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)

Guy Boucher wants to cure Tampa Bay Lightning breakdowns

TAMPA — The Lightning this season has allowed a league-worst 13 shorthanded goals and has been outscored 78-52 in the third period.

At root, they are different problems. Allowing shorthanded goals primarily is about individual breakdowns. Being outscored at crunch time is a collective issue.

The result is the same: Tampa Bay players and coaches are desperate to find solutions.

The consequences of not fixing the problems are tangible.

The Lightning has lost 16 games (six in regulation, 10 in overtime or shootouts) when leading or tied after two periods. Only six teams have lost more.

It is 5-3-4 in games in which it allowed shorthanded goals. Add the four points left on the table in overtime and shootout losses and Tampa Bay would be one point behind the first-place Capitals in the Southeast Division.

"It's identifying danger," wing Marty St. Louis said of allowing shorthanded goals. "Sometimes it's just the bounce of the puck. We think it's going to bounce the right way. Sometimes it doesn't and ends up on their stick and goes the other way. We could have read the danger before and been back and killed it."

Saturday against the Senators, defenseman Victor Hedman was caught napping and Ryan Shannon blew past him on his way to a shorthanded breakaway goal.

Two nights before, St. Louis fumbled a puck at the blue line and Montreal's Brian Gionta scored on a shorthanded breakaway.

Those are not structural breakdowns, so coach Guy Boucher said he is in no hurry to change his system.

"I'm not going to put five guys back on the power play," he said. "And if I tell the players I don't want to get scored on on the power play, that feeds into the attitude of being scared."

Third-period deficiencies are more complicated.

Some of it comes from players who, as Boucher said, "are lacking a bit of confidence because they haven't won lately. … When you're nervous about the result, the process goes down the drain. When you're tentative, you give the other team time and space."

How do you fix that? "It's an attitude that has to be built up," Boucher said. "This team hasn't made the playoffs in the last three years. That's part of it. It's not just one year isolated from that context the year goes in."

The team is in a prolonged scoring slump with more than three goals in just three of 16 games. Get a few more here and there, Boucher said, and some late-game pressure is relieved.

The coach wants his players to take shorter shifts, no more than 40 seconds, to be fresher late in games.

And starting tonight against the Islanders at the St. Pete Times Forum, Boucher said, the team will look at third periods as four five-minute games.

"If you're leading, you see it as 20 minutes you have to get through," Boucher said. "That's a long time to be steady in what you need to do."

We saw Saturday against Ottawa what the team should not do. Leading 2-0 with eight minutes left, it gave up a shorthanded goal, gave up another goal that sent the game into overtime and lost in the extra period.

"We have to stick to the fine details in the third period, especially when we have leads," defenseman Brett Clark said.

"We have to learn," he added, "how to close out games."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at


Lightning vs. Islanders

When/where: 7:30; St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: The Lightning is on a 2-4-4 streak. … C Vinny Lecavalier has three goals, four points in his past four games. … Islanders C Frans Nielsen is tied for the league lead with five shorthanded goals. … New York has league bests of 1,248 blocked shots and 762 takeaways. … Tampa Bay has killed 10 of 11 penalties this season against New York. … The Islanders are tied for the league lead with seven games lost in regulation or overtime when leading after two periods.

Guy Boucher wants to cure Tampa Bay Lightning breakdowns 03/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, March 21, 2011 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.
  3. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  4. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  5. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

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

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.