Lalonde’s first appearance was in the first intermission of Game 1 of the Toronto Maple Leafs-Tampa Bay Lightning series at Scotiabank Arena. He was on the TV set along with Sportsnet host Ron MacLean, former NHLers Kelly Hrudey and Kevin Bieksa along with hockey insider Elliotte Friedman.
“Big debut for DET coach Derek Lalonde as an analyst,” Friedman tweeted. “He good.”
Lalonde, who was an assistant coach for four seasons with the two-time Stanley Cup champion Lightning before guiding the Red Wings to a 35-37-10 record this season, said Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was trying to put checking center Anthony Cirelli on Toronto’s high-scoring center Auston Matthews.
“He wants the Cirelli line checking Matthews as much as he can and, when they get back to Tampa, that will be his matchup,” Lalonde said. “Coop is just sending him out there. (Toronto coach) Sheldon (Keefe) is going to try and keep Matthews away from Cirelli.”
Lalonde also praised the Tampa Bay defensemen for moving up into the play and helping the Lightning take a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
“For me, Tampa is on their game when the ‘D’ is gapping, when they’re on their toes and when they’re part of the play,” Lalonde said. “Here’s (Mikhail) Sergachev, right on top of it. There’s that gap again. (Nick) Perbix, great job. Look at the aggressive kill there and then the transition. Tampa is good when there’s no time and space.”
In the second intermission, Lalonde was asked by MacLean if Corey Perry’s goal for Tampa Bay should’ve been disallowed because of goalie interference on Ilya Samsonov.
“I am the wrong guy to ask about goalie interference,” said Lalonde, who was ejected for arguing goalie interference against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 28. “In today’s landscape, they want to keep goals on the board. The puck was loose and there was a little shove on the pad there.”
With Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedmen injured in the first period and defenseman Erik Cernak sidelined after a five-minute match penalty against Michael Bunting in the second period, Lalonde was asked by Bieksa what forward could move back on the blueline with only four defensemen.
“You’re going to roll your eyes but we’ve been in this position before,” Lalonde said. “Pat Maroon has shuffled back before. That’s the amazing thing. He’s done it. I would not be shocked. He’s going to get fourth-line minutes anyways. You might need him out there to police a little bit considering it’s a 6-2 game.”
Lalonde didn’t appear after the game won by the Lightning, 7-3. A promotion for Sportsnet’s coverage said Lalonde would appear during the playoffs.