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Lightning coach Rick Tocchet: it's up to Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay to break slumps



The scoring slumps of Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay are growing to concerning proportions.

Lecavalier has zero goals in six games this season and none in 13 straight games going back to last season. Tanguay has zero goals this season as well and none in nine games going back to last season. At least Lecavalier has five assists and 24 shots on goal. Tanguay has just one assist and six shots.

After Tampa Bay's 7-1 loss to the Senators, Tanguay said, "I (stink) right now."

Much has been made about the right wing on that line, or the lack of one that has been consistent. It gets another makeover tonight against the Penguins as Steve Downie gets the call. But Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said the slumps of two of his best players won't be broken by shifting personnel. It is up to them.

"I thought Vinny and Tangs were getting chances , but in the last couple of games not as many," Tocchet said. "I think that has more to do not with personnel but more their style. We have to get them playing more north-south. They've been a little too much east-west, and a little too much perimeter, and they know it."

They were nearly invisible against Ottawa. Lecavalier had zero shots and Tanguay missed a chance from in front of the net in the first period. Tocchet said sometimes a lack of success takes players out of their games because they begin pressing.

"You start doing things you don't normally do," Tocchet said. "You start turning pucks over at the blue line. All the best players in the league, the Ovechkins, the Crosbys, play north-south. They dance around and got the moves, but when they're struggling, they go to the net, and that's just Hockey 101. There's nothing more than playing north-south style, shooting the puck, to get out of a slump. You start going east-west, it's tough."

Tanguay said he is not worried about the slump.

"I'm a little mad it's happening,  but I'm not worried about it," he said. "I'm my own worst critic. The pressure from the outside doesn't faze me too much. The pressure I put on myself is far greater than anything anyone can put on me. I know I'm a better player than that, and hopefully I can get it together, and that's only up to me. If I work as hard as I need to, it will come back. It always has, and probably will this time around. If not, it's not because I won't be trying."

More stuff from the morning skate:

Tocchet was asked about perhaps putting right wing Marty St. Louis on Lecavalier's line to try and spark the pair. But Tocchet said there is no reason to break up a good line like center Steven Stamkos with wings Ryan Malone and St. Louis, especially considering that line has accounted for 12 of Tampa Bay's 16 goals. "To break up a line to get an individual going, I don't know if I agree with that. If the team was struggling, then yeah." ... Tocchet said Downie must not try to change his game when playing with Lecavalier and Tanguay. He has to stick to his straight ahead style and not try to be more of a skill player than he is. ... With only four games in the next two weeks, Tocchet said he will conduct practices like an extended training camp. "We need a little bit of good practices, good skating practices, good tactical practices. I think this team needs a lot of repetition." ... His game hasn't fallen dramatically, but Tocchet said rookie defenseman Victor Hedman needs to clean a few things up. "The last few games he's gotten a little bit too up in the play. We have to settle him down a bit but I love that he wants to be involved in plays. I don't want to take that away from him. we just have to settle him down." ... Despite allowing three shorthanded goals the past two games, Tocchet said he did not make any changes to the power play. Part of that, of course, is he is limited with what he can do given the team's composition and that it has just 12 forwards. But it also is tactical. "I talked to the key players and they know they have to be better at that," Tocchet said. "You've got to give them a chance to come back. You can't make changes to make changes." ... Left wing Ryan Malone, a Pittsburgh native who left the Penguins after the 2007-08 season to sign with the Lightning, said he never thought "what-if" after the Penguins won last season's Stanley Cup. "No, I don't, really," he said. "No regrets or anything. It's just part of the business."     

[Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009 12:15am]


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