Jon Cooper on state of Lightning ahead of season opener, Mathieu Joseph earning a roster spot

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Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper discusses state of Lightning ahead of season opener and how Mathieu Joseph earned a roster spot.

REPORTER: Just, you're ready? You're ready.

- I think the league is ready. I'm not so sure we are quite yet. Just because we're, I feel like, we're the last team, us and Florida, to play. It's just a weird start to the year. In a sense, we play one game in the first, you know, 10, 11 days. And I think it's good for us. It's good for our reps, to get us going.

But it's going to bite us somewhere, because we have to make up those games at some point. But it's been really good. And the other point is, we've had some guys banged up. This is giving us a little bit extra chance to get them healthy again.

REPORTER: Anthony Cirelli, what have you liked about his game this preseason?

- He's just building from what he showed us last year. That's the one thing, he came up for 30 games, and then made a little bit of-- you know, he made some noise for us in the playoffs. And played a significant role, you know, in that third line center spot. And killing penalties.

And so you look to see did he hang his hat on that, or is he coming in hungry? And it seems to be the latter. And that's what you want to see your guys. So he's kind of slotted himself in there. He's that third line center. And deservedly so. He's done a really good job for us.

REPORTER: Cartel said he wanted to be like Yanni Gourde player. I mean, do you see similarities, other than just the background, with kind of where they came from?

- Other than their size, and where they're from? I guess there is some similarities. Well, that's something to shoot for, there's no question. Yanni is the poster child for, you know, reaching for the stars and finding them. And he, I think Danny is kind of in the same boat, or hoping to be, anyway. And what I really liked about his game is he's just improved every time he's been with us.

And I think it's got to be hard to switch organizations mid-training camp and expect to jump in, and know all the systems, and put your best foot forward. And he somehow found a way to improve. And yeah, definitely a good guy to look up to.

REPORTER: Hungry, this year tied to the finishes in three of the last four seasons?

- Well. It's such a long way off, just in the sense that you got to play 82 games just to give yourself a chance to get back to the playoffs. And probably a lesson we learned two years ago when we fell, you know, a point shy. But a heck of a response from the team last year. It's-- everything seems to change every year.

And you know, I'll never be able to say the Capitals came out of nowhere, because they've been a great team in this league for a long time. But new team found success in the playoffs. And I love the fact that, you know, consistently we've been a team that's going far in the playoffs.

I'm not loving the fact that we haven't been able to finish the job. But the longer this has gone on, it is definitely something the players, I think, have really-- they cling to a little bit is the fact that we've got to get back there to give ourselves that chance. Because you know, who's next? And why can't it be us? That's the way we're looking at it.

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REPORTER: As far as, you said having a full summer of training versus rehab. That's the big difference for them. I know it's exhibition games, and you can't tell a little bit of a difference.

- Well, he's definitely worked hard. And that's what we're looking for in the guys, is you got to come to camp. It's not a time to get into shape. It's a time to get your game in order. And that's what he's done so far. He's had to play with a couple of different line mates, in the sense that you know, when Kuch got hurt.

And kind of experimented around with different looks. But this is the time these guys really kick it in. Hopefully he's got it rolling Saturday night.

REPORTER: The excitement to see how Matthew's game kind of translates to the regular season?

- Well, it's a test, another test. So you've got, you know, the mere fact, coming into training camp, and then now you find yourself, not in Syracuse still in Tampa. And with the potential of some guys injured, there might be some open spots here.

And it's a little bit of a showcase to see what you can do. But we just didn't pull his name out of a hat. He earned a spot here, and I'd like to see what he does with it.