Lightning captain Steven Stamkos talks about team’s preparation going into season opener

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Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos on the team's preparation for the season and the first game of the season.

- You have to build up, you know. Nothing is given to you in this league. We've seen great teams struggle out of the game and get by an eight ball and have to push and fight through the year. So I think last year was a great indication of we had a good training camp, we were well-prepared, and we started off the year extremely well. And that gave us some leeway through the year.

I think that's the approach you want to have is get out to as quick of a start as you can. Maybe catch some teams that aren't quite on the same page in terms of their game plan. As the season goes on, it gets tougher and tougher to win. So try to bank as many wins as possible at the beginning. And I thought that was a good recipe for us last year. And we'll try to do the same this year.

REPORTER: [INAUDIBLE]. What made you guys so effective after changing that area?

- I think Millsy brought an element to that line that, you know, we didn't quite have ever before, where big body can really protect the puck down low. And then the skill set on top of that, that's kind of rare to see a guy who can be a physical presence on the ice, but have a great release, have a great shot, have a great mind for the game.

And he's helped me a lot too. He's great on faceoffs. So we can kind of flip-flop, depending on which side the draw is on. That helps with puck possession. And Kooch is gonna be Kooch. And we go from there.

So hopefully we can get off to a good start because I love playing with those two. And I'm looking forward to getting off like Kooch and I did last year. That'd be nice.


- Yeah.

REPORTER: Everyone says you guys are bringing back virtually the same team as last year, but you've added a lot of depth and some new faces and the new coaches behind the bench. What's the energy like? And has that kind of made it exciting on going into a new season with new coaches and players?

- Yeah, you know, it's some different voices, some different ideas. You're always up for something new, especially when you do have the same group. You're used to doing things a certain way and the continuity in that. So we've added some new players, couple new coaches, like you mentioned. But I think when it's all said and done guys are just excited to get back and play a game that matters.

It's kind of funny how the schedules work with playing Florida so many times, but they're going to see our best. We're going to see their best. It's going to be a different feel than the three previous exhibition games. So we're looking forward to Saturday night hockey in Tampa and we're excited.

REPORTER: And how much has Sasha Barkov [INAUDIBLE]?

- Yeah, Barkov--


- Yeah, I mean, I think as a player you hear how underrated he is from a media perspective, but it couldn't be further from the truth from a player's perspective. I think if you asked anyone, especially us who have to play in our division, he's an elite player in this league. And to have the hockey IQ that he has and then the skill set and the size, he can control a game.

And we'll have to have an eye on him tomorrow. I'm sure we'll have pointers lying all over their line tomorrow. But he's an elite player and Florida's got some really, really good players. I thought they were one of the best teams in the league down the stretch last year. And we're certainly looking for a very tight game tomorrow.