Greetings from Amalie Arena, where the Tampa Bay Lightning held its morning skate in advance of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
There was a bit of news: Dynamic winger Jonathan Drouin, who hasn't played since the fourth game of Tampa Bay's second-round victory over Montreal, said he was told to be ready to play Saturday night. That would probably mean the Lightning would play with 12 forwards and six defensemen, instead of the 11-forward, seven-defenseman alignment it used in its 2-1 loss in Game 1.
Drouin, who had four goals and 32 points in 70 regular-season games as a rookie this season, has played only three playoff games. He said Coach Jon Cooper told him to approach this as a game day.
"I'm taking warm-ups tonight, so we'll see," Drouin said. "He told me to prepare like it was a game. So I'm definitely going to do that. It's the Stanley Cup final. You've just got to be ready."
Cooper wouldn't say Saturday morning if he would in fact play Drouin on Saturday night.
Drouin said he and his teammates were disappointed after their loss in the opener Wednesday because they felt they might have won if they hadn't let up in the third period.
"We played a really good 50 minutes and we let them play the last 10, and against a team like that it's going to cost you," he said. "There are definitely skilled forwards on the other side, but if you look at the defensemen, they jump into the play right away after a pass so as a forward you've got to make sure you're ready and you can't get beat back to your zone by [Duncan] Keith and those guys."
Tyler Johnson, who centers the "Triplets" line for Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, has become the subject of speculation over a possible injury after going five games without a goal. He said Saturday he's not injured, but at this time of year no player would admit being hurt, anyway. Johnson is still the playoff goal-scoring leader, with 12,
"As the playoffs go on it gets harder to score," he said. "But our line, right now, we're playing just average. We're not doing as well as we should. We know that. So it's time for us to step up."
He summed up the Lightning's mood as "prepared, angry. We want to win. We were upset the way Game 1 played out. We felt we played good for the majority of the game but we didn't play a full 60 minutes, and if you don't play a full 60 minutes against a good team like Chicago it's going to burn you," he said. "We're ready for Game 2. It was weird having those two days off to think about it, but the guys are prepared and ready to go."
We'll have more after the Blackhawks finish their morning skate.