Tocchet seethes, wants team to compete
What is so interesting about listening to coach Rick Tocchet is that he, unlike John Tortorella, doesn't let his emotions run away with him when he talks with reporters after a game, even when he is so obviously angry.
It was like that Sunday night after Tampa Bay fell in about as listless an effort as could be 3-0 to the Senators. But it wasn't so much the loss that bugged the coach as Tampa Bay's inability to generate outrage at a Senators team Tocchet said was challenging the Lightning physically.
"I'm just from the old school. When you get pushed around, you have to push back," Tocchet said. "We're accepting when guys on the other team are agitating and making a push. We need guys to push back. I'm not talking about dropping the gloves, just playing good, clean, tough hockey. Be abrasive. We need abrasive players on this team. We need guys lively on the bench, not just sitting there."
It was all very evened and measured. But Tocchet showed his anger when he argued with referee Brian Pochmara late in the game after Lightning forward Ryan Craig was given two minutes for cross-checking Ottawa agitator Jarkko Ruutu across the chest and breaking his stick in the process. Ruutu got nothing despite going to his knees to avoid Craig's check and sliding into Craig's knees, both of which had surgeries.
"I just thought it was not professional," Tocchet said. "I have a suit on, I can't do anything about it. I wish I didn't have a suit on."
One thing is sure, he said, "This is our building. This is not going to happen next year. We're going to make sure we play smart, tough hockey."
What do you think? Do you like the sentiment? Look, it's tough playing this time of year. The team is out of the playoffs. It's played meaningless games for about a quarter of the season. It must be hard to find the "on" switch.
But as Tocchet said, "If you can't give emotion for 60 minutes, you've got a problem."
Other game notes: Goalie Karri Ramo said after the game he had some neck pain from getting run over by Ottawa's Nick Foligno. ... Tampa Bay called up right wing Brandon Bochenski from AHL Norfolk in response to Matt Smaby's lower-body injury. Why not call up another defensemen? Because the Lightning wanted a look at Bochenski, who had 27 goals, 53 points in 69 games for the Admirals. Left wing David Koci wasthe sixth defenseman. ... Bochenski is the 49th player to suit up for the Lightning. The team record is 53 set in 1999-2000. ... GM Brian Lawton and Oren Koules spent about an hour answering questions from several hundredformer season-ticket holders, who were invited to the event. Most interesting to me was Lawton saying he didn't do Tocchet any favors with the interim label, though his intentions were good as he was trying to take some pressure off the coach when he took over from Barry Melrose. Anyway, if anyone was at the event, feel free to post your impressions.