TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay Lightning tested a new tactic against the New York Islanders in Game 2 on Tuesday.
A pair of defensemen, Jan Rutta and Victor Hedman, put the puck in the net. They are the first Lightning defensemen to score in 13 games this postseason.
“I am a big believer the second you have the puck, it is five guys on offense,” said Jon Cooper, the head coach of the Lightning, “and, when you don’t, it is five players on defense.”
He commented on the versatility of his team.
“Using the terms ‘forward’ and ‘defense’ in our offensive system,” said Cooper, “we try to move guys around all over the place, naturally, from the geographics of where the guys are on the ice, a lot of times the defensemen do not score as much.”
Cooper actually referred to the defensive scoring drought as a rarity.
“For the most part, in my tenure here,” he said, “we have really tried to have defensemen up in the rush, activate, move in the offensive zone.”
While he stated he does not expect it to be an issue in the upcoming games, Cooper added that that factor can be directly related to the opponent.
“We knew against Carolina we were probably not going to get a ton of defensive scoring because of the way we had schemed how we were going to play offense,” said Cooper, “but I think it was just a matter of time.”
Rutta scored the third goal for the Lightning in the third period of Game 2, recording his first career playoff goal.
Hedman capitalized on the Lightning power play about seven minutes after the Rutta goal. He has 13 points in the playoffs: one goal and 12 assists.
“We might be a couple games from now saying, ‘Holy cow! I cannot believe all of the defensive scoring we are getting!’ so I think it all evens out,” said Cooper. “It is just a matter of time.”