Tampa Bay Lightning coach Rick Tocchet on tonight's game: "Enough is enough"
Isn't it about time the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Capitals? Tampa Bay has lost 12 straight in the series (0-11-1) and has been outscored 50-24 in the process. Tampa Bay's last victory was Nov. 16, 2007 at the St. Pete Times Forum. Asked about the streak after Tuesday's morning skate, Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said it is time for his players to answer the bell.
"They’ve owned us," Tocchet said. "You’re really looking for your players to make a stand. It’s starting to get to a point, I don’t like to use the word embarrassing, but enough is enough. Let’s make a stand here. What have we lost 12 in a row? It’s coming to a point where you’re looking for your players to say, 'Enough is enough.' "
The Lightning also is coming into the game in a bit of an offensive funk despite the weekend's 4-2 victory over the East-leading Devils. Tampa Bay has just 32 shots on goal the past two games. And the power play has scored goals in just six of the past 20 games and operated in that stretch at 12.8 percent (10-for-78). It is worse in the past eight games as the team is 3-for-28 (10.7 percent). And in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers Saturday, the team had 14 shots blocked.
First Tocchet addressed getting shots to the net: "Moving your feet. When you get your shots blocked, usually it’s a guy who gets it, he’s waiting to set up and he’s not moving his feet. If you get it you should be anticipating somewhere to shoot it on the ice as soon as you can. Once a guy gets out to you and you have your feet still, you have a better chance to get your shots blocked."
Then he addressed the lack of shots in general: "You can look at any facet of the game, how you get shots; coming out of your end clean, playing good neutral zone and forecheck. I think our forecheck has been very sub-par the last three or four games, very discombobulated. There are things we have to get better at, two-on-two battles, we have to come up with those pucks. We've got to come up with seven or eight out of 10. We can't come up with two or three. If you come up with those battles, you’ll come up with shots. We’re getting some guys who are playing a lot of minutes who aren’t getting shots, and that’s an alarming thing. It’s reality. We need guys to shoot the puck, and we need traffic."
Just as an aside, Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay have one shot on goal each the past two games. Ryan Malone and Marty St. Louis have two each.
Finally, Tocchet addressed the power play: "There are plays there, 12 foot passes that aren’t being made. This is not system stuff. This is execution. Adam (assistant coach Oates) can give you the blueprint, but you have to execute, and we’re having a hard time executing this stuff. If they’re playing high in the box, get it down low and take it to the net. If they’re playing low, get it to the point and shoot it. It’s pretty simple. We’re really struggling on that. That’s why we’re .500 right now. A consistent team that wins needs to be team that does things consistently well, not two games on, four games off."
A few words about Steven Stamkos:
The second-year center tied last season's 23 goals in his 43rd game, which is 36 games quicker than last season. With 44 points, he is just three behind last season's total.
"There are things I’m expected to do as far as producing offense nightly, and I put pressure on myself to do that," Stamkos said. "Ultimately, your role on the team is to produce offense. Yeah, it’s nice to tie the production of goals that I had last year, but it’s something that’s not really in my thought process."
So, let's go back to Tocchet: "All I know is I like the way he puts himself into position and the way he shoots the puck. A lot of our players can learn a lot from him the way he snaps the puck and gets into position. Very rarely will you see when he’s in the slot that he takes a slap shot. He gets his shot away as quick as anybody. If you look at the best players, all the goal scorer, he has the same attribute as those guys. He gets the puck away so quick. That’s why he’s scoring goals."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Mike Smith gets the start in goal. ... With center Blair Jones back with Norfolk, center Jeff Halpern is back in the lineup. ... Defenseman Andrej Meszaros also is expected to be back after being scratched for a game. ... Right wing Brandon Bochenski knew he was on the bubble with the Lightning having Halpern and left wing Todd Fedoruk (right knee) on injured reserve. His power play goal in the weekend's win over the Devils, and his offensive upside, helped keep him on the team, for now. "It's given me a little bit more confidence but you're only as good as your last game. It will definitely make me more confident and comfortable, but I have to keep doing what I'm doing. If I sop doing what I'm doing, it's not going to matter." ... Capitals Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin on the big brawl in Russia's KHL in which Avangard Omsk and Vityaz combined for 691 penalty minutes. Less than four minutes into the game, there were not enough eligible players, so the game was called. "I heard about it and I saw it," Ovechkin said. "I think we love to play and have a lot of tough guys." That is not it at all, Jaromir Jagr, who plays for Omsk, told reporters in Russia. About Canadian Darcy Verot, who apparently shot a puck at one of Jagr's teammates in warmups to start the whole mess, Jagr said, "I don't even know what to call this person. I played with Sean Avery when I was with the New York Rangers. A lot was said about him. But he was an ordinary tough guy. He followed the code. As for Verot, he doesn't even know what this code is." ... Anyway, back to the Lightning. Fedoruk skated hard today, but he is still on IR and said he is not ready to play. "I can push my own weight around. It's pushing other people around that's the thing," he said. "But I'm getting really close."