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With Steve Downie, search for Vinny Lecavalier's right wing comes full circle for Lightning



Remember when we started training camp and the talk was how the Lightning was going to give Steve Downie a chance to play right wing on Vinny Lecavalier's line with Alex Tanguay? That lasted one scrimmage. Experiments with Carter Ashton and Stephane Veilleux also were short lived.

So, Downie is back. He replaced Veilleux about midway through Wednesday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Coyotes in Loveland, Colo., and looked good doing it. His pass from his knees to Lecavalier, led to Lecavalier's first goal of the preseason and gave the Lightning a 3-2 lead for 34 seconds before Phoenix tied things up.

Downie could get another shot next to Lecavalier. Makes sense because the line really took a step up after Downie replaced Veilleux, who generally was invisible in his big shot on one of the top lines. Even that was strange as Veilleux was the player who sparked the line the last time he played with Lecavalier and Tanguay. Those two, by the way, seemed to be getting more familiar with each other and showed some real chemistry against the Coyotes.

Still, inconsistency at right wing on that line is baffling on a small scale. It also is part of a larger trend of inconsistent offense for the team which was outshot significantly for the third straight game, this time 29-18. For me, it's too much that the players are being too unselfish and are looking for the perfect play, rather than just getting pucks on net. They should take a lesson from the Coyotes. You never know what's going to happen.

Thirty-four seconds after Lecavalier gave Tampa Bay the third-period lead, Vernon Fiddler took what seemed an inoffensive shot at Lightning goalie Antero Niittymaki, who somehow could not hold the puck, leading to Scottie Upshall's tying goal.

But back to Downie. The kid has done everything the team has asked. He got himself in shape and he committed, at least in theory, to trying to keep his emotions under control. And instead of pouting after his first go-round with Lecavalier's line did not work out, he kept his head down and has another chance. Let's see if he can make the most of it.

[Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 12:15am]


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