For­mer Light­ning player makes good

Tampa Bay Times - - Morning Briefing -

A fa­mil­iar face is get­ting plenty of no­tice in the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal with the Cap­i­tals. Brett Con­nolly, the Light­ning’s first-round pick (sixth over­all) in the 2010 draft, played 134 games for the Light­ning, with 18 goals and 14 as­sists, but never be­came what the Light­ning had hoped he would be. Tampa Bay traded Con­nolly to the Bru­ins in 2015 for a pair of sec­ond-round picks. He ended up sign­ing with the Cap­i­tals as a free agent in 2016.

Con­nolly, 26, has two goals and an as­sist in the se­ries — which the Light­ning tied at 2 with a 4-2 win in Game 4 on Thurs­day — af­ter a 15-goal reg­u­lar sea­son.

“It’s com­ing,” Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz said of Con­nolly be­fore the game. “(Con­nolly has) been around the league for a while, but he’s still a young player. I think he’s just right in his prime.”

Cooper said he has a soft spot for Con­nolly be­cause they share a home­town: Prince Ge­orge, Bri­tish Columbia. “He’s a gifted scorer,” Cooper said. “That was kind of his go-to, but there was not a ton else to his game (as a younger player). But now he plays (de­fense), he’s re­spon­si­ble, he’s hard on pucks, got a strong stick. I’m ac­tu­ally re­ally im­pressed with the way he has de­vel­oped. It took him a lit­tle bit of time to fig­ure it all out.”

Getty Im­ages

Brett Con­nolly, go­ing against An­drei Vasilevskiy in Game 4 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal, has ma­tured as a player since the Light­ning drafted him in 2010’s first round, coach Jon Cooper says.

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