Boyle: Core must set an example
Members of the Lightning's core group of players, that is forwards Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, and defenseman Dan Boyle are in a place they haven't been since 2002, trying to find some self motivation while playing out what to Tampa Bay are generally meaningless games. But Boyle said that is no excuse to mail it in, which, kind of, is what happened Monday against the Thrashers. Boyle said it is up to the core guys to set an example for the rest of the team.
"If we give up, it certainly doesn't send the right message to the young guys we have,'' Boyle said. "The last four years we haven't had to motivate ourselves most nights. The last three weeks you have to find a way to motivate yourself to play.''
Certainly you can't have stats like these: St. Louis has zero points in his past five games and is minus-5. Go back even further for St. Louis and it gets even worse. He is minus-23 since Feb. 16. Lecavalier has one assist in his past five games and is minus-5. He is minus-20 since Feb. 16.
Coach John Tortorella agreed in the bigger picture, these games are tough. As he said. "I can't wait till this (bleep) is over.'' But he said he does not agree that you give in to a situation.
"It disgusts me,'' he said. I don't agree with it and I never will. You play to the bitter end. We're going to fight as a coaching staff to the bitter end, and I think players should be that way, especially in a young group that we have with the core being our leadership. They need to set an example.'
It better start tonight, which begins a back-to-back against two very motivated opponents, the Hurricanes and Capitals, who are fighting for the division title and a playoff spot.
"Obviously, we have pride,'' Boyle said. "We have to match their effort.''
Other stuff from this morning: MIke Smith is in goal again after a game against the Thrashers in which he showed some self control when it comes to handling the puck. Interesting Torts said how the coaching staff has brought Smith and the defense together for meetings to make sure both sides understand what they need from the other in terms of moving the puck. "What I've explained to him,'' Tortorella said of Smith, "is you don't have to play every puck. Sometimes you may just stop it for the D.'' ... Torts has become very high on defenseman Matt Smaby who has gotten stronger and stronger in his seven games and on Monday played a career-high 19:40. ... Mike Lundin will continue getting power play time, mostly for the experience. ... Tortorella said center Jeff Halpern has agreed to play for the United States at the world championship. ...