Tocchet challenges Artyukhin to be better
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet called right wing Evgeny Artyukhin "the most frustrating player to have this year."
The problem: Tocchet said Artyukhin has not put himself in the scoring areas where he can be most productive.
"He should have some tip-in goals around the net or chances every game," Tocchet said after it was mentioned how much he was working with Artyukhin today on one-timers, which Artyukhin was not doing very well. "But he shoots the puck straight-legged. If he could get a wide base and learn how to bend his knees, he can shoot the puck better and also get tip some pucks for us."
Tocchet said Artyukhin's two seasons in Russia did not help. "They take the puck back. It's kind of that soccer mentality. He has to be an A and B type player, go to the net. That job is still open for us. We need a guy like that."
Artyukhin has a career-best five goals and 13 points in 55 games.
"He's a great kid, but his learning curve has to be quicker," Tocchet said. "He's had a full season here, the trade deadline is past, he's got nothing to worry about. We need him to get going this year quickly. I can't put it any more bluntly with a guy like him. He's got 18 games to get it here."
Other stuff from this morning: Left wing Gary Roberts was not at the morning skate, increasing speculation he likely will retire. GM Brian Lawton said today on XM Radio that Roberts asked for a few days off to "think about things. We'll talk in a few days and go from there." ... Forward Brandon Segal spent Wednesday night in Norfolk after being sent down after Tuesday's game with the Penguins, but was called right back up again and is scheduled to play tonight against the Blues. It's been a long road for Segal, 25, who has spent six years in the minors before getting his crack at the NHL. "This is huge," Segal said. "I'm going to take full advantage of it." ... Segal, who wore No. 26 at Norfolk, whore No. 36 Tuesday and now has No. 53. ... Karri Ramo is scheduled to be in net. ... Goalie Mike McKenna, a St. Louis native and a huge Blues fan growing up, said he is disappointed he is not playing tonight. Then again, he said, "As a goalie, you're always disappointed you're not playing. If you're not, something is probably wrong with you." Even so, he added, It's still cool to look over and see the blue note over there." ... With Steve Eminger, who averaged 23:33 of ice time, off to the Panthers, the remaining Lightning blue liners have plenty of minutes to make up. Joked Tocchet: " Everybody gets two minutes more, I guess." Seriously, though, he said, "We're looking for players to elevate their games." ... Newly acquired wing Martins Karsums will start tonight on a line with center Vinny Lecavalier and Vinny Prospal. "Obviously, two unbelievable players," Karsums said. "A great opportunity." ... Left wing Ryan Malone (flu) will not play. F Paul Szczechura (wrist) is a game-time decision, Tocchet said.