Practice Notebook: Changes In The Crease
Fresh-off picking up his third straight win, Bolts’ goaltender Ben Bishop woke up Friday not feeling 100-percent after his most recent victory Thursday. As a result Bishop did not skate Friday and was replaced by Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2013 draft pick Kristers Gudlevskis. Gudlevskis is currently in training camp with the Lightning’s ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades.
“He got banged up at some point during the game Thursday,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “It wasn’t something that was a major cause for concern because he said he was fine during the game. Through the course of the night I think things tightened up on him.”
The netminder is now listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury, but Cooper said that with games coming every other day for the next couple weeks it was more of a precautionary move. Bishop will be reevaluated tomorrow.
Now, Anders Lindback may get the opportunity to fill Tampa Bay’s void in net Saturday night in their second game of a seven-game homestand versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. While Lindback has not seen action since the first game of the season, it was not because of his play, it was simply because Bishop was playing so well.
“We were going to rotate our goalies at some point anyways,” Cooper said. “Just because there’s some wear and tear on Bishop, doesn’t mean that Lindy wasn’t going in no matter what.”
Since the season opener, practice has been of the utmost importance to Lindback, who said repetition and excelling in practice have been paramount in preparing for situations like this.
“I find it really important for my confidence to play good in practice because you bring that feeling out in games too,” Lindback said. “It’s just getting the right habits and doing the right thing over and over. It helps make you comfortable out there.”
His habits in practice are dutifully noted by the Lightning.
“There’s one thing I’ll never doubt about Anders and that’s his work ethic,” Cooper said. “If there’s one thing that guy brings every day, it’s he pulls out the card and punches the clock. It doesn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff or players. It’s going to get him starts and make him a better goalie in the end.”
Two of last season’s Top 10 finishers for points, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, as well as offensive weapon Evgeni Malkin are just a few of the threats the Bolts are slated to face next game. The Penguins are currently 3-0-0 and play the first of back-to-backs Friday, before playing Tampa Bay Saturday.
Communication is key in protecting the Lightning’s net against Pittsburgh. The fact that the entire team is playing a much more solid defensive game as of late is a plus as well.
“It’s really a team thing,” Lindback said. “You have to be able to talk to defenseman a lot and make sure everybody’s aware of where everyone is on the ice. I also think we’re playing a really good defensive game compared to last year. We made some changes and I think we’re playing a really solid game right now.”
Recalling Gudlevskis Friday was primarily a matter of proximity of the Everblades, compared to the Crunch’s location in Central New York.
“It’s difficult to get decisions made late at night or early in the morning; it’s tough to get guys here” Cooper said. “That’s the bonus of having an affiliate this close. Getting a guy down from Syracuse takes some time, so we just have to cover our bases.”
It also didn’t hurt that Gudlevskis got some extra practice time in with the Bolts, as he adjusts to the North American style of play, which includes smaller ice surfaces. A reduction in rink size mean a faster-paced, more physical game.
“It’s good to get him skating with our guys too,” he said. “Anytime we can get our young guys here, it’s a bonus for us.”
ODDS ‘N ENDS
The plan for Gudlevskis is to head to the Crunch tomorrow and have goalie Cedrick Desjardins join the Lightning tomorrow.
Bishop’s injury is not considered serious, but it was enough for the Lightning to make the necessary adjustments.