GM puts the team on notice
General manager Brian Lawton was so disappointed in Wednesday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils, he felt compelled before Thursday's game with the Rangers to publicly let his players know it.
"The biggest thing I want the players to know is that it's really not acceptable last night to come out with a point against that team," he said. "I don't know that it was in the past, but it definitely isn't in the present. ... That was a team that was down, and we have to recognize that and develop more of a killer instinct. To their credit, they did what they had to do, but it shouldn't sneak up on you."
Tampa Bay led 1-0 until New Jersey, in the second period, scored two late goals. The Lightning scored two power play goals in the third period to wipe out two one-goal deficits. A nice flurry, and Tampa Bay is 4-1-4 since two season-opening losses to the Rangers.
But Lawton said that just masks a problem.
"We have a lot of skill on our team. We need to build our structure and our organization and to combine it with more will, and we'll do fine," he said. "Right now, the success that we're having is due in large part to the skill that we have on the club, and that's only good for so long, and we realize that. We need to get that combined with a better team approach."
How do you address will?
"The players address will on their own," Lawton said. "You can mask it for a while, but it generally comes out. Generally, when you have six games in nine nights it comes out. Generally, when you're on a five-game road trip, it comes out. Those are the types of situations that make it more difficult to mask those things."
That is why, as Lawton has said, the rest of this five-game road swing and the Nov. 13 game against the Red Wings at home (which makes six games in nine days) is so important.
If will is not shown, Lawton said, "At that stage, the process is really simple for me. You ask people if they want to be here, if they want to be a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning because there's not enough commitment. A lot of players didn't show me, even though I heard a lot of things about a lot of people wanting to be part of our team this summer. I didn't leave the rink last night thinking that, and it really disturbed me."