Melrose says what had to be said
Barry Melrose describes himself as a glass half full guy. He finds positives in almost anything, and "awesome," is his favorite word. So it was sin that vein that Melrose criticized his best players for not showing enough spunk in their first game going after and holding the puck.
"We have to hit the net more and we have to get the puck to the net more five-on-five," Melrose said after Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss to the Rangers in which the Lightning was outshot 41-21 and 16-3 in the second period
"That's sort of an internal battle with our skill players," he continued. "They don't like to shoot it and they don't like to get it. That's something we have to change."
Now, some caveats. There were a lot of things happening that made that game what it was. For one, the team takes way too many bad penalties. It took seven minors in the game. That all but sucks the life out of your offense. Vinny Lecavalier played in just his third game, and given the flashes the MVP line showed, I'm not too concerned there, and I believe players with a track record of scoring will do so in the long run.
And I think it is difficult to interpret these games because of the craziness with this training camp and the 10-day trip to Europe. I have to believe for a team trying to install a new system, the trip has made that more difficult. So, I'm not ready to make any judgments. And, hey, the goaltending was superb and the defense probably wasn't as bad as many expected, though Shane O'Brien seemed to have the most difficulty and was out of position on Markus Naslund's goal..
The best thing about hockey? There's another game today, and with a win, all will be right with the world.
But, for now, give Melrose credit. He criticized, I believe, in the right proportion for a first game under difficult circumstances. The glass may be half full, but he seemed to recognize the half that was empty as well.