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. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.
  5. Rays at Twins, 8:10 p.m. Friday, Minneapolis

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Twins

    8:10, Target Field, Minnesota

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (3-3, 3.76)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)