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Hot-seat temperature check for Lightning's Boucher

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he cannot and does not concern himself with questions about his job security.

"I'm paid to do my job, and that's what I do," he said. "The rest, I don't control."

But in a way he does. Boucher said as much as Tampa Bay prepared for Saturday-Sunday games with the Senators and Jets this weekend that had the potential to create a legitimate playoff push or, if they went badly, spark even more speculation Boucher might lose his job despite a year remaining on his contract.

"Urgency," he said when asked about his primary responsibility this weekend. "We've got to create urgency."

But in Saturday's first period, there was chaos as the Lightning unraveled and the Senators scored four goals and hung on for a 5-3 victory.

This is no small point. The Lightning also showed little urgency in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs, surprising because the team had won three of its previous four games and seemed to be building some momentum.

Yet, Tampa Bay played poorly against Toronto and was dreadful on the power play, with no shots in four tries. Boucher said players had "no legs," which will happen from time to time, but players also said they were not prepared to play.

How much of that falls on a coach? Ask Boucher.

"My job is I have to prepare them," he said before Friday's practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. "Where is my frame of mind? Am I down? Am I still back at the last game, or is this a new day? That's my job. I just want to make sure I choose the right things to do and the right things to say, because I know they care. If they don't care, you see that."

The Lightning is on a 7-16-1 skid after a 6-1-0 start and looks certain to miss the playoffs for a second straight season, though to be fair, this year would be difficult for any coach.

Tampa Bay's goaltending has not been what was expected. The defense, though improved, still has issues, mainly a lack of speed. The roster this week, when defenseman Andrej Sustr shows up, will have eight rookies. Injuries all at once to Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Malone and Ben Pouliot have been difficult to manage.

But one thing we always could say about the Lightning was it worked hard and showed urgency, even when down.

It displayed none of that against the Maple Leafs. That's why this weekend's games are so important, for the team and the coach.

Hot-seat temperature check for Lightning's Boucher 03/23/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 23, 2013 9:30pm]
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