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)

Looking for a spark, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher juggles lines

SUNRISE — Coach Guy Boucher mixed up his lines Saturday night against the Panthers, saying it was out of necessity.

"I've got to create some kind of second line, some kind of spark somewhere," he said.

That's why C Vinny Lecavalier started the game on a line with Nate Thompson and Adam Hall, and Marty St. Louis joined C Blair Jones and Teddy Purcell.

Boucher has been pleased with how Lecavalier, St. Louis and Steven Stamkos have created scoring chances recently; the trio is responsible for seven of the team's past 11 goals. But in a stretch in which the Lightning has played well defensively, lack of secondary scoring has hurt it as it has lost six of seven. LW Simon Gagne, a two-time 40 goal scorer, scored Saturday for just his second goal in 18 games.

"Our big guns aren't going to score every (game)," said Thompson. "We've got to take it upon ourselves to keep generating chances and finishing opportunities when we have them."

Part of it is a depth problem. The Lightning is playing without two of its top six forwards, injured Ryan Malone and Steve Downie. But secondary scoring earlier this season was a big reason the Lightning put itself at the top of the Southeast Division, with the likes of Sean Bergenheim, Thompson and Dominic Moore racking up goals.

"I don't have a second line," Boucher said. "Gagne is not putting it in, and Purcell is sometimes in, sometimes out. If we would have had secondary scoring the last two weeks, we might be first in the conference right now."

HEADS-UP: At the general managers meetings Monday through Wednesday in Boca Raton, one of the big topics will be how to combat hits to the head and concussions.

Lecavalier said Rule 48, which makes illegal a lateral or blind-side hit that targets the head, has been a good start. He said there are fewer hits from behind — "Between 10 years ago and now, it's like night and day." — and though players have some responsibility to be "doing the right things," more still needs to be done to get rid of head shots.

"I think the main thing is, if there are suspensions for that, it's got to be severe," Lecavalier said. "It's got to make guys, the next time they go on the ice after a suspension, think twice with what they do."

LESSON LEARNED: Boucher has said that in the past, Jones' game has deteriorated quickly after initial strong play. But Jones, in his third callup, said he worked on things in AHL Norfolk and has a "better grasp on what we're trying to do here."

"I've kind of gotten used to knowing I'm not going to be playing heavy minutes like I'm used to in the American league," Jones said. "And it's going to take a little bit of different ways to stay in the game, whether it's talking on the bench or getting a real good warmup before the game. I just have to do some different things to stay in it."

MISCELLANY: C Mattias Ritola returned to the lineup, with D Matt Smaby scratched.

Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at

Looking for a spark, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher juggles lines 03/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, March 12, 2011 11:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh


    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  2. 247Sports: Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere top OT in nation


    Berkeley Prep offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere already is widely considered the best player in Tampa Bay.

    Berkeley Prep rising senior defensive end Nicholas Petit-Frere (78) performs a pad drill during spring football practice at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, May 12, 2017.
  3. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …

  4. AP Top 25: Alabama first, FSU, UF, Miami and USF all in top 20


    As expected, Alabama will start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

  5. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay


    Armwood High School quarterback Devin Black (7) hands the ball off to running back Larry Anderson (13) during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.