The Tampa Bay Lightning held the first day of training camp yesterday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Today they are in Estero, where they will be through Thursday. They will return to Tampa for the last day of training camp on Friday, set for the home opener on Saturday.
After the skate head coach Guy Boucher said that they were concerned how they would skate on the fresh ice. It proved to be ‘soft and slushy’. Passes were difficult, however, they skated just fine. There are two main things that they hope to accomplish in this training camp: game shape and chemistry. Coach Boucher said that they are going south to Estero for team building, but they wanted to be in Tampa for the first and last days of training camp, as a thank you to the fans.
On Anders Lindback:
“He always looks good to me because he’s 6’6″. (laughs) Just quick, he’s just so quick. If you want to beat him down low, he just sticks it out (to the) last second and he frustrates you so. He looks terrific out there. That’s my opinion, but I don’t want to put pressure on him. He’s a young goal tender, we’re not asking him to be exceptional and play all the games. That’s not the way we do things. He’s a young goal tender that has played some games in the NHL, needs to play more and we’re gonna let him grow at his pace and have expectations that are realistic for him and we gonna surround him. And Mathieu Garon is just an unbelievable professional, and that’s the perfect guy to be around, so we’re going to let him groom at the pace that he can take. And that’s important. We know he’s good. We know he’s got all the tools, (it’s) just a question of time before we see his best. Hopefully it’s the first game, and if it’s not, then it’s later.”
On the season
“Right now I don’t want any panic in our dressing room. It’s the same as the season, everybody ‘oh my goodness, there’s 48 games… it’s the end of the world… urgency if we lose three in a row, we’re out of the playoffs’. For me, I say whoa, let’s calm down here. Actually, this is very positive in the sense that we’re not trailing. It’s the first time in three years that we’re not trailing to anybody. We’re right at the top of the league now. We’re on equal grounds with everybody, we’ve had terrific second halves last year and the previous year. We’re already second half so that positive. So for me it’s not a threat. It’s a challenge and I can’t wait to start.”
Steve Yzerman was happy that there was a good turn out for Fan Fest. He knows that they guys have been working hard in Brandon during the lockout.
On Brett Connolly:
He has been watching Brett since December. He’s ‘comfortable with where he is right now and pleased with his development’. He was not invited to camp, as he feels that Brett is currently in a better fit in Syracuse. He needs to play a lot, and he will be able to do so in Syracuse.
Team owner Mr. Vinik says that his excitement is ‘off the charts’ for the upcoming season. He worried every day about the fans, the community, and the sport of hockey in general. Especially the part time employees and local businesses. Now he’s anxious for Saturday to come, he just wants to watch some hockey!
Garon wants to forget what’s happened and yesterday was a fresh start.
Malone is looking forward to the team building exercises that they will be doing throughout the week, especially beach volleyball. He has to keep up the tan! Though I’ve always heard that if you have tattoos, you are supposed to stay out of the sun, as the sun will fade them.
Stamkas has never been through the lockout process before. He says that he was fortunate to be trained by Gary Roberts in Toronto who’s been through this before. He knows what Steven has to do to prepare himself and to stay ready to play. Steven says that he puts the most expectations and pressures on himself. The team has to come out strong and they have to be mentally strong and physically strong.
Everyone is eager to get through camp and get to the home opener on Saturday.
I’m anxious for Saturday, too!