How will the Lightning use new acquisition?

by Gary Shelton on February 19, 2020

in general

How will Cooper use his new acquisition?/JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Now that they have the Pickleman,what do they do with him?

Blake Coleman, the latest addition to the Tampa Bay Lightning, joins his new team Thursday night in a game against Vegas.For Jon Cooper, Coleman is a new toy, a new weapon, a new reason for his sizzling team to remain hot.

But where, exactly, does Coleman -- nicknamed Pickles because he drinks the juice to rehydrate himself -- fit it?

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Oh you know the proper line. It's the one waiting to congratulate the goaltender after another victory. Really, that's the only line that counts, isn't it?

Look, Cooper's lines have never been written in ink. If he sees a matchup that intrigues him, or an opponent who needs checking, he'll shuffle the lines in the middle of a game.

Still, there are basics. The Lightning's top line is Nikita Kucherov-Steven Stamkos-Brayden Point. That's not likely to change. Coleman is a talented backup singer, but he isn't in charge of the band.

Me? I'd put Coleman on a second line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn. There's a lot of energy there, and the three two-way players should be able to shut down an opponent.

That leaves a third line of Ondrej Palai-Tyler Johnson-Yanni Gourde. It's an undersized line, but it has the potential to get under the skin in certain situations.

The fourth line would largely be unchanged: Cedric Paquette-Pat Maroon-Mitchell Stephens. Stephens could swap in and out with another youngster in Carter Verhaeghe.

The Lightning should be feistier than ever with such a lineup. They'd have balanced scoring. Most of all, their odds of winning would be improved.

At a time like this, with an 11-game winning streak, the last thing the Lightning needs to do is to blow things up. This way, the Bolts have a chance to assimilate Coleman, to work him in slowly. Let's face it, this season will be remembered only by the way this team fares in the post-season. From now on, every move the Bolts make should be with that in mind.

Coleman is a nice player, and he was loved in New Jersey. He isn't a Kucherov, or a Stamkos, but he's another tool in the belt.

The guess here is that he'll fit in just fine.

Hopefully, he'll help turn this into a season that matters.

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