Nobody is worried about the lack of goals for Tampa Bay Lightning LW Simon Gagne
With the spotlight on Tampa Bay Lightning left wing and his return to Philadelphia tonight, we might as well ask him how he feels about being the only one of the team's top six players without a goal. Yes, it only has been two games and Gagne actually has played well with seven shots on goal. But, bottom line, he hasn't scored yet.
"I expected that," coach Guy Boucher said. "He's a new guy coming in who wants to please. It's not easy." But Boucher added, "It's just a question of time."
That is because Gagne, while without a point, has been very noticeable while on the ice. Vinny Lecavalier set Gagne up perfectly during Wednesday's game with the Canadiens. And had Gagne been able to lift the puck, he might have gotten it over goalie Carey Price's right leg.
"He's right in there battling," Boucher said. "It just hasn't paid off. If he wasn't getting chances, if he wasn't in the areas that hurt around the net and paying the price, I'd say we have to take care of steps one and two before we get to step three. But he's right there."
As for Gagne, he said what you would expect. "It's only two games. I'm not going to lie to you. There was a lot of emotions the first two games and especially this one (against the Flyers). It's tough to focus, so I think after these three games it's going to start to come to be a more normal thing."
"One, two, three," Boucher said. "He's a great player, and I'm sure he won't strike out. So, this is the third game."
As for riding to the rink tonight before the game, Gagne admitted, "That's going to be tough. I'm not going to lie to you."
Other pregame stuff: Boucher said he will go with 11 forwards and seven defenseman for the game against the Flyers, which means Matt Smaby is in on the blue line for the first time this season, and wing Dana Tyrell will be scratched along with left wing Mattias Ritola. Why seven defensemen tonight? "It's two games in two nights and I think last night took a lot of emotion out of us," Boucher said. "Having to come back takes a lot out of any team, and it usually takes the most out of the defensemen. Those are the ones who usually hurt the most. And tonight we're going against a team that likes to hit a lot, and Smaby has the perfect style to play against them. And he adds that extra defenseman to give some kind of relief to the other six in terms of ice time." ... Boucher said he will fill in the fourth line with center Nate Thompson and Adam Hall by bumping down any number of wings from the other lines. ... The blind-side hit Montreal's Maxim Lapierre put on Steve Downie on Wednesday (a five-minute boarding major) was talked about. Boucher said he did not look at the replay and does not want to because "it's the past, and right now it's about Philly." Downie reiterated that it was a "dangerous" hit and how much he appreciated Thompson intervening. "When you see something like that, you feel everrybody has your back. That's what a team is." Added Boucher: "I think we reacted well in the sense that everyone was in it. People ask me if we're going to have a tough guy. We have 23, and that's what we saw. That's what we're looking for with guys sticking up for each other." ... After defenseman Mike Vernace blundered in the first period and gave the puck away in the defensive zone to Lapierre, who scored Montreal's first goal, Vernace got just 58 seconds of ice time the rest of the period. But Boucher played him after that and Vernace had 18 shifts total. "He's a calm guy, and I know him, so I'm not surprised the rest of the game he was fine," Boucher said. "It does take a few minutes to get rid of that in your mind."