It was the first day of on-ice sessions for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the camp of 62 players, which was split into three different groups, participated in a high-tempo practice that consisted mainly of getting acclimated with the system head coach Jon Cooper would like to implement and that he’s found success with at the other levels.
With the prospects (“Group Thomas”) skating first, the next two groups (“Group Bowness” and “Group Gwozdecky”) were split between the Bolts core and a handful of players on the bubble to make the final roster.
DROUIN GETS COMFORTABLE
Jonathan Drouin skated officially for the first time with the Lightning’s top players and was happy with his performance overall.
A player much like Drouin just a short time ago, Stamkos also did his due-diligence in making sure the 18-year-old was getting situated.
“[Stamkos] came and talked to me and gave me some tips, it was good from his part,” said Drouin. “It’s a great sign that he wants to help me and build chemistry.”
Drouin’s biggest challenge Thursday seemed to be the speed of the game and endurance.
“It was a tough practice and I’m pretty happy it’s over,” he said. “When you look at all the older guys they don’t stop for one second, they go hard until the whistle blows.”
NEW, YOUNG TEAM FOR FILPPULA
Not only is Valterri Filppula’s team new, but it’s young too, adding to the many factors he faces in his transition to Tampa Bay.
“I feel older, it’s weird for me,” Filppula said. “I’m one of the oldest guys now. Even though I’m not that young anymore, I’m used to being in the younger crowd, so that’s a little bit different.”
Despite the question of age, Filppula said that no matter what team you’re on, players are relatively similar, as hockey helps bond teammates together.
Filppula also added that regardless of his age, he always hopes to step up more as a player and leader.
“I don’t think it matters how old you are,” he said.
When head coach Jon Cooper was asked if he’s looking to use Bolts netminders Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback in tandem or if one of the two would emerge as the starter he said, “it’ll resolve itself over time.
“I’ve been through this situation before at various levels. In the American Hockey League we won a Calder Cup basically splitting goaltenders,” Cooper continued. “I think it can be healthy. Would you like one guy to take the reins and be the guy? Well of course you would, but they’re both unbelievably capable.”
Cooper also said there’s “no question” that Stamkos should take a lead on helping Drouin with his possible role on the Lightning.
“The education goes beyond the coaching staff and the hour and a half we have with them,” he said. “It’s the 22-and-a-half hours that he’s around those guys that really help.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Ryan Malone-Stamkos-Marty St. Louis made up one line combination today, while Vladislav Namestnikov-Drouin-Brett Connolly formed another. Victor Hedman-Sami Salo were also paired together Thursday. A familiar combination from last season.
Players got down to the basics of learning Cooper’s system. They also spent a majority of practice working on rushes/breakouts, as well as playing as a five-man unit.
Getting “comfortable” seemed to be a common theme echoing out of each dressing room Thursday.
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