St. Louis made a statement, backed it up
It's time to recognize Marty St. Louis for not only picking up his game, but understanding the responsibility he has to the team, especially after calling out his teammates after a Dec. 20 loss at Atlanta. You recall that, of course; a terrible 4-3 loss and St. Louis saying there weren't enough players in the locker room who cared about winning. "Clock killers," he called them.
You can't say something like that and then fade into the woodwork, and St. Louis hasn't. In fact, he leads the league with 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) since Dec. 27. Funny, isn't it, that since Dec. 27, Tampa Bay is 8-5-1.
"If somebody is going to say stuff like that out of emotion after a loss, you have to make sure I was working as hard as I could. You can't hide after you say those things."
Said coach Rick Tocchet of St. Louis' outburst: "It was needed. He shook some people up. we needed to rattle some cages. Marty has definitely backed it up."
Vinny Lecavalier is second with 17 points. The captain has a busy weekend ahead of him as he goes home to Montreal to play in the All-Star Game. He said he knows he is going to face tons of questions about the trade rumors.
"It's going to be pretty crazy," he said.
Lecavalier said he will address the issue during his media availability, but won't speak about it again.
"It will be the same thing we did here," he said. "I'll talk about it for one day. You can't say the same thing every day. I'll address it over there. Whatever questions they want to ask me, I'll answer, and after that it's over."
Lecavalier, 28, said he understands the fascination in Montreal of having a French-Canadian star play for the Canadiens. Not only is Lecavalier French-Canadian, he's a Montreal native, from the suburb of Ile Bizard.
"People, they want a French-Canadian no doubt about it," Lecavalier said. "They talk about it every summer when free agency comes. People are fascinated by it."
Other stuff from this morning: Mike Smith gets the start in what is a huge game for a team trying to set itself up for a playoff run after the All-Star break. Playoffs? You're talking to me about playoffs? It's not out of the question yet, though the Lightning is going to have to pour it on. The team entered Wednesday 11 points out of the final playoff spot, with two games in hand on No. 8 Carolina. At 12th in the league, the Lightning only has four teams to leapfrog as opposed to six not long ago. Beating the seventh-place Sabres would be a nice statement. "This is a game where you train your mind it's a playoff game," Tocchet said. "You have three or four days off, so there's nothing to save it for. It has to be flying on every shift. You have four days to recover." ... As for exchanging Kevin Quick for Ty Wishart on defense, Tocchet said it was simply a way to get more size into the lineup. Quick played well, but Wishart is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. Quick is listed as 6-foot, 175. "We're looking for a bigger body," said Tocchet, who added the Lightning could have used it on Monday to break the Stars' cycles. "A guy with body position, clearing the front of the net, it's something we're really stressing." ... Tocchet said he liked the "patience with the puck" brought by waiver acquisition Cory Murphy. "He sees our blue line is a little thin. Maybe he can fill a role for us?" Tocchet said. ... Defenseman Steve Eminger also has shined recently. "There were two plays against Dallas, he took two big hits and kept the puck and got it to our center man to get it out," Tocchet said. "That's the detail stuff we're looking for." ... How big is the All-Star break for a banged-up team? "It's huge for us," Tocchet said. "For our D, we need it big-time." ... And just FYI, the Lightning girls will be signing their calandar from 8-10 p.m. Thursday at The Venue, 2675 Ulmerton Road, St. Petersburg.