Big line changes for Tampa Bay Lightning: Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis back together
Guess Saturday night was just a tease because it looks like Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis will be playing together for the short-term anyway. The move was one of several made by coach Rick Tocchet after an 0-2 road trip in which the Lightning was outscored 11-2 and actually regressed a bit from the promise it showed earlier in the season.
Another significant move, Alex Tanguay was taken off Lecavalier's line. Neither Tanguay nor Lecavalier has a goal this season. Lecavalier hasn't scored in 14 games going back to last season.
While the changes are to kick-star an offense that has all but shut down and was top-heavy to begin with as the line of Malone-Stamkos-St. Louis had accounted for 13 of Tampa Bay's 17 goals, a lot of this is to get Lecavalier going.
Here are the lines as constructed during Sunday's hour-long practice at the Ice Sports Forum:
James Wright-Vinny Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis
Ryan Malone-Steven Stamkos-Steve Downie
Alex Tanguay-Jeff Halpern-Drew Miller
Todd Fedoruk-Zenon Konopka-Stephane Veilleux
Since my story tomorrow can't accommodate everything that was said about the moves, here is a quick run around the locker room:
Coach Rick Tocchet on Lecavalier: "We have a few guys struggling. Obviously, the focus is on Vinny because of his stature. We've got to get him going, and it's not so much even five-on-five. He's really not getting chances the past three or four games. Hopefully, Marty can help him get back to where he has chances. There are a few things we're going to work on with him. I know he'll buy in to get his game back and those chances, and Marty is a step for him."
Tocchet on taking St. Louis off Stamkos' line: "(Stamkos) has an excellent winger in Malone, and Downs and him had success last year. Like I said, you may have to chip a little here to get stronger somewhere else. Stammer can be that good where he can carry certain people sometimes. But even that line (Malone-Stamkos-St. Louis) has given up too many goals, too, so nobody is exempt right now."
Tocchet on why Wright will play with Lecavalier: "He's just going to dog the puck. You just need somebody like that. Quite frankly, you're just trying to find a guy who will work hard on that line and dog pucks."
Tocchet when asked if the changes were all about Vinny: "No, it's a part. Obviously, he's a big part of the team, but it's not the Vinny Lightning, it's the Tampa Bay Lightning. But he's a big part of it. and we have to try to help him get better, and that's my job. That doesn't mean I wouldn't go back to Marty, Malone and Stamkos at any time, but i just think Vinny has to clean his game up, like a lot of guys."
Tocchet on Tanguay: "He's out of whack. he knows it. He's losing positioning in defensive zone coverage. I know Tangs. He gets like that every once in a while. Hopefully, playing with Halpy and Miller, he can be a straight-line guy with those guys."
Lecavalier on playing with St. Louis: "Obviously, I played three years with Marty, and we played very well together. I think we know each other on the ice. We know each other well, we skate well. I hope it's going to get a spark."
Lecavalier on struggles with Tanguay: "Yeah, I'm disappointed. I'm sure he's disappointed, too. Things weren't going in. And when you lose a little bit of confidence, the last couple of games were tough. They weer tough on everybody. Nothing was going on five-on-five with all four lines. That's why we made ail these switches."
St. Louis on playing with Lecavalier: "When the team doesn't get success, things are going to switch around. I think it's for the better of the team, and we're going to start that way and see where it takes us. I played with Vinny many games. We've got to find a way to get this team back on track."
Stamkos on losing St. Louis: "Obviously, things are going well with me, Bugsy and Marty, and it's always nice to play with a guy like Marty. But if the coaching staff feels we need to change things up, to get this team back on track ... like I said, things were going well, but, obviously, not well enough if we're still losing games. You understand the coaches' decision, obviously there's an explanation behind it, and we respect and trust our coaches. we're just going to go out there and work our hardest, no mater who we're playing with and take it from there."
Tanguay on his game: "I know I'm not playing the best right now. ... I don't care who he plays me with. I just feel that I'm not contributing. I'm not helping the team right now. But it's a long season, so I'll just keep working on my game. Things have always turned around. It's certainly tough to sleep right now, but it's part of the game, I guess."