NHL

Lightning eye playoff return in shortened season

Share This Story

   
 

TAMPA, Fla. (AP)

Steven Stamkos knows reaching 60-goals again will be unlikely in this year's abbreviated 48-game season.

But the Tampa Bay center feels the Lightning returning to the playoffs is well within reach in the lockout-curtailed campaign.

''Getting into the playoffs, that's our goal here,'' Stamkos said. ''We want to be a playoff team. It's going to be a different year. It's a sprint. You've got to get off to a good start.''

Stamkos had an NHL-best 60 goals when the Lightning, one year removed from reaching the Eastern Conference finals, missed out on postseason play last season.

''After last year, we were very disappointed,'' Stamkos said. ''This league is about consistency. You have to find a way that, if things aren't going well, you don't let it slide. Last year we were guilty of that. We can't take anything for granted.''

Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, holdovers from Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, provide a solid nucleus. Newcomers include goalie Anders Lindback, and defensemen Sami Salo and Matt Carle.

''Obviously, we want to get into the playoffs,'' St. Louis said. ''Get better as the year goes on, and be at the top of our game when playoffs start. I'm excited about our team, obviously.''

Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher expects the fine-tuning to be somewhat off for all teams early on, but doesn't feel intensity will be an issue.

''I feel that 48 games is plenty of time to have some ups and some downs, and to manage them,'' Boucher said. ''I think there's going to be ups and downs like every season, but obviously you don't want to have a lull that lasts too long because you'll probably be out of the playoffs.

''So definitely there's going to be urgency from the first game, first period until the last one,'' Boucher added. ''The players are aware of it, we're aware if it, but I think it's going to be good for the fans. I think the intensity of the games can be extremely high. I think the main part is that there's going to be so much intensity in those games it's going to be very, very interesting.''

The NHL also played a 48-game season following a lockout in the 1994-95 season, when Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was a star with the Detroit Red Wings.

''What really stood out to me that year was, it was like playoffs from Day 1,'' Yzerman said. ''You played virtually every second day. You're always preparing for a game. There was no breaks in the schedule. It's a playoff kind of atmosphere. It was enjoyable. We played a lot of games. You didn't practice a whole lot. You were always on the go. Every game takes on even more importance.''

The Lightning host the Washington Capitals in the regular-season opener on Saturday night.

''This one we had to wait for,'' Tampa Bay chairman Jeff Vinik said. ''Steve Yzerman's had a great offseason, and we're thrilled the puck drops'' Saturday.

Tagged: Lightning, Steve Yzerman, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

Toews, Kane: Easy decision to resign with Blackhawks Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane say their decision to sign matching 8-year, $84M...

LA mayor 'F-bombs' Kings rally Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt