Notebook: A Heavy Emphasis on the Blue Line

Friday, 09.13.2013 / 3:40 PM
Missy Zielinski  - Lightning Beat Reporter

Special attention has been paid on changing what once was a porous Tampa Bay Lightning defense, which allowed more than 400 goals in the past two seasons, during this year’s training camp.

One way head coach Jon Cooper hopes to drive this change is by instituting a two-way minded Lightning team.

AN EASY CONCEPT FOR SUCCESS

While the team didn’t have long to adapt to Cooper’s system during the 2012-13 campaign, as far as blueliner Victor Hedman’s concerned, it’s a pretty easy concept.

“It’s a matter of communication and making those simple plays,” he said. “That’s the biggest key for us, keeping it a little bit simpler.”

For newcomer Val Filppula and rookies, like Jonathan Drouin, Hedman believes they’ll learn the system quickly, adding the reminder that it’s all fairly new for the Bolts core too.

“I think we only played 15 games under Coach Cooper last season and they’re both smart players,” Hedman said. “I think they’re going to pick it up pretty quick and training camp is 19 days, so they’ll handle it very well. I’m excited for them to be part of this team.”

It also means being able to take the body and respond quickly afterward.

“You have to be ready to take a hit and to make a play,” Hedman said. “Don’t be scared to get hurt, that’s part of the game. Just make sure you’re committed to taking that hit and making that play.”

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

From a forward’s standpoint, Ryan Malone doesn’t think the transition to Cooper’s style will be difficult either, it’ll just require a lot of communication from his linemates.

“I’m playing with St. Louis and Stamkos right now,” Malone said. “As long as we’re all talking and covering each other in the defensive zone and just making sure we’re on the same page, then we should be alright.”

Having a majority of players who are familiar with the coach and his system is also a plus, according to Malone.

“The less thinking you have to do on the ice, the faster you’re going to move,” he said. “Guys have been snapping around well and everybody’s getting on the same page quick here and that’s very important.”

ODDS AND ENDS

-Friday’s focus on the ice was again on Tampa Bay’s transition game and player positioning for certain game scenarios

-Skate times during Saturday’s Fan Fest range from 8:10 a.m. through 1:45 p.m.

-Fans are invited to attend Monday, September 16 and Tuesday, September 17 training camp sessions from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Scrimmages on Monday and Tuesday will also be streamed live for the first time in Lightning training camp history.

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