Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning seeks more shots

SUNRISE — At various times Tuesday, coach Guy Boucher was both frustrated and furious behind the Lightning bench.

It wasn't just that the team couldn't generate shots on goal against the league-worst Panthers — 13 were two off the franchise low — it was that players were passing up shots to look for even better plays.

"I've got 12 in my mind right now," Boucher said. "I'm on the bench, yelling, 'Shoot the puck!' "

Thanks to goaltender Anders Lindback, Tampa Bay beat the Panthers 3-2 at the BB&T Center despite being outshot 39-13. But the happy ending could not mask — and actually more brightly highlighted — a problem the Lightning has battled all season: It simply does not take enough shots.

A team with Steven Stamkos, Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Teddy Purcell and rookie of the year hopeful Cory Conacher was 28th in the 30-team league entering Wednesday, averaging 26.7 per game.

In 2010-11, when Tampa Bay went to the Eastern Conference final, it tied for seventh with an average of 31.8. Doesn't sound like much of a difference. But over an 82-game schedule, that's 419 more shots (2,608 to 2,189) and 419 more opportunities to score.

Stamkos' 91 shots entered Wed­nesday tied for 11th in the league, but you had to go to 72nd place to find the next Lightning player, Lecavalier with 62. Purcell, with perhaps the team's best wrist shot, was tied for 194th with 43.

Then there is this: Tampa Bay has outshot opponents in just nine of 26 games, going 5-4-0.

There were plenty of reasons for Tuesday's drought. The Panthers kept their defensemen hard on the side boards, which helped keep the puck in the Lightning zone. Tampa Bay also was down to 10 forwards by late in the first period because of Tom Pyatt's upper-body injury, so fatigue might have played a part.

Unsaid was Florida also worked harder than the Lightning to control the puck. Then there was what Boucher called "the disease of skill guys."

"Because they're skilled — and we got a lot of skill guys — they're overdoing it with the skill and grinding it less," he said.

"They're stuck on the nice plays they make and passing plays they make, and they're looking for them. But the great majority of times, it's just not there. And we just passed up an opportunity to put a puck on net that could go in or could give us a rebound."

Stamkos said it is not so simple. The team's 5-13-1 swoon, including losses in eight of its past 11 games, has toyed with the players' confidence.

"There were a few times where … confidence with the puck, confidence in making hard plays … you don't want to be that guy that screws up," he said.

The result: "We gave them the puck," he said of Tuesday's game, "chipping it out of our zone when maybe there's a pass. Hopefully, a win gets some confidence."

Boucher joked he would whip his players to get the message across before tonight's game with the Islanders at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

His actual plan is to show them video of shooting opportunities they ignored.

"You just need to put (the puck) on the goalie," Boucher said. "It's not a dangerous shot, but it creates chaos in the (offensive) zone. That's what they need to do."

PYATT UPDATE: There was no word Wednesday on Pyatt's injury other than he was day-to-day.

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

TAMPA — A two-goal lead was suddenly only one, and the Washington Capitals, having pulled their goalie, had a furious 96-second siege.Andrei Vasilevskiy made the last three of his 28 saves to preserve the Lightning's 3-2 victory Saturday in Gam...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

TAMPA — Dan Girardi knew where the puck was heading. It was heading to Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer on net, so Girardi did the only thing he could do. He blocked it.With his rump."It hit me right in the cheek," said Girardi, the Lightning defe...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Faster than Justify down the stretch at the Preakness, quicker than Harry and Meghan walked down the aisle at Windsor Castle, the Lightning jumped on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. No runaway gallop. No funny hats. Just ho...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

TAMPA — They're called grinders. Pluggers. Checkers.They're lunch-pail guys. Like 9-to-5ers. They get up every day and go to work. They punch in and punch out for no glory or credit. But the business would fall apart without them.They're the fo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Quick strike, but not the quickest ever

Lightning-Capitals: Quick strike, but not the quickest ever

TAMPA — Cedric Paquette needed only 19 seconds to put the Lightning on the scoreboard Saturday night, coming up with the second-fastest playoff goal in franchise history.The only goal faster? Tampa Bay's Adam Hall needed only 13 seconds to scor...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Tampa Bay’s 3-2 win

Lightning-Capitals: Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Tampa Bay’s 3-2 win

It's one thing to get a quick goal from one of your big guns, but when the goal scorer is a grinder like Cedric Paquette, who was only on the ice at the start to counter the Capitals' top line, that just sends a jolt through the bench.The Caps' first...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Year away from the NHL playoffs a boon for Lightning coach Jon Cooper

Year away from the NHL playoffs a boon for Lightning coach Jon Cooper

TAMPA — This is the third time in four seasons that the Lightning has reached the Eastern Conference final. The one year it didn't was last year.And last year could turn out to be the best thing that has happened to the Lightning and its coach,...
Published: 05/19/18
Will the home team ever win in this Eastern Conference final?

Will the home team ever win in this Eastern Conference final?

TAMPA — It was said by a longtime hockey writer in this town after the Lightning went down 0-2 in this Eastern Conference final series to the Capitals that things did not look bleak for the local team. Why? Because you should never trust the Ca...
Published: 05/19/18
Live blog: Lightning looks to take series lead in Game 5

Live blog: Lightning looks to take series lead in Game 5

Follow our live coverage of the Eastern Conference final between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals.We'll have updates, analysis, photos, video and more on and off the ice from Times reporters, editors, sports columnists and photo journa...
Published: 05/19/18
Capitals’ ghosts of collapses past have suddenly sprung to life

Capitals’ ghosts of collapses past have suddenly sprung to life

TAMPA – Somewhere between the time Alex Ovechkin smashed his stick against the crossbar of the Capitals' net and his postgame, post-shower meeting with reporters, he tried to channel the joy with which he started the Eastern Conference final.Ev...
Published: 05/19/18