Recchi is unhappy; Smith decision next?
Pretty interesting discussion today with coach Rick Tocchet, who said he is scratching veteran Mark Recchi for tonight's game with the Hurricanes. Nothing much going on, Tocchet said, except he wants to give Recchi a break in the second game of back-to-backs.
"He could probably play," Tocchet said. "There's nothing really wrong. It's more body maintenance than anything. Here was a guy who was supposed to play 60 games for us. he's played every game, averaging 18 minutes. For the good of him, I'd like to see him get a rest."
To which Recchi answered, "I always played better in the second game of back-to-backs, anyway."
Recchi, who has played 58 straight games, didn't say much more, but he obviously did not agree with Tocchet's assessment and wants to play.
Recchi, averaging 16:52 of ice time, but consistently more under Tocchet, has 12 goals and is third on the team with 25 assists and 37 points. Yes, he is minus-18 and occasionally makes ill-advised passes. But the plusses far outweigh the minuses.
Recchi, who it would seem is a good candidate to be traded by the March 4 deadline because of the value he could bring, said he was not told he was sitting out because anything is brewing in that area.
Other stuff from this morning: Tocchet said it is getting closer to a time the team must decide whether to shut down goaltender Mike Smith (concussion). Tocchet said the discussion likely will happen sooner rather than later. At issue: is it worth the risk to bring Smith back considering Tampa Bay is out of the playoff race, or is it better to let him fully heal and be ready for next season? Also a consideration: it might be good for Smith to get a few games under his belt heading into the offseason to get things moving in the right direction. It is a difficult equation. "If you have a knee problem or shoulder, you can kind of see in the sense of, 'Let's get surgery. Let's give it two weeks.' I don't know with concussions," Tocchet said. "It's up to Mike, and how he feels. It's a subjective thing for him." ... Mike McKenna gets the start in goal tonight. Tocchet said McKenna has to cut down on soft goals. "You can't for one second lose your focus, even if it's a shot from the half wall," Tocchet said. "That's what separates someone who can play in the NHL and someone who can't. He's definitey a guy who has a shot to be a backup goalie in this league. He has his chance now." ... Left wing Gary Roberts is in the lineup after a day off for "maintenance." ... Left wing David Koci and defenseman Marek Malik (ankle) also are scratched. ... How much pain is defenseman Matt Smaby playing with? "I'm sure he wears slippers during the day," Tocchet said, referencing Smaby's sore right foot. ... Tocchet said he wants the Lightning to be better at blocking shots. "If you take away the shooting lanes, it makes you a better defensive team," he said. "That's one of the mandates for me. We have to get better at that." ... The Lightning has outscored opponents 55-49 in the first period and has been outscored 57-37 in the third. ... Center Jeff Halpern has zero points in his past 11 games. Halpern, who returned in December from reconstructive knee surgery, said it is "frustrating," but Tocchet said he is not worried: "He's trying to find his legs. He's out there trying as hard as anybody. He's amazing. He's a good hockey player. I enjoy coaching a guy like that. He'll get his knee stronger. He'll be fine."