Tocchet issues a warning
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was adamant this morning that he wants to see better intensity and grit from his players, especially in the form of going to the net, or playing time will be lost and benchings may occur. Tocchet originally spoke about the power play and how he might start changing personnel, but later said his edict was for the entire team.
"This is for everybody," Tocchet said. "If the results aren't there, there has to be a time for the coach, I don't care who it is, you're not going to play. I don't know if we're at that time yet, but it's getting close. We're going to have to get a little bit of urgency. We thought we had taken some baby steps, but then Jersey happened."
"Jersey" was the awful 7-3 loss on Sunday in which Tampa Bay did not compete.
"Is Jersey a once a month thing that happens or is it something that we have problems and have to start getting rid of people?" Tocchet said.
Get rid of people?
"That's what it's going to come down to if we don't start to learn how to play and play grittier," Tocchet said.
"Here's the thing as a coach," he added. "My philosophy as a coach is, you give a guy a warning. You bring him in and let him out there again, let him try to make up for his mistake or lack of effort. The second time, you have to stick him in the stands and not play his as much. Probably the third or fourth time, it's time to get the guy out of here.
"I look at our team, I don't see guys in the room don't care, but I don't want all takers on this team. I want givers. So, if you're not going to give, it's going to be a little miserable around here, and that's how it's got to be. I don't know if we are at that point yet, but there has to be something that's flushed. If that stench is around here, you have to get rid of it. I'm not trying to be negative, but the time is now."
As for tonight's game with the Rangers, Tocchet said, "The light bulb better be on."
Other stuff: Mike Smith will start in goal after undergoing a minor procedure to cap off a nerve ending in his abdomen that was irritated from, Smith said, sports hernia surgery four years ago. The nerve, which was cut during that surgery, apparently was trying to grow back and was causing pain. Smith said the procedure was so minor and so near the skin, it will not cause any irritation when he moves. Said Tocchet, "He's ready to rock." ... Wing Matt Pettinger, who hurt his right knee during Tuesday's practice when he hit a rut in the ice, was walking stiff-legged today and Tocchet said will undergo an MRI. ... Defenseman Lukas Krajicek (left knee) will play tonight. ... Wing David Koci will play on a line with center Ryan Craig and Adam Hall. He said he has no plans to take two minor penalties in 10 seconds as he did Oct. 18 against the Wild. It also pretty much ensures Ryan Malone wil not have to fight Aaron Voros fora third time this season. ... Both center Chris Gratton (knee) and wing Gary Roberts (upper body) skated this morning but will not play. ... Associate coach Mike Sullivan will spend the game in the press box. "He didn't want to be a distraction," Tocchet said, adding Sullivan, hired Tuesday, has not even been part of a practice. "We'll get Sully jumping in with both feet tomorrow."