TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been nearly two weeks since the NHL moved into “Phase Two” of their return to play plan on June 8. Under this stage, teams were allowed to open their facilities to player workouts of small groups on the ice. The Lightning has progressed from mainly conditioning to scrimmages now.
“We feel pretty good out there,” said Lightning forward Carter Verhaeghe. “I just skated this morning and we’re starting to play small games. We only have six guys on the ice but we’re trying to make the most of it and play little games and stuff. It’s actually been pretty fun. We’re working out too so all the guys are in pretty good shape actually.”
But that’s not to say they have their hockey legs back just yet.
“The first week was kind of, well we hadn’t skated in about three months so it kind of felt like we hadn’t skated in a year,” Verhaeghe said. “I think everyone’s first skate was a little bit rough but we’re starting to get better and starting to get our hands back and our legs back and everything.”
As of now, the NHL has set the date of Friday, July 10 as the start of ‘Phase 3,’ and the beginning of training camps. There has been no announcement as to how long camps will be, or when the first games of the playoffs will start.
As one of the top four teams in the eastern conference standings, the Lightning will play in a three-game round robin opening round against the Bruins, Capitals and Flyers to determine first-round seeding. The Lightning were one of the teams that voted against this format, hoping for more ‘meaningful games’ to be played before they got into the thick of the playoff hunt.
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