Good news for struggling Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos? D Mike Lundin back in action
Okay, I have to admit, that Steven Stamkos reference in the headline is a little misleading. But Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who is doing his best to keep things upbeat during a very tough time for the team, turned the star center's scoring problems into a positive Wednesday morning.
Asked what he could tell a kid who is going through his first bad slump in two years (one goal in 12 games), Boucher said, "Good for him because it'll make him a better man and better player for it. People who don't go through adversity are not very strong. They are used to seeing things in a very light way."
Still, Boucher said, "It's difficult for him right now."
The thing is, Boucher said, "To me he's not playing bad at all. It's just not going in. He hit another post (against Montreal). Honestly, it's become ridiculous because I don't think I've ever seen anybody hit so many posts. If you try to hit as many posts you couldn't. So, it's a matter of inches now and half inches. I don't want him to think about scoring now. Just play hard. When it comes, it comes, and it will."
Said Stamkos: "It's about trying to stay the course, as hard as it is, because you want to change things, maybe cheat offensively to get that goal that helps the team win. You just have to stay the course and try to stay positive. You know it's going to change. It's just a matter of time."
Boucher said he likely will keep Stamkos at right wing, but won't necessarily keep Vinny Lecavalier at center between Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, a configuration that worked well Monday against the Capitals. Instead, Boucher said, Dominic Moore will get the call at center between the two star wings, though circumstances of the game will dictate the line combinations.
Though the Lightning does not keep its players in rigid formation, playing Stamkos at right wing doesn't change a lot when it comes to his assignments in a game, but Boucher said he hoped to generate for his young star a few ore "straight line scoring chances."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Seems as if Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. No surprise after a fine game against the Capitals in a 2-1 shootout loss. ... No official word from the team on right wing Steve Downie's injuries, but it makes sense that the second injury he is battling, in addition to a lingering high ankle sprain, is a right knee problem sustained on that knee-to-knee hit with Boston's Shawn Thornton on March 3. Both injuries are to the same leg, which makes treating one or the other more difficult. For what it's worth, Downie was walking without a limp around the locker room on Wednesday, though Boucher could not offer a timetable for his return. "It could take five days," he said, "or it could take three weeks." ... With defenseman Randy Jones out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain on his left leg sustained Monday against the Capitals, Mike Lundin is back in the lineup a little sooner than anticipated. The original timetable had him back this weekend. Lundin is healed from an abdominal injury that kept him out of 13 games. His conditioning is the question. "I'm not at my peak that I would be at the middle of the year," he said. "But you know I'm well-rested, and I will have a lot of energy." Asked how long that could last, Lundin laughed. "we'll find out," he said. "I don't know. It's kind of like the beginning of the year when you train ail summer and you think you're in great shape and you get out there for games and you never know how you're going to react." Boucher called tonight's game Lundin's "get-in-shape game," and added he will go with seven defensemen to ease Lundin's minutes. ... Even with Lundin's return, the Tampa Bay blue line is banged up. Pavel Kubina has a lower-body injury and Marc-Andre Bergeron still has some soreness form back spasms. " And, of course, Jones is out. ... Boucher said the "worst" thing that could have happened to Tampa Bay is the Blackhawks losing Tuesday against the Panthers. In other words, "They'll come out hard," Boucher said.