Stamkos losing some power play time
Tough spot for coach Barry Melrose. He needs to get Radim Vrbata into the lineup to show he can do the job they are paying him $3-million a year to do (or to showcase him for a possible trade). But either way, he will be getting some more power play time and it likely will come at the expense of rookie Steven Stamkos, Melrose said.
"Yeah, numbers are numbers," Melrose said. "If Vrbey (my note: is that the correct spelling?) is going to play three or four power play then, yeah. Right now, the Recchi, Malone, Jokinen line is our best power play, so I'm not going to break that up. So if Vrbata goes in, someone gets hurt and it's Steven right now. But we got to get Vrbey going. He's a guy we expect a lot out of offensively, and we need him to start putting the puck in the net for us."
That's a real tough situation for Melrose. We have seen Stamkos getting better as he received more ice time. Even in the Flyers game the other night, he didn't score but his speed created several opportunities. Stamkos is averaging 12:02 of ice time. Melrose has said he wants to see him between 12 and 15 minutes.
Melrose said it is frustrating.
"It is," he said. "We need both of them. We're having trouble scoring and those are two guys we're counting on to score. maybe get one of them going at a time and we'll go from there. But we need Vrbey going. He's a veteran. he's proved he can score in the NHL. We need him to start putting the puck in the net for us."
Vrbata needs to be putting the puck in the net period. Going back to last season, when he failed to score in his last 22 games, Vrbata has zero goals in his past 29.
Other stuff: Olaf Kolzig, as we said, gets the start in net. Interesting that Melrose said he gave Kolzig the option to play. "I know some goalies would rather not play this game. I said that would be no problem. I would just tell the press that I didn't want you to play this game. He said, 'Nope, I want to play this game. I've wanted to play this game since I left.' So it was a slam dunk." ... Defenseman Steve Eminger will get a look on the first power play unit. ... Melrose said right wing Evgeny Artyukhin (groin) is better but still too sore to play tonight. The lineup (other than Kolzig will remain the same). ... Right wing Gary Roberts said getting is first point of the season against the Flyers "really took a load off." ... And on the seventh day of the road trip, we have our first day of sunshine.