Tampa Bay Lightning star Stven Stamkos is a diver, according to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau
Chalk this one up under the category of a coach trying to gain an edge for his team by planting a seed in the head of the opposition and the referees. How else to explain Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau saying Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos dives to draw penalties? Boudreau also mentions right wing Steve Downie, who will not even play tonight because of an ankle injury. It was the inclusion of Stamkos that was most surprising.
Here is what Boudreau said Monday morning after an innocent question about the emotional level going up in games between the Lightning and Capitals. A decent question, asked by a reporter from the Washington Post, considering tonight's game is for first place in the Southeast division and the Lightning has beaten Washington, the three-time division champ, twice by shutouts.
"Quite frankly I think from the beginning we didn’t know what to expect the first couple of games," Boudreau said. "Once they took the lead on us and then they beat us 1-0 and then they beat us 3-0, it sort of, you know, started to say, 'Hey we don’t like these guys. We don’t like the way they dive every two seconds. They lead the league in power play attempts because guys like Downie, even though he might not be playing tonight, but if I was a referee I’d never make a call on him ever. He dives every two seconds, Stamkos dives every two seconds. So you start to get a hate on for guys like that. So, it’ll be interesting."
He's right about one thing, the Lightning enters Monday with a league-high 271 power-play chances, compared to 219 for the Capitals. But Stamkos a diver?
"I don't even know what to say to that," Stamkos said. "I don't know if he's trying to use that to get us thinking about other things. I'm not really worried about what he has to say."
Neither was Lightning coach Guy Boucher, who sent a little dig back Boudreau's way.
"I have more respect for the players to say their players or our players are divers," Boucher said.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Stamkos, who leads the league with 41 goals but has just one in his past 11 games, will play right wing tonight with center Dominic Moore and left wing Marty St. Louis. Boucher said the move helps both wings(both minus-6 in their past six games) defensively. It also takes some of the faceoff pressure off Stamkos. "Just knowing you have a player like that on your line takes a little of an edge off. I wouldn't say responsibility, but you know he's going to be there. He's been our best player the past few weeks, so maybe we can get something going." Boucher said moving Stamkos also "takes some pressure off and trims down some stuff you want him to focus on, and you go." ... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. ... Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron (back spasms), who played just 9:19 Tuesday against the Canadiens, is almost certainly out of tonight's game, and admitted he probably should not have played against Montreal. Making matters worse, he said he really wanted to do well against the Canadiens, who declined to re-sign him during the summer after his knee surgery. "The way I played, it wasn't great," Bergeron said. "It wasn't what I wished for." ... Others out tonight are right wing Steve Downie (ankle and something else lower body as well), wing Ryan Malone (stomach Muscle), who actually skated with pads Monday before his teammates, and defenseman Mike Lundin (abdomen), who could play as soon as Friday, Boucher said. ... We should point out the Lightning has another player who has fallen off the scoring radar: Simon Gagne, who has one goal in his past 14 games. Gagne said he never would have predicted he would have only 10 goals after 47 games (remember he was injured). "I can't do anything about what happened in the past," Gagne said. "The only thing you can control is what is in front of me, and finish strong and have a good playoff. I have to focus on what's left in front of me, and whatever happened behind me was not what I was looking for." ... Forward Mattias Ritola said he has not had an attack of Meniere's disease since he was sent down to AHL Norfolk in mid February. He said the hearing aid he is wearing in his right ear has so improved his hearing it has relieved a lot of stress, which could trigger an attack. But he also said, "You learn to live with it. You take it away from your mind."