A little stability right now is a good thing
GM Brian Lawton wants to see what he's got on the roster and how it reacts to coach Rick Tocchet. That is why Lawton said he does not foresee any big moves in the near future. "There might be some things on the fringes," he said.
But he wants some stability to let the team and the coaching staff grow together. Of course, nothing is in stone, and if something falls in Lawton's lap he will react. (We're still waiting to see if long-shot Mats Sundin decides if Tampa Bay is one of three or four teams with which he will negotiate to play.) But for now, it sounds like there might be some relative calm for a while, and that's fine with Tocchet.
"It's a big thing," he said. "When you have a team like ours and you're trying to find who we are right now, I think you're always going to tinker. But what Brian is saying, the stability part, and seeing what we got here for the next couple of weeks, it's a good thing for the guys to know that. They can go out there, relax and go out and play."
Tocchet said he knows the next little while is not just to evaluate players.
"It's an evaluation period for me, too," he said. "Obviously, you wish you had training camp; this is kind of like our training camp. But you're judged by wins and losses, too. we have to start putting some wins together."
From the morning skate: Tocchet said he will stress that players get to the net on the power play, the home version of which is the league's worst at 10.8 percent. It might even be something with which he rewards playing time. "We're going to start going, if you're not going in front of the net, you can't play," Tocchet said. "We need results and we have to start getting traffic. I told the guys, when I watch the power play, I want to see three or four (Lightning) shirts after shots, not just one guy waiving at it. If you look at all the god power play, they always have somebody in front, always." ... Tocchet said Marty St. Louis will continue to play the power-play point but tonight likely also will play at forward. While Tocchet said he still likes St. Louis at the point -- "He calms things down and makes good decisions" -- he believes he can provide some need firepower too. Also defenseman Steve Eminger is proving capable at the point, which gives Tocchet another option. ... It's a ways down the road, but Tocchet said he would like to see Steven Stamkos perhaps play the point. ... Center Chris Gratton (lower body) is a game-time decision. Left wing Gary Roberts (upper body) is out. ... Tocchet will keep rotating his lines, he said, but try to keep two-man combinations together such as Vinny Lecavalier and St. Louis, Jussi Jokinen and Mark Recchi, Vinny Prospal and Radim Vrbata, and Adam Hall and Gratton. "It keeps guys alive on the bench," Tocchet said of the line changes.