During the third interval of Saturday’s eventual 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper introduced the hockey world with a uncommon sight. Superstars Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos have been caught firmly on the bench, as Cooper determined he’d seen sufficient of their efforts.
Cooper didn’t draw back from the choice after the sport. He primarily defined that Kucherov, Point, and Stamkos weren’t “adhering” to the crew’s excessive requirements for effort.
Maybe Cooper wasn’t being fully literal when he stated that “within the third interval, they weren’t giving us the perfect probability to win,” however both means, the purpose was to enhance effort. Lightning beat author Chris Krenn shared Cooper’s full feedback, which you’ll learn beneath:
Defensive lapses for Lightning vs. Buffalo, and normally these days
The Sabres and Lightning exchanged power-play objectives within the first interval, with Kucherov and Stamkos aiding on Point’s thirty ninth tally of the season. It was the second interval the place issues unraveled, and at instances these three forwards seemed somewhat gradual to shut in on objectives from Vinnie Hinostroza, Tyson Jost, and Jack Quinn.
Were these lapses extreme sufficient on their very own to justify benching integral items of the Lightning’s two Stanley Cup wins and three straight Final appearances? Probably not. That stated, there are just a few elements to contemplate.
Most clearly, there’s some logic to the twin function of “sending a message” and in addition resting some veteran gamers, because the Lightning will full a back-to-back set after they face the Hurricanes on Sunday.
Cooper might also be involved a couple of latest hunch. With this loss to the Sabres, the Lightning have dropped 4 video games in a row, salvaging a single standings level within the course of. Overall, the Lightning have misplaced seven of their final 9 video games, producing a 2-4-3 mark since Feb. 15.
While it’s extremely unlikely the Lightning will lose sufficient floor to fall out of a looming first-round matchup in opposition to the Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay would definitely wish to enter the playoffs on a excessive observe.
In the previous, Cooper’s been reluctant to apply “load administration,” even when the Bolts already had a Presidents’ Trophy locked down. That stated, and not using a ton to achieve, perhaps he can work in somewhat relaxation for growing older stars similar to Stamkos and Victor Hedman down the stretch?
As a lot as anything, Cooper could also be involved that prime gamers consider they’ll simply “flip a swap” and tighten up in time for the postseason. Most of the Lightning’s defensive stats look strong, however this crew clearly has excessive requirements. Take a have a look at their warmth maps (through Hockey Viz) from the final three seasons and also you’ll see that the Lightning have regularly began to permit extra possibilities from harmful areas of the ice.
Considering the Lightning’s skill to generate offense, that defensive decline isn’t essentially the tip of the world. Yet, if you set requirements so excessive, it may be the kind of slippage that prompts you to ship a message by conserving prime scorers on the bench.