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)

Lightning hopes to improve power play

ESTERO — The puck moved as if laser-guided from blue line to faceoff circle, across the ice, to the slot and into the net.

Bang, bang, bang, three quick passes from Sami Salo to Steven Stamkos to Marty St. Louis to Teddy Purcell.

"That's the way it should be," Stamkos said of the Lightning power play. "We should be able to make quick plays."

"We know we have the personnel to have a top-five power play in the league. We're not going to accept anything less."

And yet there is this: Despite powerful offensive forces such as Stamkos, St. Louis, Purcell, Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay's power play last season ranked 25th in the 30-team league at 15.2 percent.

Lecavalier believes it might have cost the team up to 10 points last season, when it missed the playoffs by eight.

With that in mind, the Lightning on Wednesday at Germain Arena worked for 40 minutes on a revamped power play that added play-making defensemen Salo and Matt Carle and used four forwards — Stamkos, St. Louis, Purcell and Malone — on the first unit in a looser system more dependent on player savvy than rigid structure.

"We tried to dumb it down a little bit and let guys read off their creativity," Stamkos said. "It worked really well."

There were plenty of reasons the power play floundered most of last season.

Without a true quarterback, it sometimes had trouble simply entering and setting up in the offensive zone.

Tampa Bay also lacked a right-handed shot from the blue line, which limited shooting and passing angles.

Finally, the Lightning might simply have been too structured.

"We were trying to come up with so many different plays other than making the reads," Stamkos added.

The result: a power play with just four goals combined in five-on-three and four-on-three situations compared to 16 in 2010-11, when the power play was sixth in the league at 20.8 percent.

"It was hard to take," coach Guy Boucher said.

"But that's okay. In years when you are humbled, it makes you realize what your weaknesses and strengths are. Right now, we're in a good spot to attack the year."

Steve Thomas, the Lightning's player development coach who scored 106 of his 421 NHL goals on the power play, is lending expertise.

Though Boucher calls the power play "my baby," he said he welcomes the input.

"The players trust him," Bou­cher said. "I trust him."

Then there are Salo and Carle, who practiced on the No. 1 and 2 units, respectively.

"Just terrific passers and terrific vision," Boucher said.

On the day's best goal, Salo, whose big right-handed shot has helped him to 55 power-play goals during his 13-year career, passed from the blue line to Stamkos at the left faceoff circle. Stamkos' cross-ice feed went to St. Louis, who found Purcell in the slot for the goal.

"They're going to bring a lot of poise," Lecavalier said of Salo and Carle. "They're going to make that first pass that's going to make the entry easier. Just to get those guys to slow everything down and keep it in the zone, they're huge to the power play."

"Hopefully," Purcell said, "it's going to win a lot of games."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

Lightning hopes to improve power play 01/16/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 12:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, 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' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  2. Luke Del Rio regains UF starting job, for now

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Luke Del Rio is once again the starting quarterback for No. 21 Florida.

    Luke Del Rio provided a needed spark when he replaced starter Feleipe Franks and rallied Florida past Kentucky.
  3. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-name prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  4. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal

    College

    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  5. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world, Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]