A meeting with Boucher helped goaltenders get a new focus
Coach Guy Boucher said the inconsistency from his goaltenders isn’t due to a lack of talent or effort.
In fact, Boucher felt G Mike Smith and G Dan Ellis were trying to do too much, and a meeting he had with the two Friday helped them simplify their approach and focus.
Ellis said the meeting went great, with the two points of emphasis on cutting the first shot goals, and not leaving the net as much to play the puck.
“They want to do so well that they’re focusing on too many things at the same time,” Boucher said. “They want to stop the shot and the backdoor and maybe if it’s a 2-on-1 and maybe if there’s a guy open, and that usually has a tendency to happen when things are not going the way you want and you want to do so good that you’re focusing on too many things. Right now, they’re going to focus on that first shot and everybody else will take care of everything else that’s coming.”
The Lightning’s defense has played well, allowing the second fewest shots per game at 27.7, but its combined save percentage entered Saturday’s game a league worst .878.
“The biggest thing we want to eliminate is the first shot goals and the goals that are just momentum killers,” Ellis said. “Even though you can say there have been some bad bounces, you want to try to eliminate those situations. When the puck is on the glass, don’t go behind the net.”
Ellis said Boucher’s suggestions and constructive criticism was welcomed.
“When everything takes a turn for the worse, you’re always going to reflect internally and you’re never really accurate so when you get exactly what the coach is thinking and wanting and you know exactly what to focus on, it minimizes your distractions and you’re able to go out there and play your game.”
Said Boucher: “I think it’s going to help them because they’re good goaltenders, they’ve just had a more difficult time lately. But I trust them and I have confidence that they’re going to rebound.”
-- JOE SMITH