning. Cooper will not rush Stamkos back and said the goal is to have him ready to play August 1st when the round-robin games begin for the Lightning.
Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn were two of the Lightning players that spoke to the media via zoom and Johnson talked about the restrictions that will be in place inside the bubble in Toronto.
“You’re going to have to be mentally strong to be able to succeed in here, But at least if we’re stuck with anyone, I’m glad we’re stuck with our guys. We usually have a lot of fun together so I’m not too worried about that.”
Johnson said that he had been skating in Idaho five days a week and he felt great.
Alex Killorn was asked if the Stanley Cup Champion should have an asterisk next to it due to the way the season has played out.
“People have the right to put an asterisk on it if they want, but I think if you win it, your name is going to be on the Stanley Cup forever and you can tell people that you were a Stanley Cup champion winner for the rest of your life.”
Coach Jon Cooper said that he didn’t know what he would be feeling after the first practice but came away feeling great.
“I’m not sure what I wanted it to be, to be honest, but I know how I wanted to feel when I left. I wanted to feel great, and I did. That’s a positive sign. I liked where the guys were at. I wasn’t sure what my expectations were going to be, but it was all positive. Ultimately, I was excited to be back, and I felt that vibe from the guys as well.”
Cooper went on to say that this will be a Stanley Cup Playoff run like no other with some of the challenges that players will have to overcome.
-Playing games with no fans
-Submitting to daily testing.
-Everyone is away from their family for an extended period.
However, the biggest challenge according to Cooper will be the team’s mental state and how quickly they can get dialed up.
The Lightning will play one preseason game before the round-robin games begin for playoff seeding. The first round of the playoffs will begin on August 11th.
The intensity level will increase dramatically from the preseason game to the first playoff game. The Lightning will need to be ready to go as soon as the puck drops.
The margin for error will be slim to none.
The Lightning appeared to be healthy except for the Stamkos injury.
This playoff run has the potential to be one of the best Stanley Cup Playoff runs we will see in quite some time.
All teams should be healthy and everyone 100 percent which should make for some great hockey.