Former Lightning player makes good
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.”
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.