Notebook: It Only Gets Harder From Here
A win's a win and the Tampa Bay Lightning, of course, will take two points where two points are given, but it was not a game the team held their heads high thereafter.
With the schedule the Bolts have coming up, there are some problems they will need to fine-tune heading on the road ahead that includes three Atlantic Division opponents.
"As soon as you cap one can of worms another one gets opened," head coach Jon Cooper said. "It's a bit frustrating the amount of turnovers that have crept into our game. Something we thought we had control of and then all of a sudden, here's its ugly head."
In addition to turnovers, Tampa Bay has consistently struggled with getting a decent amount of shots on net. In their past five games they have only put 30 shots on goal once.
"I think it's not the first shot that's our problem, but getting the puck back and scoring off the rebounds," Alex Killorn said. "I think if we work on possessing the puck and getting more shots off our first shot, we'll be alright."
Prior to going north for games against the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, the Lightning practiced a different set of drills that needed to be improved upon Friday.
"We have been working on puck protection and managing the puck with our sticks," Radko Gudas said. "It's something we need to improve and keep working on in practice."
Cooper acknowledged that Tampa Bay has been fortunate enough to pull out the wins, despite poor play at times, but it is something that will eventually catch up with them sooner than later.
Scoring two unassisted goals in Thursday's game against the Oilers, it is no surprise that Steven Stamkos has had a hot offensive start again this season. Yet this year, Stamkos is evolving into a two-way player and is no longer putting his defensive ability on the backburner.
"When you first come into the league you're known as a goal scorer and that's how you look at yourself and try to play," Stamkos said. "I think I'm an all-around better player now. My focus heading into games is not all about producing offensively; it's about playing the right way."
Cooper believes that after watching him over "two mini-seasons" from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, he is not only seeing Stamkos's game change, he is also transforming physically and "really becoming a man."
Unlike in seasons' past, Stamkos has really been able to celebrate his growth as a personal and team success through 14 games thus far.
"It's tough to have individual success and not have the team win," Stamkos said. "There's no satisfaction in that."
Stamkos and the Bolts still have a long way to go though, as they are not even one-quarter of the way through the regular season at this point.
ODDS 'N ENDS
The Bolts Brian Lee and Tom Pyatt were both seen doing some off-ice rehabbing at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon Friday. Pyatt has been out of the lineup since the second week of the season with a broken collar bone, and Lee, who has a knee ailment, has not seen any time on the ice this year.
Valtteri Filppula makes his first return home to Detroit as a member of the Lightning since being signed as a free agent in July in Saturday's game against the Red Wings.