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Lightning eager to rebound from missing playoffs

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING LAST SEASON: 42-30-10, 94 points. 5th place Atlantic Division. COACH: Jon Cooper (fourth full season).
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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

LAST SEASON: 42-30-10, 94 points. 5th place Atlantic Division.

COACH: Jon Cooper (fourth full season).

ADDED: F Chris Kunitz, D Dan Girardi, D Mikhail Sergachez

LOST: F Jonathan Drouin, D Jason Garrison

PLAYER TO WATCH: C Steven Stamkos returns from a knee injury that limited the two-time Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner to 17 games and a career-low nine goals last season, when the Lightning missed the playoffs after reaching the Stanley Cup Final and Eastern Conference finals the previous two years. Even though the four-time All-Star is entering his 10th NHL season, he's just 27 years old. And if healthy, he's confident he will perform at a high level.

OUTLOOK: Despite missing the playoffs last season, there's no reason to believe the Lightning is in a downward spiral. With young goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, forwards Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, defenceman Victor Hedman and centre Tyler Johnson leading the way, the team nearly overcame a slow start to squeeze into the post-season last spring. The return of Stamkos and forward Ryan Callahan, another veteran who missed most of last season because of injury, plus the off-season acquisition of Mikhail Sergachez and veterans Chris Kunitz and Dan Girardi could elevate Tampa Bay back among the top teams in the East.

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For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

The Associated Press




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