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Game 2 against Pens is "huge" for Tampa Bay Lightning, which has to stay out of the penalty box



When Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos called Game 2 of the first-round playoff series with the Penguins "huge," he wasn't kidding. Only 41 times in the history of seven-game series has a team come back to win after trailing 2-0. That is out of 307 times in which a team trailed 2-0, that is 13.4 percent, and those are not very good odds.

"We realize," he said, "the importance of Game 2."

And after Wednesday's 3-0 loss, in which it had one power play to Pittsburgh's six, it also realizes it has to stay out of the penalty box. 

Coach Guy Boucher did not say anything controversial regarding the disparity in power plays. He even said, "We deserved those penalties." But he also didn't miss the chance to plant a seed perhaps in the minds of the officials for Friday's Game, specifically that the Penguins were second in the league during the regular season with an average 16.9 penalty minutes. It had the most penalties with 480 and the second-most times shorthanded with 324.

"They're the most penalized team in the league and they take one penalty," Boucher said. "Either they're really smart about it or we're not smart about it."

Actually, the Penguins were really smart about it. That is, James Neal was smart, when he chicken-winged Steve Downie's stick in the second period to make it seem as if Downie was hooking him. Referee Eric Furlatt bought it and Pittsburgh got a power play on which it did not score but got off six shots to start the momentum swing in its favor.

"We have to stay out of the penalty box," Stamkos said. "We have to use our drive and our speed and our compete level to stay out of the box."

And then there is this:

"We have to figure out ways to take less penalties," Boucher said. "But if they're the most penalized team in the league, it's going to show up in the next games."

Other stuff from practice: Lightning wing Marty St. Louis called the stick he took in the face from Zbynek Michalek a "careless play." St. Louis needed a double root canal after he took the stick in the mouth for which there was no penalty called. St. Louis, with only a minor fat lip as evidence of the play, was on the ice Thursday. "That's Marty for you," Stamkos said. "That's not going to be a play he lets affect him. At the end of the day there probably should have been a penalty called on that, but that's just going to make him more hungry." ... Boucher said he is thinking hard about going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen on Friday. That would indicate Randy Jones, who hasn't played since March 7 because of a high ankle sprain, and Marc-Andre Bergeron, a scratch on Wednesday, could be in the lineup. What forward would be scratched? Perhaps Dana Tyrell, who had the fewest minutes Wednesday for the Lightning. ... One of the more intriguing stats from Wednesday was that Tampa Bay lost 11 of 14 faceoffs while it was shorthanded. And while the Penguins did not score, those lost faceoffs are critical when it comes to puck possession and taking some time off the penalty clock. As captain Vinny Lecavalier said: "It's kind of a downer to lose a draw and lose 30 seconds. When you're in the penalty killing like we were (Wednesday) night, it's huge to win those draws. That first 30 seconds, not being able to set up, it's very important for sure." ... Interesting take by Boucher on the Penguins defensemen. "They’re very quick on the transition of the puck. They're very quick to break out," he said. "So, you think you have them on the forecheck, but they want to be pressed. They want to draw you to make that quick pass, and they’re very good in traffic areas to make that first pass. You either have to press them really hard or back off. If you’re stuck in between, it ain't going to work for you." ... Stamkos, who has five goals in 29 games and was a non-factor in Game 1 with one shot on goal, said he learned a lot in his first NHL playoff game. "I think you learn how much different the game is in the playoffs than the regular season," he said. "Just the intensity is there and your compete level has to rise, and that’s something for me, personally, is going to be a lot stronger in Game 2. I can tell you that for sure. For me, personally, go to the font of the net and fight for space. There’s so little time with everyone knowing the magnitude of the games to compete even harder. You may be competing hard but it's not hard enough for playoff hockey. That’s something I learned and will address."

[Last modified: Saturday, May 14, 2011 12:15am]


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