Tampa Bay's Jon Cooper takes shot at Detroit's Derek Lalonde

Tampa Bay's head coach didn't like the assertion from his former assistant!



The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the ropes in their Round 1 Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, having lost two straight games on home ice in overtime, in which both of them they held the lead. Former Conn Smythe Trophy winning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been extremely human in the postseason, sporting a completely uncharacteristic 4.33 goals against average and .856 save percentage.

One particular figure who is no longer with the organization but knows Vasilevskiy well is current Detroit Red Wings bench boss Derek Lalonde, who served as an assistant with the Lightning for four years and helped them to consecutive Stanley Cup titles. Lalonde is currently serving as an analyst on Sportsnet for the 2023 postseason, and had this to say about the Russian goaltender's struggles: 

“We had done a study back in the day,” Lalonde explained, that revealed he is “one of the lower percentage goalies in finding pucks from the point. So we actually changed our entire D-zone and improved our pass rush.”

The Leafs have taken advantage of beating Vasilevskiy from the point in this series, including Morgan Rielly's overtime winner in Game 3 that was fired from barely inside the blue line. But Cooper apparently wasn't pleased with his former assistant's assertion, and pushed back on it with the implication that it's just something he made up.

“I heard about it. Listen, Sportsnet is paying him well to go give an opinion, so he has to make something up about that kind of stuff," Cooper said. 

“We are playing, so we can’t watch what is going on. He is there because he was an assistant coach on this team. He is trying to offer insight and give the fans something. He should be doing that. It’s just making sure it’s accurate in what he is saying.”

It sounds like Cooper wasn't very receptive to Lalonde's view! We'll see if Cooper, Vasilevskiy and the rest of the Lightning can stave off elimination when they take on the Leafs tomorrow night from Scotiabank Arena. 

Source: Sportsnet