Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning journal: Brett Connolly thriving with Capitals after leaving Lightning

The Capitals’ Brett Connolly went into Saturday’s game against his former team with a career-high 15 goals in 56 games.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes

The Capitals’ Brett Connolly went into Saturday’s game against his former team with a career-high 15 goals in 56 games.

TAMPA — The first time Capitals coach Barry Trotz spoke with wing Brett Connolly, the former Lightning No. 6 overall pick admitted that he probably got put in the NHL too soon.

Connolly played 68 games with the Lightning in 2011-12 season as a 19-year-old straight out of junior. He then bounced back and forth from the AHL the next few years before getting dealt by Tampa Bay in 2015. The Capitals were his third team in three years.

"He said, 'I sort of lost my way a little bit,' " Trotz said of Connolly. " 'And I'm trying to find my way back.' "

It certainly looks as if Connolly, 24, has, entering Saturday's game with the Lightning with a career-high 15 goals in 56 games. Connolly, on a show-me one-year, $850,000 deal, said playing a third-line role on a really good team took some pressure off him. And he's averaging only 10:53 a game.

"I've found that confidence again to score on a consistent basis," Connolly said.

It didn't happen right away, with Connolly a healthy scratch for a good portion of the season. Coach Jon Cooper, who had Connolly in AHL Syracuse and Tampa Bay, said he's happy for him.

"He has just a natural ability to score," Cooper said. "I think it took him a little time to find his way in the league, but he's found a home in Washington. He's kind of settled into a really good spot. They've got some guys that carry the spotlight there, the (Alex) Ovechkins and (Nicklas) Backstroms. And Brett slides in there and quietly has 15 goals. He can do that. He's become that secondary scoring that teams desperately look for."

Trotz pointed out that everyone, high pick or not, has his own path.

"Not everyone is a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews," Trotz said. "Some guys don't get off to the start that they want and maybe find success a little later on in their career. Nothing wrong with that."

Medical matters

Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette all missed Saturday's game with lower body injuries. Cooper said there's no timetable for their return, though Namestnikov skated in a red jersey for the second consecutive day.

Quote of the day

"We just put our logo up in the sky and they fly up."

Coach Jon Cooper, channeling Batman, in describing the wave of emergency callups from AHL Syracuse.

Slap shots

Alex Killorn's goal Saturday snapped a 16-game drought. And it was a huge one, tying the score.

• Fitting move by AHL Syracuse to name Erik Condra captain, replacing Luke Witkowski, who is with the Lightning. Condra handled a difficult season (eight callups) with class.

• Bet a lot of Lightning fans held their breath when G Andrei Vasilevskiy left the game four minutes in. He missed just 20 seconds due to a skate issue.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

Lightning journal: Brett Connolly thriving with Capitals after leaving Lightning 03/18/17 [Last modified: Saturday, March 18, 2017 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    You wonder if the scouting reports and/or workload are catching up to rookie RHP Jake Faria. The bottom line wasn't bad again, three runs in 51/3 innings, but he's having to work harder to get there.

  3. Rays journal: Chris Archer eager for eventful final stretch

    The Heater

    TORONTO — RHP Chris Archer takes the mound today for the Rays as they head into the final 40 games of the season with little margin for error as they battle for an American League playoff spot.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) takes a moment on the mound in the second inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, August 6, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow's slump continues, as does fan support

    Sports

    CLEARWATER — On July 29, playing against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Tim Tebow smacked a mammoth three-run homer, helping the St. Lucie Mets cruise to a 10-3 victory at Charlotte Sports Park.

    St. Lucie’s Tim Tebow, shown Monday at Spectrum Field, struggled at the plate Wednesday against the Threshers.
  5. Rays at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m. Thursday

    The Heater

    Today: at Blue Jays

    4:07, Rogers Centre, Toronto

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Rays info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (8-7, 3.84)

    JAYS: RH Chris Rowley (1-0, 1.69)