Tampa Bay Lightning's biggest Game 6 challenge is to better manage emotions, coach says
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher said the biggest challenge for his players in tonight's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Penguins is to better manage their emotions. Boucher said the team did not do a good job of that in the first two games at the St. Pete Times Forum, both losses.
He blamed his players' relative playoff inexperience and the fact that the team has gone so long without a playoff victory at home. The last time Tampa Bay won a playoff games at the Times Forum was April 16, 2007, against the Devils.
"They are very well aware there hasn't been a series won in this organization (since the 2004 Stanley Cup final)," Boucher said. "And fans are waiting for that big win in the playoffs, and everybody cared so much, probably too much and it took us away from our task. We want to make sure we come to the ice intense but mentally calm about what we want to do."
Steven Stamkos echoed that sentiment when he spoke of how players were running around in Game 1 trying to throw body checks. Not a bad strategy in the bigger picture, but he said it took the team out of its structure.
"We don't need to run around," Stamkos said. "We have to have that intensity but play smart."
Part of that process was having the team Sunday night stay in a hotel near the arena. Stamkos said it was to keep out any distractions and to make it feel more like a road game, where, again, teams generally play simpler and not to the crowd.
"That's what the coach wanted, to have that kind of mentality we had in those games," wing Sean Bergenheim said. "What they're looking for is we haven't had the best first periods. They wanted to change things up a little bit, so we're ready for the puck drop."
Other stuff from the morning: Interesting conversation with Dustin Tokarski, the Norfolk goalie who was called up with Mattias Ritola and Blair Jones when the Admirals season finished. Said he believes the technical part of his game is at the highest level it has been and his goal is to come to camp and give "110 percent" to try and make the team. Tokarski's candidacy for the backup role has gotten a boost with the continuing injury situation with Cedrick Desjardins, who was supposed to be the Lightning backup next season but is now battling doubts within the organization because of his injury. Tokarski said the skate-blade cut under his chin that required 27 stitches has healed nicely. He said he felt no pain when the injury occurred but when he put his hand to his neck and saw the blood, he got to the bench as quick as he could. "I asked them is it a little cut or is it bad?" Tokarski said. "Their eyes opened." Asked how close the skate came to clipping a vital artery or vein, Tokarski said, "I've heard it was within millimeters to within a quarter of an inch to being pretty bad by an artery." ... Boucher called Bergenheim during the playoffs "a warrior." Bergenheim has a goal and two points in five games, is tied for the team lead with 16 shots and is tied for third with 11 hits. "These games are so much fun to play," Bergenheim said of the playoffs. "Every single game you have to win. You would throw yourself head-first in front of a puck if you had to. I'm just enjoying it very much." ... Does this mean anything? In the past two Lightning games in which Eric Furlatt was a referee (Game 1 of the playoffs and the final regular-season game), 14 minor penalties were called on Tampa Bay compared to four for the opponent. "I'm aware of who the referees are always before the game starts," Boucher said. "When you make a game plan, you usually don't talk about the refs, and you want to control what you can control. It just means we have to be a lot more aware of what we're going to do during the game and make sure we don't get the same result."