Lightning eye playoff return in shortened season

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 17, 2013
Steven Stamkos knows reaching 60-goals again will be unlikely in this year's abbreviated 48-game season. But the Tampa Bay center feels the Lightning returning to the playoffs is well within reach in the lockout-curtailed campaign. ''Getting into the playoffs, that's our goal here,'' Stamkos said. ''We want to be a playoff team. It's going to be a different year. It's a sprint. You've got to get off to a good start.'' Stamkos had an NHL-best 60 goals when the Lightning, one year removed from reaching the Eastern Conference finals, missed out on postseason play last season. ''After last year, we were very disappointed,'' Stamkos said. ''This league is about consistency. You have to find a way that, if things aren't going well, you don't let it slide. Last year we were guilty of that. We can't take anything for granted.'' Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, holdovers from Tampa Bay's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, provide a solid nucleus. Newcomers include goalie Anders Lindback, and defensemen Sami Salo and Matt Carle. ''Obviously, we want to get into the playoffs,'' St. Louis said. ''Get better as the year goes on, and be at the top of our game when playoffs start. I'm excited about our team, obviously.'' Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher expects the fine-tuning to be somewhat off for all teams early on, but doesn't feel intensity will be an issue. ''I feel that 48 games is plenty of time to have some ups and some downs, and to manage them,'' Boucher said. ''I think there's going to be ups and downs like every season, but obviously you don't want to have a lull that lasts too long because you'll probably be out of the playoffs. ''So definitely there's going to be urgency from the first game, first period until the last one,'' Boucher added. ''The players are aware of it, we're aware if it, but I think it's going to be good for the fans. I think the intensity of the games can be extremely high. I think the main part is that there's going to be so much intensity in those games it's going to be very, very interesting.'' The NHL also played a 48-game season following a lockout in the 1994-95 season, when Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman was a star with the Detroit Red Wings. ''What really stood out to me that year was, it was like playoffs from Day 1,'' Yzerman said. ''You played virtually every second day. You're always preparing for a game. There was no breaks in the schedule. It's a playoff kind of atmosphere. It was enjoyable. We played a lot of games. You didn't practice a whole lot. You were always on the go. Every game takes on even more importance.'' The Lightning host the Washington Capitals in the regular-season opener on Saturday night. ''This one we had to wait for,'' Tampa Bay chairman Jeff Vinik said. ''Steve Yzerman's had a great offseason, and we're thrilled the puck drops'' Saturday.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Giants’ Victor Cruz cleared to practice

PETA sends Warren Sapp vegan lobster following shark bite

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker