When Teddy Purcell unleashed a laser wrist shot that beat Capitals G Phillip Grubauer in a shootout Tuesday at the Verizon Center, it was fair to wonder where that shot has been.
The Lightning wing has one of the best wrist shots on the team, yet has just three goals in his past 24 games.
"It's always frustrating when you go into these little slumps," Purcell said. "You can't wait for your bounces; you have to go out and create them. Personally, that's something I put a lot of pride in myself, to go out and do that and be that go-to guy."
Purcell, 28, in the first year of a three-year, $13.5 million deal, has seven goals and 17 points in 30 games but had four goals and eight points in his first six games before cooling.
To try to get him going, coach Jon Cooper on Tuesday put Purcell on a line with C Valtteri Filppula and Alex Killorn. It is hoped Killorn's nose for the puck and Filppula's passing ability will create chances for Purcell to shoot. "When (Purcell) doesn't have the puck, sometimes that's when he's not involved, and he can be ineffective," Cooper said. "But when he has the puck, really good things happen on the ice."
Purcell was active in the 6-5 shootout loss to the Capitals with an assist, three shots and four other shots that were either blocked or missed the net. He also had three takeaways, which had to please the coach.
"He can't always depend on guys to get the puck for him," Cooper said. "He's going to have to get it himself sometimes. When he's sitting back, that's when he has a tough time. But when you see him skating and being aggressive, when he is demanding the puck, I don't know if there are many guys better that can do something with it."
That was evident during the 2011-12 season, when Purcell had career highs of 24 goals, 41 assists and 65 points, a form the team hopes he regains.
DROUIN UPDATE: Scott Salmond, Team Canada's director of hockey operations and national teams, said he expects Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin (concussion) to be ready for the world junior tournament that starts Dec. 26 in Sweden. "I expect he'll be prepared and ready to go, for sure," Salmond told the newspaper website metronews.ca. "But that's a pretty broad statement without having him evaluated."
INJURY PRONE: The Lightning's injury list is down to seven. But given the state of the league, the spate of injuries does not surprise Cooper. "The guys have gotten bigger, stronger, faster, and the rinks stayed the same size," he said. "And the guys, there's such a competition level with teams and players that, as hard as they play, injuries are bound to happen. You can't put your body through 82 games and hope the whole team is going to get out of it."
TOY DRIVE: The Marines will be at Thunder Alley at the Tampa Bay Times Forum before tonight's game to collect new and unwrapped toys. Fans donating will receive a voucher for a ticket to an upcoming game. There is a limit of four vouchers per person.