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's leaders needed more than ever

Lightning forwards Marty St. Louis, left, and Vinny Lecavalier lead the team in scoring but are in a goalless slump as the team has lost six of seven.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Lightning forwards Marty St. Louis, left, and Vinny Lecavalier lead the team in scoring but are in a goalless slump as the team has lost six of seven.

TAMPA — Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier knows he has to set a standard for his teammates.

From the first shift, every game until the end of the season, he said he must "lead by example.''

Same for right wing Marty St. Louis.

"I have to play hard every night,'' he said, "and play the right way.''

If not, things could get ugly.

Not that they aren't, already. Tampa Bay, which is going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002, has lost six of seven games. And the organization's focus is as much on next season as it is the final 17 games of this year.

But don't kid yourself, it could get worse. There will be plenty of games against motivated, playoff-hungry opponents, which is why on Monday coach John Tortorella called on his core players.

"That is a major part of their leadership role right now,'' he said. "It's incumbent on the leadership, the core, to see this through. … It makes me sick to my stomach we're not talking about preparing for the playoffs. But we're not. You just don't say, 'Let's ride it out.' ''

Defensemen Dan Boyle and Paul Ranger are part of the core, too. But it is Lecavalier and St. Louis, who so many times have carried the team, and with forwards Brad Richards and Vinny Prospal traded at the deadline, that face a moment when they must do it again.

The linemates certainly must do more than they have lately.

Lecavalier entered Monday third in the league with 80 points on 32 goals and 48 assists but has four goals in his past 23 games and none in his past nine — his longest drought since a 10-game streak in February-March 2002.

St. Louis was tied for 12th with 71 points but has zero in six games and four goals in 22.

"We know we have to contribute,'' St. Louis said. "We play a lot of minutes. We need something to show for it. I don't think it's for lack of trying. Sometimes you get a bounce and the floodgates open, but right now, it's tough.''

Lecavalier said he and St. Louis have watched more video, concentrated on moving their feet on the ice and talked more during games.

"Oh, yeah, we're talking a lot more now,'' Lecavalier said. "We're more on the same page of skating and attacking. It hasn't paid off yet, but it will.''

Perhaps tonight against the Penguins at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Lecavalier has hit two posts the past two games. St. Louis had a scoring chance Saturday against the Hurricanes but broke his stick as he shot.

"That's the way it's going,'' St. Louis said, "but you have to keep fighting and working hard away from the puck. Do it the right way.''

"It's an awful position to be in,'' Tortorella said. "In some off hours after you're done and the team is gone and you think of where you're at, it wears you down. It wears on you, mentally. It wears on me mentally. I understand that part of it.

"But when it comes to the couple of hours you come in to work for practice and your preparation on game day, it should not affect that at all. … It is the absolute responsibility of the players to be as good as they can be.''

GRATTON HAS SURGERY: The team announced center Chris Gratton had successful surgery over the weekend to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He also had an osteoplasty to smooth his hip joint.

Gratton is expected to be on crutches two weeks and could be skating in six to seven. The team said Gratton, a potential unrestricted free agent, should be able to train during the summer "without restriction.''

Filip Kuba (right knee) practiced, but Tortorella said the defenseman will miss his third straight game.

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

Lightning's leaders needed more than ever 03/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 3, 2008 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 5

    Footballpreps

    Team of the Week | Armwood

    Armwood High School defensive end and outside linebacker Fitzroy Gardner during the first half of the Armwood at Jefferson football game in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, September 22, 2017.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  5. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State

    College

    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.