Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Coach Rick Tocchet on Tampa Bay Lightning: 'I think we're close' to turnaround

TAMPA — Coach Rick Tocchet offered some optimism Tuesday, saying, with caveats, "I think we're close" to turning it around.

"You've got Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Ryan Malone, you go down the list, Paul Ranger coming back, (Mike) Smith. We've got pieces. It's not like a rebuilding and we're devastated. But the pieces we add are going to be crucial.

"We have good draft position. … I'm sure there are going to be some trades and free agent signing, so it can turn around pretty quickly."

GM Brian Lawton, in a fan forum, said adding defensive depth is a priority to a corps that, right now, likely will include Ranger, Andrej Meszaros, Matt Lashoff and Matt Smaby.

"We're going to be very active and aggressive on the blue line," he said.

He also wants to add a top-six forward. But Lawton said adding players is not enough.

"The attitude has to change around here, too," he said. "When you're losing you find ways to lose. When you lose, it's contagious. We have to stamp that out as soon as training camp comes."

MALONE OUT: Malone left Tuesday's game in the second period when an Evgeni Malkin slap shot broke his right hand. Malone, who bent low to block the shot, is the 10th Lightning player currently sidelined by injury.

"Every game you're waiting for something to happen," Tocchet said. "We'll probably have to call another guy up."

SMITTY NOT READY: Smith, out since Jan. 31 with a concussion, said he has "full confidence I'll be ready for training camp next year."

Still, the goaltender said he is "concerned the (healing) process is a lot slower than I hoped for."

Smith wanted to play a game or two before the end of the season, but said he can't seem to shake a fogginess that has kept him from bumping up his workouts from about 20 minutes on a stationary bike.

"I don't have any headache problems and that's why it's frustrating," Smith said. "It's just kind of a haze, you don't feel right. It's hard to describe. The real frustrating part is a lot of people got hit a lot harder than I got hit. Boxers are punched and knocked out and come back and play from it."

SHORT-HANDED: Tocchet said he wants C Steven Stamkos to be a regular penalty killer next season, so the rookie will see a lot of those situations in the season's final games.

"He's got quick hands. He's quick to get to the puck," Tocchet said. "He has to get better at his shot-blocking. If he's going to be a penalty killer, he's got to get in the lane to stop pucks."

"To prove you can play both ends of the ice is a unique situation," Stamkos said.

ODDS AND ENDS: RW Brandon Bochenski got his first Lightning point, an assist. … F Paul Szczechura, with a goal and an assist, got his second career two-point game. … Jeff Halpern got his first goals in 11 games. … Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby was minus-4. … Tocchet said G Karri Ramo will start against the Capitals in Thursday's home finale. Mike McKenna will start Saturday's season finale at Atlanta. … F Ryan Craig (upper body) and D Richard Petiot (shoulder) were scratched.

Coach Rick Tocchet on Tampa Bay Lightning: 'I think we're close' to turnaround 04/07/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 6:51am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. AP Top 25: USF stays ahead of UCF, but just barely


    USF remains ahead of UCF in the latest AP Top 25 poll - but just barely.

    Quinton Flowers and USF dropped one spot to No. 17 in the latest rankings.
  2. Lightning Strikes! podcast: Breaking down the Bolts' record start


    In this episode of our Lightning Strikes! podcast, we break down the Lightning's record 7-1-1 start. Why are Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos clicking so well? Why Mikhail Sergachev is likely here …

    Why are Steven Stamkos, pictured, and Nikita Kucherov clicking so well?
  3. My AP Top 25 ballot: UCF moves into the top 15, Michigan falls out


    No major changes in my latest AP Top 25 ballot.

  4. Winston playing, Alexander back as Bucs face Bills


    For the first time since the season opener, the Bucs are fully healthy in the starting lineup on both sides of the ball, with LB Kwon Alexander returning today against the Bills after missing four games with a hamstring injury.

    Bucs LB Kwon Alexander talks with coach Dirk Koetter before Tampa Bay's game against the Patriots. Alexander is back playing Sunday against the Bills after missing four games with a hamstring injury.
  5. Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 9


    Tampa Bay Tech Titans Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws a pass during the first half during the first half at Durant High School in Plant City on Friday, October 20, 2017.