TAMPA Youth Troy Niklas Jersey , Fla. — Jon Cooper isn’t looking ahead by any means, but the Tampa Bay coach fully recognizes the opportunity to rest his team if the Lightning can close out their opening-round series with the New Jersey Devils by winning Game 5 on Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena.
“If you have a chance to win a series, do it,” Cooper explained Friday with his team staked to a 3-1 series lead after a 3-1 win on Wednesday night in Newark. “It’s the travel, it’s the wear. Just to get the mental and physical rest, to sit around and hope all the other series go deep. If you have this opportunity, you hope to take advantage of it.”
The Lightning have looked like the Eastern Conference’s top seed in building a 3-1 lead against the Devils, who had won all three regular-season meetings with Tampa Bay.
The Lightning have scored consistently — 15 goals in four games — and have shored up one key area of concern in their penalty-kill unit. It ranked among the league’s worst in the regular season, but has been stellar of late, holding the Devils to 2 of 16 on power plays in the last three games..
New Jersey has already switched goalies Aroldis Chapman Jersey , moving on from Keith Kincaid in the middle of Game 2 after he gave up nine goals in less than five periods. Cory Schneider has been better, and Devils coach John Hynes said he feels confident in his team being able to take the series back to New Jersey for Game 6.
“I think we’re right there,” he said Friday. “I think we’re prepared. We’re ready to play. Let’s get at it.”
Hynes had no update on whether defenseman Sami Vatanen would go Saturday after sustaining an upper-body injury on a check by Lightning star Nikita Kucherov, who was not suspended by the league. Kucherov has been the series’ leading scorer, with four goals and five assists, far more than New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, who has just two goals and four assists.
Schneider will have his hands full containing the Lightning on its home ice. In addition to Kucherov, Alex Killorn has four goals, three on power plays, and Steven Stamkos has four assists as well.
“(Schneider) looks a lot more confident. He’s playing the calm game Authentic Luke Falk Jersey , the quiet game, and it’s nice to see him come in there and play the way he has,” Hynes said.
The Lightning have stayed with top goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy throughout the series — he’s now one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, just as top defenseman Victor Hedman is a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
What those two can earn for sure is a few days’ rest with a win Saturday, knowing other series are already locked in for at least six games, if not seven.
Tampa Bay would face the winner of the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, where Boston is in the same position with a 3-1 series lead. But Columbus and Washington will play at least six games, as will Philadelpha and Pittsburgh, potentially giving Tampa Bay and Boston an extended rest before the second round.
Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner has no plans to restrict Cam Newton’s ability to make plays with his feet. As for the quarterback’s throwing motion, well that might need a little tweaking.
The 65-year-old Turner said he returned to coaching because of an opportunity to work again with Panthers coach Ron Rivera – who was on his coaching staff for four seasons in San Diego – and to coach the talented group of offensive players led by Newton.
”He’s an amazing player for his position Youth Kendall Wright Jersey ,” Turner said Tuesday on a conference call.
The versatile 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton has carried the ball 828 times over the past seven seasons – by far the most in the league by a quarterback during that span. By comparison, Seattle’s Russell Wilson has run the ball 578 times during his six seasons in the league.
While it’s logical to question how much pounding Newton’s body can take – he turns 29 in May – it’s also hard to argue with his success.
He’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry and has scored 54 touchdowns rushing, which is the most by a QB in NFL history. And Newton tends to play better when he’s more involved in the running game.
”He’s a real threat to defenses,” Tuner said. ”So he will always have that threat to run.”
That should be music to Newton’s ears.
After Newton carried the ball a career-high 139 times last season and led the Panthers in rushing with 754 yards, he said ”that’s my edge.”
”I wouldn’t expect you or anybody else to take it away,” Newton said following Carolina’s season-ending playoff loss at New Orleans. ”And when I say you, I mean the media as a whole. I’m comfortable running the football, I feel like I help the team when I’m running the football, and as long as I’m playing this game Cheap Marcedes Lewis Jersey , I’m going to run the football.”
Turner suggested that he and his son Scott Turner, the team’s new quarterbacks coach, will look to improve Newton’s throwing mechanics.
Because he’s so big Newton has a tendency to rely on his strong arm and throw off his back foot, often resulting in high throws that lead to incompletions or interceptions. Turner said that while sometimes those types of throws are necessary under pressure, the staff ”is going to work hard to get his weight transferred and have good technique when he is throwing.”
Turner said the Panthers overall system won’t change much, although he wants to be able to stretch the field vertically to force defenses to cover the entire field.
He believes Newton has the arm strength to do that.
Turner said he had a brief conversation with Newton after being hired.
”We didn’t get into a lot of football,” Turner said. ”As he expressed to me – and I feel the same way – there is excitement and nervousness. When you have change there is nervousness. Sometimes that nervousness is good and it gets your attention. It’s not status quo and you use that as a time to improve.”