With day three in the books as the Lightning prepare for their playoff run in just a few weeks Coach, Jon Cooper is slowly ramping up the intensity.
“As we slowly progress, the practices will get harder. They will get more intense. We added a little bit of body contact so that always amps things up. But guys were pretty engaged”
Defensemen Victor Hedman is all for the intensity of practice. Hedman knows what it takes to make a deep playoff run and he is counting on his Lightning teammates to ready to go on August 1st.
“For us, it’s about getting into that playoff mentality right away, so you’ve got to have kind of that mentality going into practice. You’ve got to leave it all out there. You’ve got to empty yourself and play the way you’re supposed to play. You’ve got to play your role from the start and get your body and your mind ready for it.”
We have heard this kind of talk before in past seasons and then watched as the Lightning were snuffed out in a playoff series barely putting up a fight.
The Lightning is going from zero to 60 MPH in 30 days as they go from minimal skating to controlled scrimmages, to playing an exhibition game, to starting the playoffs.
The Lightning will need to be ready to play once the plane lands in Toronto.
There will be no time to get acclimated and get a feel for your opponent and the game.
Cooper said they will try to replicate games as much as they can. “That’s why we’ve got as many guys in camp to be able to play games where we won’t have the full complement of 12 and six but we’ll be close and so we can get a lot of things done. It’s just going to be like this whole camp.
Today the Lightning had their first actual scrimmage of camp with a 30 minute simulated game.
Defensemen Ryan McDonagh said the guys were ready to go and get as close to a game situation as possible.
“Guys were anxious to scrimmage. For those guys that have been through the small groups, it’s a lot of drills, maybe some small games, but there’s nothing like 5-on-5. You can’t emulate it, no matter what drill you do, the bounces of the pucks, the changes in the game. It was a day guys were looking forward to. I think the coaches realized that, and it was a lot of fun and energy out there to get this thing rolling.”
McDonagh said that the play was pretty crisp with not a lot of errors. “I think the thing I was impressed with was it wasn’t too sloppy for the most part. Wasn’t too many turnovers and wasn’t too many odd-man looks, so for the first day that was encouraging and relatively low-scoring game. It’s somewhat odd for us, but at the end of the day we want to play the right way and take care of the puck and I thought that was a good start to our scrimmages here in camp.”
Coach Jon Cooper was also impressed with the way things went today in the scrimmage.
“It was fast. It was uptempo. The guys were competing hard. I liked what went on today. I wasn’t sure what to expect. You know you’re not going to see any big, physical hits or anything, but guys were taking guys out. Guys were being responsible. You look for the compete level, and it was most definitely there today. But I’ll tell you, for these first three days I couldn’t be happier with what’s going on, and hopefully this continues because on the compete level we’ve taken some big steps.”
Copper said the Lightning will be off tomorrow and will scrimmage again on Monday.
The NHL announced today that the Lightning will play their exhibition game against their in-state rivals the Florida Panthers on July 29th.
That game will begin at noon.
The league also announced the times for the first two Lightning games in round-robin play. The first game on Monday, August third against Washington, and the game on Wednesday, August fifth against Boston will begin at 4 pm.
The broadcast schedule has not been announced. In the past, the NHL has used the NBC sports channel and CNBC to broadcast some first-round playoff games.