Lightning players participate in first scrimmage following NHL’s latest ‘Return to Play’ phase


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Tampa Bay Lightning skated in their first scrimmage in the latest phase of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan on Wednesday.

The scrimmage consisted of two Lightning teams, a blue team and a white team, a referee, and, possibly the best part of it, a celebration after Ondrej Palat scored the first goal. His teammate on the blue team, Anthony Cirelli, congratulated him.

“I think Cirelli was more excited than me,” Palat said with a smile.

“There is nothing like five on five,” admitted Ryan McDonagh. “You cannot emulate it no matter what kind of drill you do, the bounces, the pucks, the changes in the game. It was definitely a day the guys were looking forward to.”

McDonagh, a defenseman on the team, said typically when a schedule is released, everyone is circling the games.

“The guys were anxious that it was going to be five, six, seven days before we scrimmaged,” he said, “but the coaches realized that and it was definitely a lot of fun and energy out there to get this thing rolling.”

The team is rolling at a pace that seems to be perfect for this “new normal.”

“I think the thing that I was impressed with,” said McDonagh. “It was not too sloppy for the most part. We stress a lot of structure and being in the right spots when it is on our sticks so it was not too many turnovers and odd-man looks so, for the first day, that was encouraging.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have two more scrimmages against themselves in Tampa and then they will face the Florida Panthers in an exhibition game in Toronto on July 29.


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