Bolts Report: March 8
Following a close 2-1 defeat to the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning held an optional practice Friday morning in Brandon where several, but not all players skated.
Here are a few notes from today's session:
QUALITY SCORING CHANCES
Guy Boucher echoed a familiar theme that has resonated lately, and that was that he has been pleased with the team's quality scoring chances and with those given to the opponent, despite the lack of wins that have come recently as a result.
Looking back at Thursday's game, Boucher identified 15 quality scoring chances for, while only giving the Jets nine, and of the nine, only two were what Boucher called "A" chances.
But as for the lack of goals?
"That's what hurts," Boucher said. "It's tough today to come in here and start yelling at the players because we played well enough to win, but we just have to keep improving."
Ondrej Palat has been the latest young Lightning forward to come up this season from Syracuse of the American Hockey League and impress thus far, as he has shown signs of promise in becoming a strong player for the Bolts down the road.
Palat, despite telling the media that he has felt "pretty nervous," actually is doing just fine.
He recorded a point in each of this first two career games, then almost had the go-ahead goal on Thursday against Winnipeg, that instead rimmed off the post and the crossbar to stay out of the net.
Score or not, the experience has been invaluable, said Palat, who can only develop into a better player thanks to his current NHL stint.
"It's been great," Palat said. "I'm learning a lot and I'm starting to feel more comfortable. I'm just playing simple and trying to become better defensively since I know that's what the coaches like."
The NHL Players' Association signed off on the proposed realignment plan this past week that calls for the Lightning to join a number of teams currently in the Northeast Division.
The plan is expected to be finalized as soon as the NHL Board of Governors holds a vote. Tampa Bay, though, will be grouped with Detroit, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Buffalo, Ottawa and Florida. It is proposed that the club will play each team in their division a minimum of five times while playing every out-of-division team in a home-and-home series.
While the plan does not favor the Lightning perhaps as much as it does other teams in terms of travel, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman did say this:
"All we can do is run a good organization and do a good job and be competitive. That's the way I look at it. It's a great challenge for us and I look forward to it."