Just two nights ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning were playing a Game 7 in Pittsburgh. Entering Friday night’s Game 1, the Lightning is battling to limit the effects of fatigue.
The team took yesterday off, but every player who skated in Game 7 on Wednesday participated in a high-intensity 30-minute skate at Verizon Center this morning.
The turnaround was definitely quick, but it sounds like the players are ready to go.
“We still got our legs going,” Lightning center Steven Stamkos said. “We gotta come out really hard. We can’t afford to use anything as an excuse. We’re ready and we gotta show it tonight.”
The Lightning sprinted through open ice rushes and worked on their power play at game speed during this morning’s skate.
At one point during a huddle in between drills, Lightning Coach Guy Boucher implored his team to “wake up” before tonight.
“Guys were very tired yesterday,” Boucher said. “It’s not easy, and it’s our job to reload and get ready for this round.”
The Caps had four extra days of physical rest since completing their first-round series, and they have spoken this week about getting antsy to find out who their second-round opponent would be and to get on with the playoffs.
The Lightning, meanwhile, spoke today about getting emotionally ready for this series after the extreme high of completing its series win against the Penguins on Wednesday after falling behind three games to one.
If the Caps are trying to steal Game 1 tonight before the Lightning have recovered from the last round, Tampa is trying to defend against that.
“The Pittsburgh series is over. We can’t give them freebies because we’re still happy because of the Pittsburgh series,” winger Martin St. Louis said. “We’re glad but we know there’s more that we have to do to obtain our goals. So, it starts tonight. It can’t start Sunday. It can’t start when we’re at home. It starts right now because Game 1 is just as important as any of the other games.”