Sheahan ready to dump some ‘dirty goals’ behind Bishop

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Riley Sheahan – AGE: 24. CONTRACT: Restricted free agent. COMMENT: Another young player who never took the next step in his development. Consistency has been an issue. VERDICT: Likely staying.

Brandon, Florida – It’s been a different looking Riley Sheahan the last several weeks.

Sheahan has used his big body and touch around the net to be an effective net-front presence for the Red Wings, while also using his skating ability to forecheck and play a robust, end-to-end game.

And now, with the playoffs beginning Wednesday, it’s important Sheahan maintain this level of play.

“There are times when, over the course of the season, he didn’t have that jump,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Over the last month, he’s been skating well, and when he skates well he gets a lot more involved, he’s on the forecheck, and he gets stick on puck and wins puck battles.

“He has a little extra jump in his step.”

Sheahan’s ability to create havoc around the crease could be a crucial tipping point in this series against Tampa Bay. Game 1 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is 6-foot-7 and covers much of the net and can see over opposing players.

Whatever the Red Wings can do to disrupt Bishop’s vision or concentration will be important.

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“I don’t think he really likes chaos in front of him,” Sheahan said. “He’s a big guy, he can see over a lot of people. It would be huge to get pucks there and create havoc and score some dirty goals.

“Being in front of the net will be huge for us.”

Sheahan believes the entire roster has picked up the intensity over the last few weeks while getting into the playoffs.

“All of our guys are bearing down, and especially that last little run in making the playoffs,” Sheahan said. “I’m feeling comfortable and playing with some good players.”

Johnson skates

Tampa forward Tyler Johnson (upper body) practiced Tuesday, as did every Lightning player but Steven Stamkos (blood clot, arm) and Anton Stralman (fractured leg), both of whom aren’t expected to play in the series.

Johnson was pushed into the boards Saturday in Montreal.

“I feel pretty good, getting better every day,” Johnson said. “I’m still trying to decide (whether he’s playing). We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”