Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Rays journal: Jake Odorizzi goes on 10-day DL with back strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jake Odorizzi is hoping his struggles this season can be tied directly to the lower-back strain he has tried to pitch through since spring training. Toward that end, the Rays placed Odorizzi on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to Tuesday.

    Rays center fielder Mallex Smith smiles after hitting a single advancing runners in the third inning. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Thursday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

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

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It is going to get interesting tonight when the Rays begin a four-game series against the Yankees in New York. The Rays feel they are good enough to win the East Division. These next four games and the four that follow in Houston will be a good measuring stick.