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)

Facing first big adversity, Tampa Bay Lightning fights negativity

TAMPA — The spin during the Lightning's team meeting Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum went like this:

Had someone told players before the season that after 66 games they would be two points behind the first-place Capitals in the Southeast Division and four points behind the Flyers for first in the Eastern Conference (pending Tuesday night's games), they would have taken it, right?

"Well," coach Guy Boucher said, "that's what we've got."

But Tampa Bay also has angst. For the first time this season, it faces real adversity.

It is on its first four-game losing streak (0-3-1) and is 3-4-3 in its past 10 games while scoring one or two goals eight times. Center Steven Stamkos has a league-best 41 goals but only one in his past 12 games. Simon Gagne has one goal in 15 games. Marty St. Louis has one assist in four games, and Teddy Purcell hasn't scored in six.

Defenseman Mike Lundin, out 13 games with what is believed to be an abdominal injury, might return tonight against the Blackhawks. But at least three players will be out: wings Steve Downie (ankle) and Ryan Malone (stomach), and defenseman Randy Jones, who sustained a high ankle sprain late in Monday's 2-1 shootout loss to Washington.

It's enough to turn even the most optimistic soul into a Gloomy Gus. Hence Tuesday's meeting and focus on the big picture.

"The question of perception is very important so we don't sink with our attitude," Boucher said. "We have to fight negativity right now with our enthusiasm. It's important not just to say it but to do it. So (Tuesday) we went on the ice with big smiles on our faces. We're in a great spot, fighting for something we wanted to fight for all year long."

The way Boucher sees it, the team hasn't played poorly during its losing streak, its only bad period being the first Saturday against the Canadiens in which it fell behind 2-0 in a 4-2 loss. The team hasn't allowed 30 shots on goal in regulation since Feb. 17 against the Red Wings. It just can't score.

"Poise with the puck around the net, that's what we have to work on right now," Boucher said. "Not working harder; we're working as hard as we can. We're banging. We just have to finish."

Instead of working set plays Tuesday, drills were about skill. "We worked on having that confidence in our offensive ability," Stamkos said.

Defenseman Eric Brewer espoused "a lot of dialogue" on the bench and in the locker room. Defenseman Mattias Ohlund said acknowledging "there are things we need to improve shouldn't be the end of the road."

All that was secondary to the work Boucher, with a psychology degree, did on his players' psyche during the meeting. It seemed to take hold. Goaltender Dwayne Roloson even said the team may one day "consider this a turning point for our season. … There's adversity throughout a season all the time. Any time you face it, it makes you stronger. Keep playing the way we're playing. It will turn."

But it has to turn now, St. Louis said. "One bad week is enough. At this time of year, you can't sustain two bad weeks and be where you want to be."

Facing first big adversity, Tampa Bay Lightning fights negativity 03/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 10:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Ugly first inning dooms Andriese, Rays against Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a point of saying before Thursday's game that RHP Matt Andriese was among the pitchers who would most benefit from a strong finish to the season.

    Matt Andriese has a tough first: hits to four of first five batters, leading to three runs, the only ones he gives up in six innings
  2. USF journal: Record night for QB Quinton Flowers


    TAMPA — They've pulled it off with offensive fizz and defensive flatness, and vice versa. They've achieved it on North Dale Mabry and neutral sites. They've attained it sloppily and convincingly.

    Bulls wide receiver Tyre McCants finds a holes in the Temple defense for a 24-yard reception during the first half at Raymond James Stadium.
  3. Joey Knight's takeaways from Thursday's USF-Temple game


    Even when they do catch a break, the Bulls' beleaguered special teams can't hold on to it. After having four kicks blocked in their first three games, USF managed a positive special teams play in the first quarter when Kano Dillon got a piece of an Alex Starzyk punt. But redshirt freshman Craig Watts fumbled the …

  4. Vikings coach feels better about QB Bradford playing vs. Bucs


    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford moved with a little more bounce in his step during the 15 opening minutes of Thursday's practice before reporters were booted.

  5. Rays at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. Friday, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Orioles

    7:05, Camden Yards, Baltimore

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Alex Cobb (11-10, 3.63)

    ORIOLES: RH Ubaldo Jimenez (6-10, 6.57)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)