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. Road to Atlanta: Tell us how you really feel, Jimbo

    College

    Topped out

    TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 21:  Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide tackles Jarrett Guarantano #2 of the Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 775042495
  2. Journal: USF gets support on the road

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — Perhaps it was the chance to witness the first USF-Tulane game ever, or an opportunity to frolic in the French Quarter for a weekend. Or both.

    USF running back D'Ernest Johnson (2) stiff-arms Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson (17) on a run during the second half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH111
  3. Joey Knight's takeaways from USF-Tulane

    College

    1. Saturday's triumph will do little to fortify USF's strength of schedule, but its strength-of-character quotient might have increased. On the road facing an eclectic offense, the Bulls built a huge lead, then made critical plays in the waning moments after some defensive lapses. In short, they survived. Isn't …

    South Florida defensive end Greg Reaves (41) reacts after a defensive stop against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH107
  4. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start

    College

    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  5. Lightning journal: Tighter defense fuels hot start

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — See what happens when you keep the crease clean, limit the traffic in front of G Andrei Vasilevskiy and limit Grade A scoring chances?

    Yanni Gourde, right, gets a late first-period goal that follows a big save by Andrei Vasilevskiy.