Lightning Home Opener Victory

Palat LRAfter a tough close out to the 2018-2019 season, The Bolts bounce back with a 5-3 home opener victory versus in state rivals, the Florida Panthers! In Thursday night’s home opener, not only did we see many new faces, Carter Verhaeghe, Pat Maroon, and Kevin Shattenkirk, but we saw a new Lightning mentality on the ice, a more defensive mentality.

Early in the 1st period you saw the bolts taking a focus to playing defensively, Coach Cooper mentioned in an earlier press conference that after last season, they were going to focus on defense. It’s a benefit that the Lightning have a Vezina Trophy winning goalie in Vasy, but they can’t over work or rely on him, they must do better protecting him. In terms of giving Vasy a break, backup goalie, McElhinney has shown to be a talent in the net as well during his time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Palat came out very physical removing guys from plays and helping the Bolts have extended offense time. As the Lightning relentlessly attacked the Panthers goal, eventually Sergachev positioned himself to get a pass off the Kucherov for the 1st goal of the night.

Heading into the 2nd period, Panthers, Mike Hoffman tied up the game, but that didn’t last long, Sergachev was not done making his point to the Panthers, at the halfway point of the 2nd period, Sergachev set up new comer, Shattenkirk to land his first goal as a Bolt, putting the Lightning up, 2-1. Florida kept at the Lightning net, but the defense was consistent in their prevention of any further goals that period.

3rd period for a moment could have been anyone’s game as the Panthers, Vincent Trocheck put a wrist shot on goal. Not too long after Palat responded with a tip-in and in then Hedman found Pat Maroon at the head of the crease to assist him in his NHL debut goal, putting the Bolts up 4-2. Then in the final face-off of the night defensive player, Erik Cernak, shot off of a pass from Cirelli to score an empty netter, officially closing out the home opener, Lightning 5, Panthers 2. In post-game interviews Palat mentioned how everyone wants to win their home opener and the momentum it will give at the Bolts head out for their two-week road trip starting with another game versus the Panthers, Saturday October 5th at BB&T Center.

Stay up to date with all Lightning coverage and updates at Floridanationalnews.com!

Lightning Updates Leading into the Home Opener

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The Lightning wasted no time Monday morning making many changes to solidify their roster. This pre-season, the name Carter Verhaeghe stuck out a lot to say the least and we should look forward to hearing it more as Verhaeghe not only officially made the Lightning roster yesterday, but will be making his NHL debut wearing jersey number 23 at the home opener Thursday night against the Panthers. Saturday night, after the pre-season finale, Verhaeghe said that he felt like did everything that he can do and that he had a good game and something he could build off. Verhaeghe’s focus was to just keep on improving, which was confirmed noticeable by coach Cooper in Saturday’s press conference, Cooper said ” Verhaeghe has been impressive, he’s come along a lot in the last 2 years”. The Lightning have been known to see the right kind of spark in athletes and present opportunities for them to take off in their career.

In other good news, Brayden Point was back in a regular jersey for Monday’s morning skate, indicating that we can expect to see him sooner rather than later in the season. Point is finally pain free after managing to push through a torn labrum in his hips and hip surgery this past spring. The ability to be versatile is in full effect as well with Luke Witkowski, an original defensive player now rostered at wing, he’ll bring a needed physicality up front.

Unfortunately as much as we heard Volkov’s name and some strong skating out of him this pre-season, Volkov was waived and sent up North. As for some questionable players heading into Thursday’s home opener, Paquette more than likely will not play and Johnson, and Hedman will be a day to day evaluation. The potentially fitting line up for the home opener is looking to be:

Palat-Cirelli-Killorn
Joseph-Gourde-Verhaeghe
Maroon-Smith-Witkowski

McDonagh-Cernak
Sergachev-Shattenkirk
Coburn-Rutta

Lightning Pre-season Finale

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A chippy scoreless pre-season game that led to shoot outs, put the Panthers up 1-0 to top the Lightning in the pre-season finale. Last night was an unexpected neck and neck match up. The Panthers and the Lightning battled it out just to get on the board, the Panthers with 28 shots on goal to the Lightning’s 26, kept the score 0-0. In the first period, the Panthers looked to set up and maintain more puck possession than the Lightning, displaying Tampa’s defensemen’s strengths and of course it helps to have one of the best goalies in the net, Vasilevskiy.

The second period the Bolts came out skating a bit harder, we saw more play set ups and shooting, but seemed as if they Lightning were taking too much time to set up for goals. Early in the second period, Cedric Paquette got tangled up with a couple Panther players, causing an undisclosed injury. Shortly after Paquette left the game, Tyler Johnson got pulled, later Coach Jon Cooper said that he pulled Johnson for more precautionary measures rather than a worrisome injury. The loss of Paquette and Johnson was unfortunate, but we saw a lot of talent out of Verhaeghe with his skating and puck handling, Coach Cooper said that Verhaeghe has come a long way in the past two years and it’s been impressive to watch, he has good hockey smarts and we caught many glimpses of that in the game. As for Verhaeghe sealing a spot on the roaster, coach says we will see what takes course over the next couple days as they make their final cuts. Verhaeghe said that he’s played hard and at this point it’s not up to him if he makes the roster, so we will see what takes place soon.

Tampa Bay showed a lot of physicality through out the whole game, which will be a force in the coming season. An advantage that the Bolts are marinating is that they their defensive players are not afraid to take offensive opportunities. Defensive player, Luke Witkowski, has played Forward in the last two games, which can bring a versatility to this team. Another defense player stepping into a combination role is Erik Cernak, a physical defensive player who took 5 shots on goal. He’s not afraid to go for the slap shots on the perimeter.

Cooper said that regardless of the loss that he liked what he saw in the game, his players played very well and now it’s time to finalize the roster over the next couple of days and focus on the home opener. The Lightning will host the Panthers again Thursday night to officially begin the 2019-2020 NHL season.

Stay tune with Florida National News for this season’s Bolts coverage!

Lightning at Panthers Pre-season Game 5

LP_1We are heading into the final week of pre-season games, as the Lighting reside down south for the week and then play their last pre-season game at home Saturday, September 28th. The roster has trimmed day by day and as of late there has been some not too surprising, yet somewhat shocking cuts such as, Mitchell Stephens, Alex Barre-Boulet, Ross Colton, Cory Conacher, Nolan Foote, Callan Foote, Chris Mueller, Otto Somppi, Spencer Martin. While, Cameron Gaunce, Dominik Masin, Ben Thomas, Scott Wedgewood have been placed on waivers.

The roster will potentially leave a little wiggle room seeing as how the Lightning and centremen, Brayden Point came to contract terms with a 3 year/ 20.25M deal but Point most likely will still be out the first couple games of the season, due to hip surgery in the spring. Point says he is pain free and almost back to normal. The Lightning has shown to be consistent contenders for the past 2 seasons being division champions in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons and a 2014-2015 Stanley Cup Finals appearance. A 2018-2019 Tampa Bay made it to the playoffs yet again but got knocked out earlier than expected by St. Louis. With the Lightning’s many close calls to being in the Stanley Cup or almost winning the cup, crafting a specific roster will be crucial for the Bolts to help not only get them back to playoffs, but potentially another Stanley Cup appearance!

These are the last few games for the guys to own their spots, heading into tonight’s match up, you see more familiar faces in the lineup. Tonight’s line up: Forwards; Cirelli, Gourde, Joseph, Killorn, Kucherov, Maroon, Palat, Smith, Stamkos, Verhaeghe, Volkov. Defense; Cernak, Coburn, Hedman, McDonagh, Sergachev, Shattenkirk, Witkowski. Goalies; McElhinney, Vasilevskiy. We’ll see who continues on the roster after tonight’s game.

Stay updated with Lightning news at Florida National News!

 

Predators at Lightning Pre-season Game 3

Bolts Coach Cooper

Tonight, was the night, not only did the Bolts score, but they beat the Predators 3-1. In the first period, fearfully the Predators got off an early goal at 15:32 in a power play, setting a similar pace and energy as games one and two. Continuing into the first period, the Lightning were not getting as many shots on goal as their opponent and received two penalties. Frustrations flared as the Bolts attempted to step up, but the Predators’ goalie, Saros blocked some impressive shots challenging the Lightning.

Second period, coaching corrections were more apparent. Lightning came out with more passing and structure causing the game speed to pick up. We saw a lot more hustle out of Alexander Volkov, Carter Verhaeghe, and Danick Martel. As the second period closed out the Bolts still didn’t mark the board, but the third period brought a lot more aggression and persistence. The Bolts picked up speed, forcing the Predators to match pace or fall behind and Nashville fell behind.

Volkov tied up the game, encouraging a momentum the team used to close out the game. Head Coach, Jon Cooper said that Volkov had a solid game, stating that Volkov shot it tonight and that’s what happens when you shoot it. With just 38.6 seconds left in the game Nikita Kucherov scores a goal securing the lead and then with 15.4 seconds left he hits another goal, burying the lead and confirming the Lighting victory for pre-season game three.

Predators at Lightning Pre-game

Pred Light1

The Lightning are coming off a double loss versus the Hurricanes this week, so the team will be fighting for their first pre-season game win tonight versus the Nashville Predators back in Amelie Arena. The pressure is on for Lightning players as head coach, Jon Cooper says, “the bottom line is there are spots open on this team, probably more than there have ever been before”. At this point Cooper is evaluating to see what players will not only fit his system but bring something to this Lightning team. Although it Is just pre-season, the bigger issue is the zero goals in two games. Which will heat up the competition for the forward positions.
Mitchell Stephens has been a solid player in Tampa’s pre-season thus far, showing reliability in penalty situations game 1 being a plus. Wednesday night’s game 2 versus the Carolina Hurricanes, there were still unfortunate penalties, but the Bolts were 5 for 5 in penalty kills. Another stand out player in the pre-season is J. Huntington, Huntington is said to potentially be another undrafted free agent that can have a breakout career with the Lightning. Huntington said in a recent interview, “I see my role as a two-way forward, playing defense and offense”, something that can contribute to this Bolts team, as well as the physicality Huntington can bring as well. Heading into tonight’s match up with the Nashville Predators, the Lightning will hopefully minimize penalties and land their first goal. We will see tonight which forward will get the job done.
Puck drops at 7pm tonight, stay updated with Florida National News!

Hurricanes at Lightning Pre-season Game 1

preseason game 1

Although our Florida National News fans voted in the game day poll for a Tampa Bay Lightning win, that was not the pre-season game 1 result. Carolina topped Tampa Bay 3-0. The Hurricanes came out in the 1st period with an early and successful shot on goal by Max McCormick and that somewhat set the tone for the game. The Lightning struggled and beat themselves in the six penalties they racked up.

The six penalties cast an even larger shadow on tonight’s matchup, seeing as Coach Jon Cooper said that penalties were a highly worked on and emphasized situations in training camp. One Lightning player that didn’t disappoint with penalty situations was Mitchell Stephens, Coach Cooper said that Stephens was on the puck quite a bit. When asked about the penalty kills in the locker room, Stephens said “I worked on face offs a lot this offseason”, and it showed.

Lightning Forward, Danick Martel had a similar response about the penalties and the need to correct them moving forward, but as for his own performance in the game, Martel says “I just need to skate harder, even if I mess up, I got to get up a skate”. It is just game one of the pre-season and the team faces the Hurricanes again tonight in Carolina with a chance to build off last night’s lessons.