Each player, unsolicited, brings up that Tampa Bay was the only NHL team to allow at least 400 goals combined the past two seasons — 425 to be exact, 29 more than any other team.
“And that,” center Steven Stamkos said, “is pretty alarming.”
Coach Jon Cooper believes so, too, and has made it a priority to shore up the Lightning’s play in the defensive zone.
But he also has made it clear to his top forwards — you don’t think they pulled that goals-against stat out of thin air, do you? — they have as much defensive responsibility as goaltenders and defensemen.
“We’re not just talking about (Steven) Stamkos and (Marty) St. Louis,” Cooper said. “We’re talking about the (Ryan) Malones, the (Alex) Killorns, (Teddy) Purcells. It’s not like these guys can’t play D. They’ve all done it. They’ve all got pretty good habits. It’s just the point of all five guys (on the ice) doing it together.”