After 4 days of "extended training camp," Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet issues a warning
The Tampa Bay Lightning finished on Wednesday what was considered four days of "extended training camp." Players went through skating drills and drills pointed to areas that have been deficient the past few games; battles for the puck, defensive zone coverages and breakouts. The breakouts will be even more important Thursday when the Lightning plays the forecheck-happy Sharks.
So, after all that, coach Rick Tocchet predictably wants to see results.
"As a coach, you want players to police themselves," Tocchet said. "But my approach is starting to change here. The first three or four games I was fairly happy with the direction. Guys were working hard. But we hit a bump here, so, yeah, you're looking for people to police themselves. I'm not saying they're not doing it. I just think the leash is going to be a lot shorter if it gets a little bit off kilter."
What exactly does the coach mean by a shorter leash?
"I might have to shorten the bench if guys aren't going, and I will do that," Tocchet said.
In other words, people might lose playing time. It is the only hammer Tocchet has to wield, really. The team is carrying just 12 forwards, and there isn't any push at all right now from the minors. So, Tocchet has to use what is at his disposal, and that is ice time.
Having said that, Tocchet was very pleased with the four days of workouts, one of which was off ice.
"We worked them pretty good, and I think the guys are starting to understand we have a lot of work to do, and the guys willing to put the work in and listen are going to be successful," Tocchet said. "That's the key to this whole thing. This week I really wanted to put the grind stone to some guys and see how they reacted. I think they reacted well, but the big test is tomorrow night to find out who wants to produce and work and do the right thing."
Captain Vinny Lecavalier also thought the workouts were good.
I think the guys are feeling good," he said. "Guys are practicing very well. It's been two days of hard but intense and smart practices. Today wasn't as long. It was perfect. Sunday, Tuesday really hard. Today, as hard but shorter."
On another note, defenseman Matt Smaby (upper body) was back on the ice on Wednesday. No word on when he will be ready to play.