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)

Frustrated Melrose uses RW Vrbata to make a point

TAMPA — Coach Barry Melrose was clear before Saturday's game with the Wild, he expects more from his best players.

To drive home the point, he scratched RW Radim Vrbata, who had zero points, six shots and zero hits in four games.

"Vrbata hasn't given us what we hoped," Melrose said. "The message has to start going to the guys: You have to give us what we want, or you're not going to be in the lineup."

David Koci made his first start of the season as a reward for his hard work, Melrose said, and, it would seem, to counter Minnesota enforcer Derek Boogaard. That Vrbata, one of the offseason's prime acquisitions and signed to a three-year, $9-million contract, was the fall guy was significant.

Not that he has been the only top forward struggling. RW Marty St. Louis has a goal but just five shots. LW Ryan Malone has a goal on just eight.

Even captain Vinny Lecavalier, coming off shoulder surgery and with a team-best two goals, is still trying to find his way.

"If you're a real goal scorer and not scoring, what else are you giving our team?" Melrose said, speaking generally. "They have to decide. If you're not scoring … you have to help the team in other ways."

A BAD EARLY RETURN: Koci's first shift ended with a holding penalty. Ten seconds after he got out of the box, he was called for interference. He had one other eight-second shift in the period and did not play again.

"Koci has to learn tough guys are marked men," Melrose said.

MALIK NEEDS WORK: D Marek Malik was not in Saturday's lineup and, according to Melrose, "is not in quite as good shape as we hoped he would be."

Malik, who still has not signed a contract, said he skated five or six times a week in his native Czech Republic. But as Melrose pointed out, "Skating every day isn't like pushing yourself every day. If you're skating by yourself, it's really tough to push yourself."

"Every day it's going to be better conditioning-wise and feeling more comfortable with the team," Malik said.

RAYS OF HOPE: Fs Marian Gaborik and Andrew Brunette picked the Rays in the Wild's team baseball pool and wore Rays caps in the locker room. Gaborik said he was confident Tampa Bay would beat Boston. "They have two games at home," he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: F Ryan Craig (groin) skated with the team and called it "a positive step forward." Melrose said Craig is "close." … Melrose said Wild C Mikko Koivu, who entered Saturday with a league-best nine points, "is one of the five best young players in the game." … F Jason Ward and D Jamie Heward were scratched.

Frustrated Melrose uses RW Vrbata to make a point 10/18/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 19, 2008 12:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  2. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  3. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again


    UPDATE, 6:36: Cash said the Rays will "be smart" in deciding whether to use Farquhar, Hunter and Colome tonight, so it could be a closing combo of the Blaze Brothers, Alvarado and Stanek, with Whitley another option. ... Cash said De Leon provides depth for tonight, and mentioned that some of the other relief …

  4. USF baseball heads to Gainesville for regional play


    TAMPA — Had USF's players and coaches been less confident in their NCAA Tournament resume, Monday's selection show might have induced fidgeting, perhaps even frustration.

    South Florida coach Mark Kingston looks on during 2017 American Athletic Conference game Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Clearwater during the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls won 7-6.
  5. Rays call up Jose De Leon to add depth to bullpen tonight


    The Rays decided that after playing 15 innings Sunday they could use some depth and length in their bullpen after all and are calling up RHP Jose De Leon from Triple-A.

    The Rays have recalled Jose De Leon from Triple-A Durham.