Tampa Bay Lightning hit lull in the upcoming schedule

Tampa Bay will only play 8 games in next 5 weeks
Tampa Bay Lightning practice 1/26/2022
Posted at 12:23 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 18:02:53-05

TAMPA, Fla. — At the midpoint of the NHL season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a fast start, tied for first place (with Florida Panthers with 61 points) in the Eastern Conference. But, things are about to slow down.

The Lightning is going to have a very light schedule for the next month with only eight games from now until the end of February.

“I think it’s a good thing for the whole team to take a break and relax, heal up a bit,” Lightning forward Ondrej Palat said. “The last two months are crazy. There are so many games. We’re going to need everybody in shape for those two months.”

The gap in the schedule was caused by the All-Star Break combined with, what would have been, an Olympic break. But after the NHL backed out of the Beijing Winter Olympics, those two weeks are now used to re-schedule games canceled by COVID-19.

“It’s like, things you can’t control you don’t worry about, especially the schedule,” Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. “Schedules have changed so many times behind the scenes that people don’t know about.”

Just when it appeared the Bolts moved past the COVID issues, star forward Nikita Kucherov entered COVID protocols and will miss at least five days.

“I’m not worried. I’m not sure what the numbers are. It’s been kind of the norm sadly,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “Guys get it, you’re out probably five days, then you come back. It’s unfortunate. If you get it, hope it’s during our break. Hopefully, it’s not something that takes guys down again.”

The Lightning only had three games postponed that need to be re-scheduled — that’s tied for the fewest amount of make-up games in the league.

The Bolts next game is Thursday night against New Jersey at Amalie Arena.