Tampa Bay Lightning power play sputters because of poor execution and rust
The Tampa Bay Lightning power play enters Saturday fifth in the league at 22.4 percent. But the Lightning for the first time this season hasn't scored a goal with the extra man for three straight games and is 0-for-8 in that stretch. Poor execution is the reason, coach Guy Boucher said. But with only eight power plays in the past three games, there also is a little rust.
"When you get more in a game you get adjusted to what the other team is doing," Boucher said. "You get timing. When you only get one, you feel like it's do-or-die."
Why only eight power plays the past three games? A difficult question to answer.
"It can't be just the refs not giving us," Boucher said. "It's the other team not wanting to give us a power play. When we play against a top-notch power play, that's the No. 1 thing in our game plan, stay out of the box."
Still, Boucher said, if the Lightning continues to struggle, perhaps its power play percentage will go down and other teams won't concentrate as much on staying out of the penalty box. After a pause, Boucher added, "I don't want our average to go down. I was joking."
Other stuff from the morning: Dwayne Roloson gets his third consecutive start in goal. How he plays will determine who starts Sunday in Newark. ... Boucher said defenseman Victor Hedman, who fell on his head during Friday's one-on-one drills with Mattias Ohlund, apparently is good to go, as is defenseman Randy Jones (neck/shoulder). ... Wing Sean Bergenheim will be out with a respiratory illness that has been bothering him for about three weeks, Boucher said, but has fluctuated in seriousness. It apparently got bad the past few days. ... The Lightning will have a little bit different look to its lines tonight. Right wing Steve Downie, still trying to regain his wind after missing 13 games with a high ankle sprain, will be back with center Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Boucher said he will monitor Downie to see how long he can keep him on that line. Ryan Malone will be with center Vinny Lecavalier and left wing Simon Gagne. ... Boucher said he still is undecided whether to go with seven defensemen, but it sounded as if he was leaning that way because Hedman's head injury and Jones' neck/shoulder thing are still fresh. ... A lot of respect from Boucher for Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, with whom he is friends. Boucher is even better friends with Lemaire's son Danyk, whom he met 20 years ago through their participation in Canadian college hockey. "A great family," Boucher said. "They're really good people. You'd never know they're Jacques Lemaire's children, they're so down to earth and so giving. Jacques is the same way. He's incredible. He'll sit down with you for five hours if you need help and explain something. And he's so bright. He has probably the best ability I've seen to take something complex and break it down to something simple." ... Boucher wants his players to treat this game as a "championship game." By that he means he wants his players to come out hard. Tampa Bay had Friday off while Ottawa played in Chicago, so the Lightning should be prepared and fresh while the Senators fight off some jet lag and tired legs.