With Lightning not playing "desperate" enough, expect lineup changes Saturday
Lightning coach Guy Boucher held a meeting Friday morning rather than practice because the issues facing his team have little to do with X’s and O’s and strategy.
Rather, Boucher feels it’s the players state of mind. He doesn’t see the same relentlessness and desperation that drove them to the Eastern Conference Final last season. It’s not the “sophomore jinx,” it’s what he calls “sophomore psychology,” believing in last year’s results instead of the process it took to get there.
As a result, Tampa Bay (1-2-1) is under .500 heading into tonight’s game against the Panthers which wraps up a season-long five-game road trip.
“Sophomore psychology is thinking you thinking you’re good, that’s why you don’t perform,” Boucher said. “The problem is, we think we are what we were last year at the end of the year – we’re not. We’re not at all, we’re not the same team. It’s a different year, different situation. And we got to grind it out every game. And even if we play at our best, and play desperate hockey and give everything we’ve got, we might lose. Why? Because the other team is desperate and wants to make the playoffs and need to prove something.”
To get his team to play with more desperation, Boucher said he tried to make them see the "big picture" Friday morning, and that is - they won't return to the playoffs if they don't play more desperate than other teams.
Other things from the morning availability: Boucher also said he plans to shake up the lineup a bit, wanting to get more grit and speed in there. He wants to play both Blair Jones and Tom Pyatt, because they bring intensity, battle level and reliability defensively. Boucher didn't know who would come out, but one possibility could be wing Teddy Purcell, who was benched in the third period Thursday for not having the same consistent battle level. “You never like to sit on the bench in the third period,” Purcell said. “But I have nobody else to blame but myself.” To that point, Boucher said of Purcell: "When he competes, he's an outstanding player. When he doesn't compete, he's blow average. I've seen him do it (battle) when it counted the most, I've seen him do it when playing tough teams.. You've got to be involved in the battles, right now I think he's thinking too much."..Boucher hasn't decided who will start in net, Roloson or Garon.....Boucher pointed out that it's been turnovers that have consistently killed them this year, saying that nine of the Islanders 17 scoring chances Thursday came directly from Tampa Bay giveaways.
All this adversity, Boucher said, can be a good thing, a building block for success.
"If you panic and can't see the sun behind the clouds, that's where you drift off and you become worse," Boucher said. "This is a great opportunity for us to live adversity and know why we're good, and that's what we need to do, and do it consistently. We aren't doing anything different than last year, we're just starting with a different frame of mind, bu it all starts with the frame of mind. That's everything."
--- JOE SMITH