Did Tampa Bay Lightning bag skate come at the right time or was it needed sooner?
So, as we read in today's paper, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet put his players through a 40-minute bag skate on Sunday as punishment, or was that a reminder, of how badly the team played during Saturday's 7-1 loss to Buffalo. The question wasn't did the team deserve it because it did, but should it have come sooner?
After all, there are seven games left in the season and it seems the Lightning's slim playoff hopes are done. Center Zenon Konopka said the players deserved it, even this late in the season.
"Absolutely," he said. "It's unacceptable for us not to make the playoffs. We can't just shrug things off and say we gave it the old college try. We have to learn from our mistakes. If you have a child who touches something really hot and maybe doesn't burn himself, you still tell the child it's not what you're supposed to do. If you don't, then you have a problem child."
Still, it's late in the season to be putting the hammer down, no? Could this have been more effective had it been done after whatever bad game earlier in the season? It's an interesting question and I can see it both ways. I think what might have been the catalyst here is that the players just didn't show up for a very important game.
There also is a point about timing. Tampa Bay had two days between games and Tocchet could afford to skate the guys into the ground knowing the players had an extra day to get their legs back. Don't know how many times those factors -- a really bad game followed by a couple days off -- lined up previously during the season, but I'm sure not many.
That said, Sunday's skate, as deserved as it was, just seems too little too late. Perhaps that is because the loss to the Sabres was a moment that kind of said, okay, you really aren't going to playoffs. Either ay, we'll see how the team responds Tuesday against the Blue Jackets, even if the team is playing only for pride.